Retaining and nurturing good staff is an essential part of Sesame Lane Care and Kindergarten’s culture, earning it Employer of Choice status recently.
Head of Sesame Lane Kerri Smith says she and her team have been working hard to achieve the sought-after rating for the past three years.
“We had a bit of an outline of a plan of what we wanted to do over those three years to get us there. I didn’t think we’d get it first time around and we did, so I was pretty happy with that,” Kerri says.
“There’s a program you have to adhere to. You send in your application and they gauge it using a criteria that you have to meet.
“For me, the most important thing is listening to the people, listening to our team, listening to what they want. This business is not driven by one person, it’s a people business. For me, that is really important – listening to the people who are in our early learning centres with the children every single day.”
Kerri says Sesame Lane uses staff surveys and other tools to encourage her team to provide feedback.
“We’ve put in place scholarship programs. Anyone who is interested in the next step in their career to help that career progression, we have a scholarship program where we will pay for them to do a Bachelor of Early Childhood. It sets people up for a fabulous career,” she says.
Sesame Lane also offers online professional development as well as face-to-face learning opportunities, mentoring, wellness programs and the chance to work with specialist consultants.
They also have a trainee cluster program which gives these staff members the chance to come together once a month to talk through what they’re learning and share ideas.
In a time when most businesses are reporting staff shortages, Kerri says it is important to retain good employees and nurture them, so they feel there is room to grow.
“That is really important. We’re working on a program at the moment, it’s called Rising Stars, and will be another level for people who want that growth step in the industry,” Kerri says.
“We just recently had a Night of the Stars for Educators’ Day. We brought all staff, close to 400, to a beautiful dinner with entertainment and awards. Giving back is important.
“We’ve tried to cover off all the different angles that we possibly can throughout the stepping stones as well as things like above-award wages. We have a bonus system for our management, we pay for Blue Cards, First Aid qualifications and anything required to meet industry expectations.”
Being an employer of choice will make Sesame Lane even more attractive to prospective staff, with the search now including New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Kerri is also keen to explore opportunities to bring specialist knowledge to Sesame Lane centres to free up educators to do what they do best.
“I’m looking at whether we have nurses as part of our team in the centres. There are so many things that happen with children more and more now such as anaphylaxis and those types of things,” she explains.
“I’m trying to think outside the box and work out what roles I can bring into our services to help support the team but allow the people who are here to educate the children with those auxiliary roles to support them to do what they do best.”
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