How to Reward your Early Years Practitioners
As a manager, the sector you work in affects how difficult or easy it is to motivate and reward your team. For example, if you work in a large corporate office it may be easy to give bonuses or office perks when the team has worked well. In early years, however, it’s not possible to all pop out for a celebratory Friday liquid lunch. So what are some practical ways you can help motivate your practitioners and reward them for their good work?
Make sure you understand your practitioners
Knowing your team well is the first step to rewarding them effectively. Chocolates and alcohol may be the ideal gift for one person who’s gone the extra mile that week but, for another, the best reward may be simply a discussion on how they can take on extra responsibilities around the setting. Some may love a staff night out, but others may not feel so comfortable in that situation. Knowing your team as individuals will help you know what each one prefers and ensure nobody is left out when the team are rewarded.
Rewards don’t just come in the form of a Thank You card or staff perks – having their ideas listened to and actioned is a great reward for any practitioner. Not only does it encourage more open communication but it shows your staff that you’re engaged, care about them and value their opinions and ideas.
Praise good work
It’s easy to fall into the habit of focusing on problems that need to be sorted out, praising the extra mile but forgetting to notice consistently good work. Make an effort to recognise your practitioners’ dedication and commitment. It may just be a quick “thank you for today – great work, as always” but just the knowledge that they’re appreciated can boost your practitioners’ morale tenfold.
Involving your practitioners in discussions or decisions about the running of your early years setting is another way to reward their hard work – by showing they have a say and that you value their opinion. Instead of holding meetings with the attitude of “this is happening and I’m making sure everyone knows”, try an approach that looks more like “This is what we’re considering – what do you think?”.
Through open communication and getting to know your team better, you can learn what their personal and professional goals are and help them achieve them. If some of your practitioners are looking to advance or gain some extra responsibilities, look at how to implement training or a shift of duties. In an ideal world, you’d have a great team stay at your setting for life. But it’s much more rewarding for a practitioner to have a manager that believes in their skills and wants to help them learn and improve – even if that means they may outgrow their current role and setting and move on to pastures new.
Incentivise your team
Obviously, unlike a corporate workplace, EY settings don’t have KPIs or easy-to-track markers for when teams have performed well. But this doesn’t mean you can’t have staff incentives or rewards. These don’t have to be huge – a staff meal one in a while, a gift card or a box of chocolates/bottle of wine for an individual who’s really gone the extra mile that week are all great bonuses that will show your staff how much you appreciate their hard work.
To sum up, you don’t have to do anything dramatic, but simply communicating with your team, showing you want the best for them and giving small gestures when they’ve worked hard are all ways you can motivate and reward your early years practitioners and ensure you’re providing a work environment where everyone thrives.