Childcare centers and burnout: How to prevent burnout in your childcare center

How to spot the symptoms and a few tips that may help.

Burnout is a real problem in any type of childcare business setting. Is it possible to prevent childcare burnout? I believe to an extent it is when you know the early signs, you have a strategy to prevent burnout in your staff and you lead from the heart.

Let’s face it….

Poor hourly wages increase the stress that comes when dealing with young children, long hours, unappreciative directors, and let’s add the educator’s personal life into the mix and we have a recipe for disaster.

Here’s a scary but not surprising statistic :

1 out of 3 teachers suffers from burnout during their career. 40% of teachers have considered changing careers since the pandemic.

In a study of childcare providers in Maryland:

  • 37% of providers rated themselves as experiencing very high or somewhat high levels of stress in the past month

  • 54.5% had effects on health behaviors

  • 51.7% enjoy their job less than the typical population

  • 35% report feeling bad physically

  • 56% of childcare providers say they have surpassed a 40-hour workweek more often than they'd like to admit.

Here are a few early signs and symptoms of burnout

  1. Closed off to feedback-very rigid: refusing to accept help, acts like everything is fine, signs of self-neglect, do not participate in social gatherings with other team members

  2. Irritable: Gets angry easily, more complaints about his/her work

  3. Physically unwell, frequent sick days: complaints of lack of sleep, looks disheveled when coming into work, eats poorly or not at all, smokes more, eats less, drinks more, brain fog, problems breathing, body aches, frequently getting sick

  4. Their work suffers, low performance: does not want to come into work in the morning, performance is poor, not the same employee you hired, very negative

How to avoid burnout in your childcare business

  1. Build A Culture That Raises People Up: How much you pour into nurturing your team culture is going to have a direct impact on the quality of your program. A team that genuinely enjoys being around each other and their work has lower burnout rates. In fact, I find that once team culture is strong, staff turnover decreases, the program becomes so much better, and your customers feel a strong sense of community which means raving reviews and referrals. As a leader, it's your role to set the foundation of strong team culture and to lead by example. Focusing on your staff's strengths, showing them they are valued and appreciated is also key.

  2. Clear expectations: Developing a team handbook with an on-boarding process and systems will allow your staff to understand their role in your team. Once an employee is aware of their responsibilities and duties, it's easier to feel supported and guided VS an employee that tries to do it all, takes on too many roles, or even worse is left to fend for themselves.

  3. Invest in your team: "If you're not growing, you're dying! " Tony Robbins. Great leaders invest in their teams. Whether it's yearly retreats or monthly workshops, your staff needs to be growing in their profession and skills.

  4. Pay them better: As of Apr 16, 2021, the average annual pay for an Early Childhood Educator in the United States is $28,967 a year. An employee that is compensated well and feels valued ha happier!

When you feel someone is experiencing burnout, here are a few things you can do to help:

  1. Request a meeting to talk

  2. Voice your concerns and your observations

  3. Be authentic and empathetic

As an employer, there are a few things you may suggest to an employee on the verge of burnout.

  1. Offer vacation time

  2. Review weekly schedule and make changes accordingly

  3. Think of offering a 4 day work week

  4. Offer perks such as gym memberships

  5. Set clear roles and responsibilities in your employee handbook

  6. Encourage staff to go for walks during lunch breaks

  7. Offer workshops or online courses on self-help skills…

As a childcare business owner, being appreciative of all your staff, feeling empathy towards their struggles, and showing gratitude are all things you can do to reduce the burnout rate in your center.

I’m curious, have you ever been on a burnout yourself? What did you do to get yourself out of it and back on track?

Be well!


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