How to Identify and Assist Burned-Out Daycare Employees

Daycare Employee burn-out should be a serious concern of all directors

Daycare Employee burn-out should be a serious concern of all directors. It can be difficult for teachers to keep their energy and motivation high day in and day out. A burned-out employee can develop a short fuse causing stress within the classroom. They can also make work difficult for the entire staff. Spotting these early warning signs can help prevent problems down the road.

1. Inconsistency in clock-in times

SIGNAL: There are variations of this behavior. The employee may arrive late and give several excuses for doing so while another may arrive promptly but stall for a while before entering their classroom. Either conduct indicates the staff member has lost excitement and energy that kids would expect from them.

SOLUTION: A director can spend some time at the beginning of the shift assisting with the daily routine tasks for a few days. Helping complete these tasks would relieve the feeling of being in a rut. Ask the teacher for a list of changes they would like to implement in their classroom. Allowing them to perform their ideas will empower them and take ownership of their group. 

2. Report filing

SIGNAL: Childcare directors should be able to pick up and follow up on incomplete, missing, delayed, or inconsistent report filings. Caregivers who are actively involved in the kids' performance will find time to record that data. The occasional late reporting can happen, but routine procrastination should be a concern.

SOLUTION: Filing daily reports are a necessity in the child care business. Start a reward system that enters all teachers into a weekly raffle if they turn in their child reports on time each day of the week.

3. Staff absence

SIGNAL: Whether scheduled or unscheduled, can be a tip-off also. Kids can be a handful, but if you have enough employees, it is advisable to alternate reporting days. If you don't provide for off days, take note of a pattern if an employee is routinely absent on certain days. A staff member might also call in absent the day before or the day after a holiday to create a more extended time away from the daycare. And another employee may schedule a personal appointment on the day of the class field trip or parent's day. Directors can chart these absences to see if they show any pattern and inquire about the reason about it.

SOLUTION: Keeping the child to teacher ratio can be difficult with frequent call offs. Clear employee policies for call offs can curb this behavior. Post these policies in the breakroom to ensure everyone is aware of them.  If you feel that the absentees are caused by burn-out offer a change in their schedules such as four ten hour days or trading with another teacher for a week.

4. Interest level

SIGNAL: Often employees suffering from burn-out will show a distinct disinterest in what the kids are doing. As a director, you can listen to casual conversations and observe the teacher's real involvement or lack of participation in ongoing activities.

SOLUTION: Allow the childcare worker to design their own activities. Find something that interests them outside of work such as camping, sports, or travel and work with them to develop child learning based on these hobbies.

5. Avoiding their classrooms

SIGNAL: Stressed daycare employees will always find a reason to stay away from kids. They could frequent the restroom; sit far away or prolong a meeting with idle chit chat when kids need their attention.

SOLUTION: Rotating staff to different age children even if only for a day or an afternoon can give the teacher a different perspective. It can even help children learn to deal with change. 

6. Misdirected dissatisfaction

SIGNAL: Disgruntled employees will express anger with their co-workers, parents, or the kids because of their dissatisfaction with their work situation.

SOLUTION: A director must have an open door policy. Employees need to feel comfortable unloading frustrations. Giving your employee someone to talk to will prevent the attitude from spreading across the center. 

7. Facility events

SIGNAL: Every facility has extracurricular activities that everyone can participate in. If a staff member repeatedly declines to take part in these activities or has no good comments to make about these events, it probably means there is dissatisfaction seething underneath.

SOLUTION: Create an event suggestion box so employees can offer ideas. Doing something new will always help raise morale. 

8. Personal life issues

SIGNAL: Stressed educators with problems back home often bring that stress to work. A director can identify such an employee bearing the burden of personal problems and see ways of assisting them since their wellbeing reflects positively on the business and vice-versa.

SOLUTION: Employees have a life outside of work. Your job as a director is not to solve the problems but acknowledging that you care can go a long way. A simple note or card offering sympathy or encouragement can help the employee feel safe when coming to work.



Daycare Employee burn-out should be a serious concern of all directors

About The Author

Alexis Sferra, Author / Editor

Alexis Sferra has been working with children for over 14 years in many different ways. She started when she was younger, babysitting for children around the neighborhood. As she got older, she continued her work into overnight nannying for a few years in high school. At that point, she had to learn a few new skills. Making sure the kids were put to bed on time, had dinner, and cleaned up once the children were in bed.

After school, she went straight into being a private nanny for many years. After college, she started a job at a local in-home daycare where she could help care for many more children, but still, on a personal level, you get with nannying. After that, Alexis worked as an assistant director at a 24-hour daycare center. There Alexis had to combine all her skills of overnight sitting, parent communication, personalization, and caring for the children. While also learning new ones such as keeping the records up to date, going through inspections, managing a team of staff members, ensuring all rules and regulations were being followed, as well as payroll duties.

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