Investigate the factors influencing low employee retention in the childcare sector

Published: 2023/07/06 Number of words: 1895


A rapidly changing and competitive working environment increase the demand for skilled and qualified workers. In contrast, the rate of employee retention is also decreasing. Moreover, the cost to recruit, hire, and train new talent is more than an hourly worker’s salary (McKeown, 2010). Generally, childcare services are viewed as a place for children of working parents. Both private and government-funded organisations provide childcare services. The childcare providers rely on parent’s fees and government funds to run their operations. The services in the childcare include day-care, breakfast and lunch club, after school session, holiday club. As time passes, the concept of childcare services has changed since childcare during the early years of a child’s life is the learning foundation. The increasing number of working parents generates demand in childcare sectors which also boost the competition. Thus, these expansions seek qualified and trained staff to maintain the quality of services that helps childcare centres to take a competitive advantage in the industry. To attain positive life outcomes for children, broader economic and social productivity, it is crucial to have a skilled, engaged and professional early childhood workforce. As in childcare services, parent’s satisfaction and child development are important factors for organisations to create a long-term brand image.

Hence, there is a tremendous need for professional and caring childcare centres with a qualified and skilled workforce. Knowledge and teaching skills are not enough for early childhood care workers. They must be able to engage and interact with children, as well as design fun and effective educational activities. Although, it is challenging for childcare administrators to retain experienced employees who can provide quality care. As a result, childcare centres need to develop effective recruitment and retention strategies to attract trained individuals, retain employees, and reduce turnover. A broad range of economic and social developments, including globalisation, technological advancements, and market competition, place significant pressure on organisations to perform better, and upskilling and development opportunities for employees are vital. Overall, childcare centre management must understand the importance of job satisfaction and commitment towards employees by creating a better working environment. Children’s programmes are not just about the child but also about fostering employee growth. This paper aims to discuss reasons that motivate employees to leave the organisation or the childcare industry. Further, it will explain some primary strategies to increase the retention level, followed by a conclusion.

Factors affecting employee retention in the childcare industry: 

The expansion of the childcare sector raises the requirement for a skilled, qualified and dedicated workforce. Likewise, for a quality lifestyle, both parents are likely to work, and they are dependent on reliable and trusted childcare services providers for their children. Recently, the childcare industry has seen a massive increase in employee turnover, limited qualified applicants, and skills shrinkage. There is a range of reasons that influence the decision of employees whether to stay or leave the organisation. A high-demanding working environment, low pay, and poor career progression opportunities are some of the key reasons employees leave work or leave the childcare industry. Working in the childcare industry demands constant mental, physical and emotional involvement, which can be exhausting due to the extreme workload. Hence, the low numbers of staff and increased demand have created a stressful working environment. As a result, many workers feel immense pressure and tend to leave the job. Additionally, the low pay rate is another major factor in low employee retention. Comparatively to other industries, childcare provides substantially lower wages. Hence, taking childcare work as a career option is not a viable career path for most because wages are lower, and learning and development opportunities are limited. For example, many individuals have indicated they can earn more money doing night fill work for retail firms than in the work they are qualified to undertake (Productivity Commission, 2014; Webb, 2014).

In addition, childcare industry employees have limited career progression opportunities that lead them to leave the industry in search of a job with better growth potential and a higher salary. The majority of employees tend to move to the industry including hospitality, school, Senior care home and hair and beauty. Subsequently, poor relationships with co-workers cause conflict at the workplace, resulting in decreased productivity, lack of motivation, and lack of empowerment lead to turnover in staff. Inadequate support between staff and professional immaturity is the root of lower job satisfaction in the childcare workforce. Also, the childcare worker often gets less respect in comparison to academic teachers. Such factors influence an employee’s decision to leave the job. Moreover, the lack of staff and the growing number of children enrolled increases stress and emotional labour, which leads to exhaustion and job dissatisfaction that support the intention to leave the job. Lastly, personal factors such as financial instability and family commitment may impact an employee’s decision to leave the job. The childcare industry considers employees to be overworked and underpaid, which makes it difficult for them to spend time with their families and meet their financial responsibilities, thus making them more likely to migrate to other fields for a better career.

Strategies to improve workforce retention:

The retention of childcare workers is a persistent issue that needs to be addressed. Having and retaining skilled employees plays a vital role in this process because employees’ knowledge and skills have become the key for companies to be economically competitive (Hiltrop, 1999). Thus, childcare centre executives who have a thorough understanding of the retention strategies in place will be able to identify the successful and effective process to retain the employees, reduce the costs associated with employee turnover, and maintain high performing employees (Vasquez, 2014). First, improving recruitment processes and policies will help to find suitable candidates. Rather than focusing solely on qualified candidates, childcare workers should consider candidates who are also passionate about working in this field. As a result, childcare providers can build a team of highly motivated workers. The second aspect is that employers providing reasonable wages, a positive work environment, and managing workload are perceived to be a contribution to job satisfaction and commitment to the work. Thus, the influence of these factors on employee retention will be significant.

Thirdly, considering motivational factors such as recognition, achievement, training and development, growth opportunities, performance-based rewards, and recreation benefits will increase employees’ self-confidence, appreciation, and self-esteem. Similarly, other significantly influencing variables including, interesting work, freedom for innovative thinking, and job security are vital factors in retention strategies (Samuel, 2013). Hence, improvising management policies by including actions that encourage workers will strengthen the relationship between the firm and employees. Fourthly, creating an effective communication platform will help in enhancing interpersonal relationships between management and employees. As good relations among employees play a key role in building a work environment where employees feel comfortable approaching their senior management. So childcare administrators should emphasise more on having regular meetings and positive feedback sessions. Managers or owners of childcare centres should encourage good internal communication with their employees by providing regular meetings, learning what their employees need and want in their work, and then trying to fulfil their employees’ needs and desires (Sulaiman et al., 2013). Hence, the employees feel satisfied when communicating with the employer is easy, which creates a friendly, stress-free work environment.


To conclude, achieving employee retention entails effective leadership with a long-term vision (Ratna & Chawla, 2012). Thus, to retain skilled employees, it is important to promote positive strategic change in the management of childcare providers. Thus, employee retention should be the top priority for childcare management, and organisation leaders should create effective plans to retain the best-trained workers. As poor quality of education and learning in early childhood may impact children’s development. However, successful retention strategies may help childcare providers to reduce turnover costs and ensure employee stability in the organisation. Furthermore, when an employee stays at a childcare firm for a long time, it contributes to the development of a trusting relationship with the kids and their parents, which eventually leads to the firm performing better. In fact, there is a direct connection between job satisfaction and retention. Hence, to retain skilled childcare providers, centre management should understand the cause behind job dissatisfaction and address it accordingly to increase retention. Additionally, diversifying the workforce through improved recruitment criteria, such as eliminating the gender imbalance and age gap. This will open opportunities for both men and women as well as for freshers and experienced candidates in the childcare labour market, which will lead to the provision of suitable employees. Overall, most childcare workers are highly passionate about their careers in the childcare industry. Thus, ensuring that management may provide constant motivation is likely to increase job satisfaction and boost positive career outcomes, and it will eventually improve retention levels.


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