Here are two big reasons why business owners need to make their employees feel valued and appreciated: performance and retention. Employees who feel valued in their roles will be more passionate and motivated to do a good job. Further, employees who feel appreciated will want to stay with the business longer.

Employee appreciation and retention strategies aren’t typically near the top of the list when business owners lay out their goals and plans for the year. Why? Because business owners are laser-focused on current and potential customers.

In the childcare industry, neglecting your staff can kill your business. Any early learning center owner will tell you that it’s hard to find good teachers and staff, and sometimes even harder to keep them. Here are three ways to show your staff some love so your center will thrive.


A little appreciation goes a long way. Saying “thank you” or “good job” to an employee is a very simple act that can have a huge impact. Here are some examples:

  • Recognize exceptional employees during staff meetings
  • Write a personal note to a staff member
  • Bring in food or snacks
  • Invest in your team’s health and wellness
  • Treat the team to happy hour, a movie, or a ballgame

Remember that it can be counter-productive to repeatedly praise the same staff at the expense of others. You don’t want to breed resentment. Use your judgment to ensure you aren’t showering one or two employees with all the praise. It’s OK to offer an occasional special reward to exceptional staff, but also think of ways to thank your entire team so the good vibes can be felt by everyone.

Personal & Professional Development

Investing in “things” like food and activities is a great way to show appreciation; investing in people takes it to another level. When you invest in a person’s professional development, you are showing that you not only value their current contributions but that you also see more potential in them. Make it a point to promote from within and grow your existing staff into leaders.

By cultivating leaders inside your own team, you are building a rich environment for your business to grow. Involve your staff in the process of setting goals and making decisions. Even though the final decisions are yours to make, including your team in the process will give them a sense of ownership and contribution.

Teams that are engaged and empowered by open communication will be more productive. Morale will be higher, too! Creating a work environment that is positive, engaging and rewarding will significantly increase your employee retention.

Be A Servant Leader

Sometimes, the best thing a business owner can do is jump into the fray and work shoulder-to-shoulder with employees. This is leading by example at its finest. Don’t underestimate the profound impact it can have on your team when they see you are not above doing what needs to be done.

Lend a hand to finish an event setup or a center project. Place yourself in a classroom when you’re short-staffed or one of your employees just really needs a break. Allow yourself to be open and accessible to your employees so they aren’t afraid to ask for help.

Fostering an environment of cooperation and shared responsibility will result in a tightly knit group of teammates pulling in the same direction. Look for opportunities to demonstrate empathy and altruism. Your employees will take notice, and your center will benefit. Spread the love!