ChildCare Conversations with Kate and Carrie

Episode 169: Staffing - It's not kids these days

September 26, 2023 Carrie Casey and Kate Woodward Young
ChildCare Conversations with Kate and Carrie
Episode 169: Staffing - It's not kids these days
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of the "Child Care Conversations" podcast, Kate and Carrie discuss the topic of hiring staff in the childcare industry. They emphasize the importance of job descriptions that highlight the positive aspects of working in childcare, such as playing with children and creating a fun environment. They also address the misconception that younger generations are lazy and don't want to work, pointing out that ageism is at play. Carrie advises businesses to create engaging job postings that showcase their unique culture and the exciting aspects of the job. They also discuss the importance of orientation for new hires and understanding the needs of younger and first-time employees. Kate and Carrie encourage bosses to support and guide their employees towards success in the hourly economy.

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Marie (00:00:01) - Welcome to Child Care conversations with Kate and Carrie.

Kate (00:00:05) - Week two, we are going to talk about hiring those staff. So but today we're going to specifically talk about really hiring younger staff, first time employee staff and even maybe staff who've never been in child care. So I'd like to little, you know, talk a little bit about that, Carrie. And for those of you who didn't listen to us last week, last week, we talked about workplace culture. It has been a very busy few weeks for Carrie and I. We have done conferences and workshops and affiliate meetings, webinars. Anyway, we've been all over the place this month of September and a lot of our workshops are coming back to staff hiring and we're hearing directors. This is the one that really just kind of makes us both go, Oh, every time we hear it. And so we thought we would address it today on today's podcast.

Carrie (00:01:20) So, so we hear the we hear the people just don't want to work these days. And that is like nails on chalkboard for me because I have been hearing this since I entered child care in the 1980s that people nowadays don't want to work. And I'm like, it's been 40 some odd years, people. This is not a nowadays. This is your perception of people who are younger than you. It's a little bit ageism, just a little bit, because you didn't want to work when you were 17, 18, 19. Either. You wanted to go out and have friends with, go out with your friends and have a good time. This is not new information like and whether they're 17 or whether they're 23 or heck, don't care if they're 52, if what they really want to do is have more free time to go out and socialize. Is that really such a bad thing?

Kate - I don't think so now. So let's talk a little bit about kind of how we ended up with that mindset and maybe even some things our directors can do to change that. To me, a lot of this starts like at, at the the, the want ad and the job description, right? Like how would you carry if you were writing, if this is an issue to you? In other words, you've got a program in the last people you've hired people didn't show up on interviews. They showed up for the first three hours of work. What are some things that like make you immediately go when you hear those stories that need to probably change? Maybe it's in the wanted itself, maybe it's in the job description, maybe it's both. But what comes into your mind immediately?

Carrie (00:02:49) - I mean, it goes back to that workplace culture. Are you talking about your workplace culture in your job posting? What makes your job so great? And I use a lot of times when I'm trying to get people to think about this, I'm like, think about ads for being in the Army or being in the Marines. They do a great job of of having job postings. And I'll ask people, what is a better job, your job or working in the Army? And I'm amazed by the number of people who said, oh, the army is better. And I'm like, Really? It is better to spend the first six weeks of your employment getting yelled at by people while running in the heat as hot as it can be, wearing uncomfortable clothing that is better and boots.

Carrie (00:03:36) - That is a better job than working at your child care center. And what is the actual job of being in the army, shooting people and being shot at? And you're telling me that's a better job than working in your infant room? I'm confused because most of the people going into the army expect that they're going to potentially be in the line of fire. Very few people going into child care expect to be shot at like that's not part of the expectation. But people think working in the Army is a better job, and it's because of the job postings. Be all that you can be right? Go to new places and shoot people. You know what? Why?

Kate - Okay. I'm pretty sure the shoot people is not in the actual ad.

Carrie - I don't remember how that ad goes. The one that's all about go to new places and meet people. But when that one was popular, my brain went go to new places and shoot people. So that's how it got downloaded for me. But does the job description talk about your company culture and what makes what they're going to get to do with you really cool? Like they're going to get to play with Play-Doh, blow bubbles go down, slides build with Legos, see children take their first steps, watch children figure out that Lasterday day is not the right word.

Carrie (00:04:55) - Yesterday is the right word like all of that stuff should. Be in the job posting, not the fact that they may have to mop up vomit. Like why are you putting that in your job posting? Why are people putting in their job posting only apply if you are going to have a good work ethic. You just told people that you're a curmudgeon, you're a crab apple and they don't want to come work for you.

Kate - Okay, so where, where, where should they put you might have to mop up vomit. Where should that be?

Carrie - That should be part of the interview and definitely part of the orientation. Mean it can probably wait until orientation. We don't need to talk about it before then. They haven't accepted the job. It's in the job description.

Kate - Absolutely. Absolutely. So love that. I love that mean and I know this from from having worked with you for for a couple of decades. And I know that I love watching and being part of the interview process with people who respond to ads about getting to play with Play-Doh.

Kate (00:06:00) - And there's a whole different level of excitement versus people who come to teach one of the educating, you know, and was hiring, hiring some educators. I took that example. I did not write the original job description. I did not write the original wanted that was posted. And so when I had to rewrite it because the first round of hiring well, was not as successful as I would have liked it to be. One of the things I did was, Do you like to play in a creek? Um, you know, have you ever been creaking? Do you know, do you like to find the bugs under rocks? You know, like and I actually had my supervisor totally rewrite the want ad, and so instead I ended up using it in my job interview because, to me, those were the people I wanted. They were going to be playing with elementary school kids around a creek and getting them excited about the bugs because so needed people who were going to think bugs were cool and really even better if they liked water bugs.

Carrie (00:07:08) - How do you feel about roly-poly? How do you feel about snails?

Kate - You know, if these are things that make you go ew, okay. You're not my. You're not my gal. You're not my guy, right? Like, this is not going to be a long term relationship. So, um, I think that that just is such an important component because I think what happens is a lot of people I'm just going to say it are lazy, we have directors out there who think, Oh, I need to post the job description because they're on Indeed, or they're on somewhere and it's easy for them because they have the job description and they aren't thinking about the job description as being the sales piece. They need the sales piece. They need the marketing piece.

Carrie - Are you saying that directors these days just don't want to work? Is that what you're saying?

Kate - Feeling a little overwhelmed and think that because they're feeling overwhelmed, they think they know what they're supposed to be doing and what they think they're supposed to be doing is having these job descriptions.

Kate (00:08:16) - And a lot of times what happens is they they produce those for a business plan or they buy them. I mean, that's one of the ones that like quit buying those things off, you know, other people and downloading them and not editing them to your program because all you've done is make it sound like a stale job description. There's no personality there.

Carrie - Okay, But does the Army talk about their job description in their job posting?

Kate - No.

Carrie - So why do you have to?

Kate (00:09:00) - Exactly. There's hundreds and hundreds of job descriptions, right? The Army is all about getting you excited about being part of a team and being part of their organization or their business. And so really what you want to do is interview people who want to be excited because they want to be a part of You mean we can all watch television shows and we've all watched some TV or some commercials? It doesn't matter if it's on TikTok social media, whether it's on an actual television. We've all been exposed to a commercial and we've all been exposed to that person who is so excited about whatever it is they're talking about that we want to be a part of that.

Kate (00:09:29) - So it could be Sunday at church, it could be McDonald's, it could be back when we had the Dell guy. It could be the new subway guys. I mean, there's all these pro athletes that all now different subway subs. So, you know, we just want people to get excited about being part of your program and your program sounding so like it's so much fun. Like not everybody's going to get a chance to have a movie done about their job, right? Like, not everybody's going to go want to be an intern at Google because of the interns, right? Like mean not everybody gets to have an Owen Wilson, you know, come advertise what it's like to go to work at their program. Right? Mean we get daddy daycare and you know mean I work with Eddie Murphy I think that would be fun and I'd be happy to be a big carrot or big broccoli right in the moonshine

Carrie - Yeah, mean I think that is the first part of it being talking about your culture, talking about what a cool job it is at your job posting.

Carrie (00:10:33) - And then people don't have the idea that they're going to be Miss Rachel in the classroom. Right. They don't think they're going to sit there and go, ma, ma, ma, ma, ma, ma, ma, and teaching phonics to the babies because babies watch Miss Rachel. And that's what Miss Rachel does. And she just sits there. Well, but when Miss Rachel does that, she's in a room without children. There's no actual interaction with children in Miss Rachel's videos. She used to be an educator working in classrooms with kids. Now she's an educator working in a photo studio or a recording studio. So if their idea of coming to work at your center is that they're going to be a teacher with a big capital T, like a kindergarten teacher or what they remember of their elementary school teachers, then yeah, when they come to their first day and they're like, There's no desk, where's my where's my whiteboard? They're going to be surprised. So somewhere in between the job posting and their first day in the classroom, you have to explain that they're not going to be like a kindergarten or first-grade teacher, and they're sure as heck not going to be like Ms.Rachel in a room without children interrupting you all the time.

Kate (00:11:49) - All right. So absolutely. Okay. So the first thing we need to do is we need to make sure the directors who are listening understand and that you're want ad is not your job description. And your want ad is a sales pitch. It is a marketing piece. Okay. So now you've got people excited. They're going to fill out the application, you get the application. What do you do, Carrie?

Carrie - What do I do usually next? Um, so what I would recommend is that you have an automated system so that as soon as that application comes in, a text message or an email, whichever box they ticked when they submitted the application saying how they wanted to be communicated with. So there should be a tick box that they click to say, I want a text or I want an email. So you need to have one of those that goes out immediately after they fill it out that says, Which of these times would you like to have your interview? And there need to be times that day for them to interview.

Carrie (00:12:52) - Um, I'm a big fan of virtual interviews because it takes less time for me and it takes less time for them. And if the virtual interview goes well, then we can go to an in-person interview. But they don't have to take a half a day off of work if they're at a job that they already have, but that they don't love so that they can come to an interview with you, they can go hang out in their car with the air conditioning on and do a virtual interview in their car. That's fine. That's what I would do. Um, I'll interview everybody who applies if I'm only doing a virtual interview.

Kate - All right. So, so we've, we've got an awesome, engaging, fun marketing want ad we don't even have a job description yet. We have a want ad, we have an online application that has an auto responder to a calendar format. Did you guys know that you can also now do this with Google? You don't even have to have Calendly or tidy cal or a scheduling software.

Kate (00:13:55) - Google now let you do this. Just saying it's free. Okay, so we have done all these autoresponders. You can use a Google form as your application. You can use a Google schedule for your scheduling. You have zoom 45 minutes for free. Okay. We have not invested. You do not have to sit here and go, oh, but Kate. Oh, but Carrie, I don't have the money for that. We're a small program. We don't have a large pro blah, blah, blah, blah. No, sorry. I've eliminated all of that. I've just given you all those resources for free. Okay, so you've done your interview. You get them on to do a 15 minute interview. How do you get them excited, Carrie? How do you get them to want to work? Because remember, everybody says that people nowadays don't want to work.

Carrie - You ask them what is their favorite memory of a teacher that they've ever had? Or you ask them about what is the one thing you remember about you remember doing before you went to school? Like, what is one thing? And so we capture their emotion. Connection to early childhood.

Carrie (00:14:59) - And the reason I use bubbles and Play-Doh and Legos is because a lot of people have an emotional attachment to bubbles Plato or Legos. A lot of people do. And yes, I have Legos and Play-Doh over here, so use those because they're an easy way into people's emotions and I want to get them emotionally attached to this job.

Kate - Okay, great. So as a director, before you sit down, you need to have those questions written out, right? Like you need to actually write them. Write them down. Right. Yay. Okay, So we write them down. We're going to ask everybody the same questions. You may or may not have already sent them the job description. So by now you need a job description, right? Um, but, you know, don't make it so detailed that you're scaring them off. So in other words, if it's other duties as assigned it just leave the other duties as assigned. They don't need to know what that is yet.

Kate (00:16:06) - Whatever their primary responsibility is going to be, which has to include being able to see and hear children and to be able to lift things. Right. All that needs to be in there.

Carrie - So your job description should not be three pages in a 12 point font. It should be a half a page in 14 point font. Okay. So that's the length that we're looking for. We're going to send that on to them. We're going to presume that they rocked the 15 minute interview and they were actually pushing to make the interview last longer because they had more questions. And then you go, great, you have more questions. I'd love to see you in person. And then you schedule the in-person interview and then you're going to use your automation again to send them emails or text messages, whatever. They prefer to remind them 24 hours in advance and an hour in advance of that in-person interview that that's when they're supposed to come in, basically treat them like your doctor's office treats You remind them four times about this appointment that they made 26 hours ago, do the same thing that your doctor's appointment does because it costs you money if they don't show up, just like it costs the doctor's appointment money, the doctor's office. If you don't show up, do it like the doctor's office.

Kate (00:17:23) -  You know, that is such a great analogy. I'm so glad that you shared that, because I do use doctors and dentist offices a lot and a lot of other areas of operating childcare centers. And the last time I checked, we always think of those as professionals, don't we? Yep. And as a director, you're a business manager of, again, depending on the size of your program, potentially a multimillion dollar business, you are a professional, so stop acting like people should just know to show up. I'm pretty sure that we always think of dentists and doctors as being as professionals and don't know about you. But I get like a dozen emails. Like I got an email today. My son has a doctor's appointment in two weeks and already got a reminder and it says, Oh, closer to we'll get you, we'll send you some more. But just as a reminder, you have this appointment in Two weeks.

Carrie - Put it on your schedule, lady.

Kate (00:18:19) - Yeah. It's no longer just the 24-hour notice one, right? Like, so it's like. And I get them via text and email and phone calls and I'm like, Lordy, be forget that you are actually have something going on because otherwise, they're going to start calling you going, Hey, you haven't confirmed yet. And I'm like, Yes, I was in a meeting. It's like, you're right. I have not confirmed yet. But anyway, so don't be afraid to do that. Right. And use their communication tool. If you're calling them leaving messages and they've asked you to text, they're not going to respond to you. They've told you how to communicate. You need to be uncomfortable. You need to do the work yourself to be able to communicate with them. Okay, I'll get off my soapbox, but am going to move it just to the side a little, because one of the things that's going to be to help them be best prepared is not the second interview. It is not about hiring them.

Kate (00:19:15) - It's about the day they come in to fill out their paperwork,

Carrie - orientation day, orientation day, orientation day,

Kate - which should be at the absolute minimum in eight hours a day. If I had my way, everybody would have a week realize that not everybody gets that. But you know what? It needs to be at least eight hours and you need to help them make sure that they really know what they're doing and what their role is. I don't care how desperate you are for a warm body in that classroom. Do not leave a brand new person, even if they're not new to the industry, new to your program in a classroom their first day. They are not going to stay.

Carrie - You need to move. I mean, they might, but. A good portion won't. And they need to go into several different classrooms because if there is immediately a personality conflict with the other person who they would be working with if they were already scheduled to spend an hour in three different classrooms, we can salvage this because maybe somebody else wanted to move into the classroom and they're kind of grumpy that you hired somebody instead of letting them move.

Carrie (00:20:24) - So we might be able to move them into another classroom. Right. Think about this. Think about it and give them a chance to see different aspects of the program. And even if they do have to go into the classroom where there are some personality conflict, you can tell them halfway through that first day that they're in that classroom. I saw that you really gelled really nicely with Armando, and I'm really going to see what I can do to have you and Armando work together some over the next couple of weeks so that they are like, Aha, She saw that. I got along much better with this other person and I will eventually be able to work with the person who I got along with instead of this person who is rubbing me raw, right? So that kind of thing really helps because sometimes people leave at lunchtime and don't come back because they were expecting the first grade teacher thing. And sometimes it's because the person they're in the room with is just irritating them and they don't want to be there.

Carrie (00:21:25) - And if they don't know that there's a possibility that they can work in another place, then they're going to leave. Because that's what you did in high school. If you didn't like a teacher, you just stopped going to class. I know a lot of people who did it. They were just like, I will show up on Test day. Yeah, and that wasn't me. Um, but I have had plenty of the staff in college. Okay. You didn't say college. Okay. In school.

Kate - Okay, So one of the things we need to remember is that they've not worked in your program before. They don't know your business before. So everything to this date has been their first impression. They've now filled out paperwork, and at the minimum, they're spending eight hours with you. If you're not sure that your orientation process is a good fit to the type of culture you're looking for, ask your newest staff. Ask some staff that have been around. Make sure you take the time. The other thing to remember is to find out, especially in your interview, if not definitely orientation day, have the person who's there tell you about the other types of jobs they've worked at and the other types of managers they've had.

Carrie (00:22:43) - What if they've never had any? Kate, What if this is their first job ever and they're 18 years old and they graduated on Thursday.

Kate - So you know what? That is so great Carrie. I'm glad that you brought that up because that is a real thing, right? Like a lot of childcare centers, especially in small towns, even in large towns, we are getting first job people coming to work in child care. So first of all, remember, if they have never worked in childcare, they've got a few other requirements training-wise. Okay, so just go, go look at your licensing regs. Okay? So you may need to actually help them understand things they need to do at home to be successful in their job. So if you want them to be there at 8:00, clocked in, and ready to go, how early can they clock in at your work? So are you okay if she comes in at seven or if they come in at seven and they have a cup of coffee and they're kind of walking around the building chitchatting with everybody, or are you a be there at 745, go to the bathroom, put your purse up, put your phone up, get in your classroom and be ready to go.

Kate (00:23:50) - If that's who you are, you may have to take them back to how long does it take to get to where you are that early in the morning? What time do they need to get up? What time do they need to get the shower? I know this sounds silly, but I had a college graduate who before working for me, although she had worked the last five years, she had worked as a waitress in the evening where she went in at 3:00. So having to come to me, work with me and she had a couple of different places that she would work at. It wasn't always the same place. We had to sit down and we had to literally go through everything from Google Maps. And what time did Google Maps? So Google mapping it at midnight is not the same as Google mapping at the time that you have to leave. Right. Because, you know, if you've got something called rush hour, that's going to change the amount of time. So do it in a way that comes across as friendly or at least helpful.

Kate (00:24:46) - It may not come across friendly because there may just be some part of you that just is like shaking your head

Carrie - Well, but is that the director's job to teach somebody how to set an alarm on their phone?

Kate - And what absolutely if. You want that? If you think that person as a person you want to work for you, you've hired them, you've interviewed them. Do you want them to be successful at that job or do you want them to be unsuccessful at that job? Somebody somewhere was your first boss. Who was your first boss. Go back to your first boss. Think about all of the skills you learned from your first boss. I learned I never sit down and I always find something to clean. Those were things I learned from my first boss, Right? There was never there was never a just sit around. There was always something to clean. So even if there were no customers, there was always things to do. So again, everybody had that first boss. You get to decide what kind of first boss you want to be.

Kate (00:25:41) - I remember my second boss just as much as my first boss because my second boss, he was all about learning and really understanding the product. I worked in a computer software store and so every week we had homework. I didn't pay for that homework, but it was expected. He expected us to learn something new every week. Now, we also had weekly staff meetings which we were expected to be at, and we knew that going up front and we were expected to communicate and discuss what we were reading, learning about. Now, I still can't tell you anything about Lotus one, two, three, or C and Cobalt, but read those books. So I did much better with the biographies of those people. But there was a whole lot of books. But you know, it's just one of those things that you have to remember that somewhere there was you had your first 1 or 2 bosses, and so do you want to be that boss that they remember that really was the boss that helped you really figure out, you know, how to get to what it looks like to be a successful as an employee.

Kate (00:26:48) - Sometimes kids used to have part-time jobs or they used to deliver newspapers, so they used to have other things that they had to figure out some of those skills. Like I used to ride my bike to school, so I used to have to figure out what time I had to get there because my parents worked and my parents were already at work when I would ride my bike to school. So I had to figure out what time I had to get up and what time had to be on my bike to get to school because otherwise, my mom got a phone call. So, you know, you know, a lot of times those are kids aren't getting that and they may or may not have had a summer job. And if they're 18, you know, summer job times 15, 16, 17. So then, they may not have really had a summer job because there weren't a lot of lifeguarding opportunities happening. So anyway, you get to decide what kind of boss you want to be.

Carrie (00:27:30)- Yeah. And even if somebody has had jobs before, that doesn't mean they ever had a good boss who would explain to them why it's a big deal. If you're schedule for 7:00 that you be in the classroom at 7:00. So we have to explain it in a way that's going to be meaningful to those people. And yes, there are some people who would rather work in the gig economy. But here's the thing. If they were successful working in the gig economy, they wouldn't be working at your center because then they would be out writing, you know, doing an Uber or recharging those dang scooters or one of the other 50 different gig economy jobs I can think of off the top of my head. They applied to work at your center, which means these people have made a decision that the gig economy is not where they want to work. They want to work in the hourly economy. So we have to teach them how to do that. They may have had their own business for the past 15 years and they would like other people to make the decisions for them now. So they're going to come work for you so they don't have to make decisions all day.

Carrie (00:28:54) - And that means you have to teach them how to be an employee as opposed to an employer. We had one of those at our at our conference earlier this year. We had somebody who was like, oh, my God, he's run businesses. Why can he not just work? And the answer is because he knew how to be an employer but not an employee anymore. He'd forgotten and she needed to teach him how to be an employee. So if they've been in the gig economy or they've had their own business, they don't know these skills or they don't remember these skills. And it's part of our job. If we want people to succeed, according to PwC, it costs $5,000 every time you have staff turnover in child care in the state of Texas. So that's pretty specific. $5,000 in the state of Texas in child care. So I want to have that person succeed because I don't got five grand just laying around to get myself a new staff person. So do a good orientation, have the onboarding, take six weeks, make sure they're a good.

Carrie (00:29:58) - Ultra fit during your first and second interviews. And if you have a great workplace like we talked about last week, your employees will be your best recruiting tool and bring other people into your school. Any last words, Kate?

Kate - No last words were so excited that you joined us. Don't forget to share this episode if you aren't already subscribed. Subscribe. We'd love to have you do a review, which may mean that you have to listen to like five episodes. And you know, this series is three. If you want a couple of other recommendations, feel free to email us at or and we'll be happy to give you some recommendations of other episodes that we think are really, really valuable when it comes to staffing, marketing, whatever kind of resource you're looking for. 70 episodes, come join us.

Marie (00:30:53) - Thank you for listening to Child Care Conversations with Kate and Carrie. Want to learn more? Check out our website at And if you've learned anything today, leave us a comment below and share the show.