Preventing Burnout in Early Childhood Educators
Employee burnout in early childhood educators is a real problem; it lowers productivity, leads to poor morale and ultimately staff turnover. It can also spill over to problems in the classroom if not properly addressed. Therefore stress management for early childhood educators is crucial.
Center owners have dealt with burnout in early childhood educators for years, but since March 2020, it’s become even more commonplace as we all grapple with the fallout from COVID-19.
With the pandemic creating chaos in the standard procedures and schedules, some educators might be reaching their breaking points. That’s why it’s important to take proactive steps to ensure the mental and emotional well-being of your teachers and staff.
Below are five ways you can prevent and address burnout in early childhood educators as it’s happening.
Regularly check in: While you’re constantly in contact with your teachers and staff about your center’s operations, student progress, family concerns and more, how often are you checking in with your employees on how they’re doing mentally and emotionally?
Despite your best efforts, the answer is probably not enough.
Employees might be hesitant to speak up about any struggles they are experiencing. That’s why it’s important to check in with them regularly to see how they’re doing. Set aside time for regular check-ins with your staff and institute an open-door policy if you’re able. If you don’t have time for in-person meetings, consider creating a survey that can be sent out to staff on a regular basis regarding teacher wellness.
But remember, if you’re lending your ear to your entire staff, it’s good for you to have someone you can open up to about your own mental and emotional well-being. Find a mentor or another center owner in your network who you can lean on during these difficult times. If you’re having trouble finding someone to speak to, try looking for early education associations in your area; they can be a great source for mentors.
Encourage teachers to use their vacation time: A lot of times, your employees might feel that by taking vacation time, they’re leaving colleagues and managers hung out to dry. That’s why it’s important to emphasize teacher wellness and encourage your staff to take time off.
Explain to teachers that they can only be their best for their students, families, colleagues and themselves if they take time to recharge. Celebrate staff who take time off and be sure to check in with any who haven’t used their paid time off in a while in order to prevent burnout in early childhood educators.
For those who haven’t used leave, suggest, at minimum, they take a staycation. Staycations are great because they eliminate a lot of the stressors of a traditional vacation. After all, you want your employees returning to work refreshed and not needing a vacation from their vacation.
Also, you want to ensure you have proper coverage to staff your center if someone is on vacation so additional burden doesn’t fall on the rest of your employees. Reach out to educators in your area to secure a regular rotation of substitute staff so you’re never left short staffed.
Prioritize center wellness: Thereare a number of ways you can prioritize center wellness and therefore create a better environment for staff.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to encourage healthy eating. You pay close attention to your kiddos’ nutrition so why not that of your staff? Consider purchasing healthy snacks, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, and making them available to your employees.
Another tactic is promoting stress management techniques. There are several things you can do to help educators manage stress, but one of our favorites is setting out adult coloring books for your staff. For adults, coloring helps relax and generates a meditative state that can help them decompress. You might also consider hosting a regular yoga session for staff or creating a walking group to encourage physical fitness.
Finally, provide contact info for mental health resources and providers, and encourage your employees to take advantage of these resources to avoid burnout in early childhood educators.
Offer employee assistance programs (EAP): Speaking of promoting mental health resources, you can take it a step further by implementing an EAP at your center.
An EAP is an employee benefit program that assists employees with personal and work-related problems that may impact their health, and mental and emotional well-being.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, depression costs U.S. employers an estimated 200 million lost workdays a year.
An EAP is a proven initiative that helps all employers, regardless of industry, support employee mental and emotional health. While the scope of EAPs vary depending on the provider, most help with issues, including substance abuse, PTSD, anxiety, depression and more.
Practice good communication: If the last year taught us anything, it’s that everyone needs to be able to roll with the punches. You likely made operational changes regularly, and on a moment’s notice, to address various issues caused by the pandemic. Stress management for early childhood educators is vital in order for teachers to be able to adapt to changes without stressing or being overwhelmed.
And one way or the other, your staff learned about them. Hopefully, you had good communications tools in place, but if not, it’s time to invest in a digital system that lets you communicate quickly and effectively with not just your staff, but also your families.
Having a tool like this in place will help cut down on stress since your staff will know they’ll always learn about any important changes or info in real time. It’ll also help ensure they always have a direct line to you should they ever need to talk about anything going on in the classroom or the program.
That’s where LifeCubby’s award-winning childcare management software comes in. LifeCubby’s classroom and family apps simplify and digitize communication to keep your staff, teachers and parents in the know at all times.
And in addition to LifeCubby’s communications features, it also offers a host of other tools that can make your teachers’ lives easier and help prevent burnout including lesson planning tools, automated tuition billing and more.
Want to learn more about how LifeCubby can help reduce stress among your staff? Click HERE to sign-up for a free demo!