It seems there is always a need for teachers, especially preschool teachers. It has become difficult to find quality teachers who are much more than babysitters and who won’t quit when the going gets tough.

Directors are in need of good quality people. Once these special candidates are found, the question becomes how do you keep them? Here are 10 ways to reduce turnover and keep your staff on board.

1. Be a friendly and respected leader.

It is up to the director to set the tone of the work environment. This might be one of the most important jobs a director of any company has. What is friendly? Friendly is remembering the names of your staff and greeting them each morning. Greet them with a smile and a positive attitude. Become aware of their strengths and weaknesses in the classroom and offer unofficial advice or praises. Friendly is not always going out to dinner or visiting their home. Be cautious, because a leader must always be respected. Respect comes when you are doing the right thing even when no one’s looking. Treat everyone kindly. Remember if you respect someone you will find it difficult to let them down.

2. Give responsibilities to the teachers.

Putting teachers in charge of certain parts of the school will allow them to feel connected and will relieve tasks from your schedule. Create a chart with everyone’s name on it and a variety of responsibilities. These jobs can range from turning all the lights on each morning, preparing snacks or making sure everyone takes out the trash each day. Delegating responsibility is important for your staff to see you trust them. Also, when someone helps in the day to day operation of their workplace they take ownership of their job which inevitably benefits everyone.

3. Compliment your teachers more than complaining about them.

Complaining about your staff in an open forum is unprofessional. Constantly complaining or critiquing your staff one-on-one is a waste of your time. It is the gift of an educator to deliver constructive criticism in a way that is helpful. Announce at a staff meeting when an employee is excelling at their job. Informally speak one on one with a teacher to compliment a choice they made throughout their workday. In order for you to find compliments to deliver to your staff you must keep your ears and eyes open to what is going on in your school.

4. Open door policy.

Teachers need to feel they can talk to their director without a scheduled appointment. This is true because questions or problems among teachers do not arise during a scheduled time and often there are situations that need to be handled promptly. Allow your teachers to speak to you at any time. If they urgently need to speak to you during the school day and they are teaching, come to their classroom. Be flexible and approachable. There is nothing worse than always seeing your director in their office alone with the door closed.

5. Stand up for your teachers.

As a parent I can firmly say one of the many jobs of a parent is to stand up for your child. I like to think of it as you are your child’s attorney. It does not matter if your child’s decision is right or wrong you must defend them! As a former teacher I can confirm this usually happens at school. It is the job of the director to back your teacher. Now the teacher may be wrong, but it is the responsibility of the director to help their teacher and resolve the issue. Always stand up for your teachers in every situation.

6. Monthly professional development opportunities.

The field of education and the methods that are being taught are constantly changing. Even though the actual concepts of preschool education has not changed, there are always new techniques, games, songs or other ways to teach them. The director should always be looking for new ways to educate and encourage lifelong learning among the staff. Many schools ask their teachers to attend a yearly conference together. Invite speakers or other educators to your school. Most states require that each teacher obtain a certain amount of professional development hours each year. If your staff is offered fun and exciting events to attend, meeting their quota will not be difficult!

7. Teacher of the month.

One of the schools in which I taught, awarded an outstanding teacher award each month at the monthly staff meeting. We all knew by the end of the year almost all of us would receive one. When the award was presented the director would speak about why you were chosen that month. They took a minute out of the meeting to praise you in front of your peers. All of the teachers would hang this award in their room. It was small, yet significant. This is one more important way to let your staff know they matter.

8. Celebrations.

Find simple ways to celebrate the holidays with your teachers and staff. They are your employees, but hopefully, they have become your work family as well. Create traditions to celebrate staff birthdays. Ask someone to head up and organize a Thanksgiving potluck feast. Find a place away from work to celebrate Christmas and have a gift exchange. Allow staff to bring their family or friends. Most of your waking hours are spent together. Celebrate each other!

9. Clear and consistent rules and regulations.

It is human nature for all of us to want boundaries even if we do not realize it. Overall people feel safer and more comfortable with rules and expectations. Be clear and consistent with rules and regulations among all staff. Explain your rules and why they are important to you. Often times the rules are not your own and you must explain why they are mandatory. It is very important to not allow certain employees exemption to the rules. Remember you are a role model for all your employees. Be consistent!

10. Wages and benefits.

Even though we would like to think so, most teachers would not come to school voluntarily. Salary and benefits are definite benefits of the job. Most directors have a set range for salaries, bonuses and raises. Pay your staff competitively and in a manner that shows you would like to keep them as an employee. There are also other ways to add to your staff’s compensation. Reward good work with a coffee gift card or free manicure. Pass out free monogrammed water bottles, bags or clipboards. Every little motivation or inspiration counts. When in doubt give out gift cards!

Hopefully this gives you several ideas on ways to keep your staff. Preschool teachers are wonderful, creative and loving teachers. Give them a reason to stay and love on your children!