Hiring for a small business? Here’s how to find, train, and retain staff

We know how difficult it is to start a children’s activity business because at Sawyer, we work with thousands of educators and providers every day. That’s why we celebrate and support every business as they scale. Hiring employees is an extremely exciting and important step towards growth. (Not sure when to hire employees for your small business? Check out our guide to determine when it is right for you to build a team).

Are you ready to start hiring for a small business? We’ve outlined everything you need to know to successfully find, train, and retain a great team. In this article we’ll cover:

How to write a job description for your small business

The key to hiring is a job description that clearly explains what you are looking for in a candidate while also providing the necessary information for the candidate to know if the role is right for them. But, here’s the hard part: it also has to be brief enough that the candidate actually reads it! 

Here are some of our top tips so you can learn how to write a job description for your children’s activity or education business.

Choose the right job title 

In order to find the right person for the job, you need to use the right title. If you are looking for someone to write lesson plans and teach art classes to children, then make the job title “Art educator” or “Art teacher.” If you are hiring someone to set up & clean up the room, make photocopies, and organize pickup, call the role “Administrator” or “Assistant.” You want to start your relationship off on the right foot, so be truthful in the title. If you are not sure what to title your role, look at other, similar job descriptions and titles for guidance.

Hook your reader

In The Great Resignation, candidates are looking for jobs that they actually want. With an increased demand for employees and a low rate of unemployment, it’s a “jobseeker’s market.” This means that candidates aren’t the only ones who need to market themselves, employers also need to put their best foot forward to attract talent. Think of your job description as a marketing asset. What can you say about your small business that sets you apart from the others? Be honest, but let your candidates know why they should be interested in working with you.

Clearly state the responsibilities

This is one of the most important parts of your job description. What will the candidate actually be doing at your company? It is good to be detailed here, but ensure it is clear and easy to understand. Try to imagine a typical day for this role and then, using bullet points or a numbered list, organize these duties.

Explain the qualifications needed

There are a fair number of specific child care qualifications needed in order to work at a children’s activity or education company. Make sure you are aware of what is required for your specific business and in your city. The NYC Health Department has a full list of requirements needed for group child care providers, including degrees & certifications, healthcare training, and child abuse screening. Likewise, be sure to include the other qualifications the candidate will need to properly perform the job.

Include salary and benefits

According to a survey done by Monster in 2020, 73% of candidates reported salary was the most important factor when looking for a new job. In addition, 58% of candidates said that they turned down offers because the salary was too low. We always recommend putting the salary and benefits right in the job description so you can save time and only speak with candidates who are willing to accept the salary.

How to attract Generation Z employees

When you run a children’s activity or education business, you likely have busy seasons and quiet seasons. When you are in the peak, it might make sense to hire more seasonal staff members, for example, camp counselors or soccer coaches, to meet the heightened demand. So, how do you attract Generation Z employees who are looking to expand their skills by working seasonally?

  • Focus on growth. What will your Gen Z employees learn while working at your business? Whether they are still in college or just starting their careers, these young employees want to know that they are not going to be stagnant. How will this experience help them moving forward?
  • Foster community. Open up opportunities for leadership and peer mentorship with your young employees. They want to learn so they can lead and be successful at your company and beyond.
  • Highlight diversity. Talk about the students you serve or the type of staff that work at your children’s activity or education company. Generation Z is the most diverse workforce, according to Pew Research, and they want to see that reflected in their company.
  • Be a mentor and an active listener. Let them know you are there to answer questions, but also that they can come to you with ideas for change. Really listen and then implement their suggestions so they feel heard and valued.
  • Let them explore. Exploration and discovery are great ways to keep Gen Z employees engaged and excited about coming to work each day. As they learn new parts of your business, they can see what works best for them and how they can help you grow.
  • Pay them well. Even if they are still in school, Gen Z is looking to support themselves. Don’t give them college credit, make sure you actually pay them so that they can feel pride in their work and get what they need to live.

How to train employees

According to TinyPulse, ​​91% of employees stay for at least 1 year when organizations have efficient onboarding. Therefore, in order to set your employees up for success at your company, you need to train them properly. Lack of sufficient training can lead to big problems for your business in general, but it is especially detrimental to businesses that work with children. Here are some of our top tips on how to train employees to thrive in a successful and safe working environment.

  • Provide adequate documentation. Before starting with any training, give your employees the training on paper. This will help them follow along as active listeners and refer back to their notes later on. Documentation is also helpful for the trainer because it keeps everyone on the same page (literally).
  • Utilize up-to-date best practices. When preparing your training materials, do research on current standards. Even if you have years of experience, it is important for you to understand what has changed and update your materials accordingly. 
  • Be open to questions. Training might not feel like the best use of your time, but it is imperative for your employees to feel comfortable in their roles. Plus, when working with children, ample training can truly be lifesaving. So, make sure you are continually making space for questions throughout the training period. In addition, establish an open-door policy with your staff members so that they know they can go to you with additional questions whenever they arise.
  • Build in reviews. Even if you are working with seasonal staff members, it is extremely important to set aside specific time for reviews. Assess your team on what they are doing correctly and what they could improve upon. Then, reintroduce training to help them grow.

How to motivate employees 

Beyond a strong onboarding and training process, you also need to know how to motivate employees to keep them engaged and happy. Motivation is the key to retention. Here are our top tips so you can motivate your employees and keep them on staff.

  • Recognize when employees are doing well and when they need help. Of course, employees want to be praised for a job well done. It is a great feeling to be recognized by the manager or team leader when they are doing well at work. But, sometimes it is even better to be recognized when you need support. That’s why a good manager understands where their employees might be struggling. Then, politely and kindly, they offer assistance, additional training, and whatever else that employee might need to succeed.
  • Give your staff autonomy. Nobody likes a micro-manager. Allowing your employees autonomy will help them feel motivated to continue doing well at your company. Likewise, it gives them a stake in the success of the company and the children you teach. Let them create the lesson plan for a class, organize a game, or introduce a new element to a camp program. 
  • Review and promote frequently. Employees who can see an upward trajectory are more likely to stay motivated and engaged at work. In fact, Tiny Pulse found that “employees who feel they’re progressing in their careers are 20% more likely to still be working at their companies in one year’s time.” Spend time working with each employee on how they can improve on their skills and grow. When they do, give monetary as well as title-based promotions, so employees can tangibly see their successes. You can also provide seasonal awards for your team to keep them excited. Check out our guide with holiday gift ideas for employees for inspiration.
  • Include the team in company goal-setting. At the beginning of the semester or camp, sit down with your whole team and work through the goals for the season and the company together. When employees are part of the bigger picture, they are more interested and excited to help it come to fruition.

Looking for more guidance on how to retain employees? Check out our guide.

Now you should be well on your way to successful hiring for your small business so that you can find, train, and retain a great group of employees. If you are looking for additional support as you start or scale your children’s activity or education business, the team and tools at Sawyer are here to help.

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