Standing out as an ECEC employer of choice in a workforce shortage environment
The Sector > Workforce > Standing out as an ECEC employer of choice in a workforce shortage environment

Standing out as an ECEC employer of choice in a workforce shortage environment

by Freya Lucas

August 25, 2021

It’s no secret that it is becoming increasingly challenging to secure high-quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) professionals to fill the multitude of vacancies available in the sector across the country. 


An increasingly competitive provider market combined with the challenges of personnel movement from interstate and overseas as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, against a backdrop of low recognition and wages has meant that many service providers are asking themselves how they can stand out as an employer of choice and increase their chances of filling vacant positions. 


For insights, we drew on this piece prepared by Early Learning Placements, a boutique recruitment agency operating in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide. 


Do something different 


The first piece of advice from the recruitment team is to dare to be different to others in the market. 


Despite the ECEC sector being 97 per cent female, as an employer, the sector is not as family friendly as it could be, leaving an opportunity for employers to consider options to make themselves more attractive to potential employees with young families, such as job sharing or fixed shifts which allow educators to pick up or drop off their own children. 


Identifying the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards which motivate each individual candidate can also help ECEC employers to secure the best talent. Don’t assume that because one educator is motivated by monthly bonuses, for example, that all will be. Others may prefer an RDO, while others still may prefer more annual leave, or study support.  


Money matters – but how much?  


At the end of the day, it’s very unlikely that any employee will work for free, but having said that, few would be lured to ECEC by illustrious wages. Most of those working in the sector are drawn to do so by a desire to make a difference in the lives of children and families. 


As a result the salary negotiation process only holds so much weight. Non-monetary rewards which are derived from the work itself or from the organisation’s culture, and which might be strong points for negotiation may include:


  • Programming time – as well as ensuring that employees receive the legally required programming each week as a non-negotiable, giving additional programming time, particularly to those who hold extra responsibilities such as educational leader can support a service to stand out as an employer of choice
  • Annual leave – having the flexibility to support employees to take their annual leave at a time which works for them, rather than having to save it for end of year closures, or being restricted to less popular times by other employees taking leave. One measure ECEC may wish to adopt, which is commonplace in other sectors and industries, is allowing employees to provide an additional one or two weeks of leave, either pro rata, or for employees to purchase


  • Increased personal leave – here the advice is simple “think of what works for you and then offer those key things to your own team”. Especially for those parents within the team, having flexibility to attend to their own children is key. 
  • Professional learning – sending staff to conferences, providing tuition reimbursement, supporting professional memberships.


  • Temporary living allowances, travel expenses and spousal re-employment expenses may support regional and rural services to attract and retain talent. 
  • Salary sacrifices – for some services, the option for employees to salary scarify (pre-tax) their computer, personal loans, ongoing personal career development may make a position more appealing.
  • Hire an extra staff member to provide the team with flexibility and lessen pressure which will in turn reduce the costs of a casual, and hopefully also staff turnover. 


Financial incentives


Despite the fact that there are a range of non monetary incentives which may induce a candidate to choose your service over another, some prospective employees may be more fiscally driven. When it comes to monetary incentives, some of the following are points where services can add value with money: 


  • Salary
  • Additional-salary compensation – performance bonuses, profit share,
  • Sign-on bonuses
  • Share options
  • Salary sacrifice
  • Increased employer-paid superannuation contributions.


To read the original coverage of this piece, please see here

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