Trying to run a child care centre workforce using manual, paper-based processes is a bit like the fable of the frog slowly boiling alive in a pot. Like the frog who doesn’t realise how hot the water is getting as temperatures gradually increase, you may not realise how bad things have gotten at your child care centre until you take a step back and look at your current workflows with a fresh set of eyes.
When you do so, pay attention to the following nine signs in particular. Seeing any or all of them in your facility suggests that you could save time, save money, and improve staff morale with the implementation of a new child care workforce management software.
Sign #1: You’ve had under- or over-staffed shifts due to rostering errors
Does this sound familiar? You arrive at your child care centre, only to find more staff members on-site than you actually needed - or to find your team up in arms because you’ve inadvertently left them short-staffed.
Both of these scenarios are a problem. If you have more workers available than your ratios require, you’re losing money on excessive staffing. And if you’re understaffed, not only are you potentially putting your organisation at risk of compliance penalties, you’ll sow frustration amongst your staff and compromise the quality of care you’re able to deliver.
The scheduled number of children per hour in each room can be brought into the system through sophisticated integrations with your CCMS and compared to the required ratios for each age group. If the results are not as per requirement, the dashboard system can highlight changes required.
Sign #2: You find yourself struggling to manage Working with Children Checks
Expired certifications can easily fly under the radar in a paper-driven system. Tracking licences and certifications manually has an obvious weakness. Unless you check your records every day - and few child care workers have the free time available to make that a priority - there’s a good chance you’ll overlook an upcoming expiration.
One key benefit of adopting a new child care workforce management software is that you can capture pending expiration dates by worker and notify them far enough in advance that they can renew their licences or certifications before they expire. Never get caught off-guard by unexpected expirations again!
Sign #3: Your room or under-roof ratios are regularly out of compliance
Balancing staff cover has never been easy, and COVID has made the situation even worse. Now, on top of more common ratio issues, child care centres may need to accommodate workers who are out sick, who are out caring for others who are ill, or whose own child care resources may become abruptly unavailable.
Regardless of the source, regularly falling out of compliance with your room or under-roof ratios is a sign that your manual scheduling processes aren’t capturing the nuance needed for successful scheduling. A workforce management system can help you remain in compliance.
Sign #4: Overlapping annual or sick leave requests have inadvertently left you short-staffed
COVID-19 has impacted leave scheduling as well. But even if staff are taking time off for standard annual or sick leave, failing to account for when workers will be away from your facility can leave you short-staffed at the last minute. If you’ve ever verbally confirmed a leave request, and then accidentally offered the same time away to another worker, you know first-hand how easily these mistakes can occur.
Workforce management software can help in two ways. First, it can provide an automated means of capturing time-off requests from workers, so that you’re no longer the ‘middle person’ responsible for coordinating everything. In addition, solutions like Humanforce can incorporate black-out and grey-out rules, which prevent workers from scheduling leave during designated periods such as weeks other workers have already requested off.
Sign #5: You’re wasting time manually coordinating shift swap requests between workers
Juggling shift swaps can quickly become a nightmare without an automated process for facilitating roster changes. For example, if a worker calls off sick the morning of their shift, you’re likely to spend the next several hours calling and texting back and forth with others to provide cover. What poor use of time and energy for a manager.
Again, this is an area where workforce management solutions shine. When shifts become available - either due to pre-planned leave or unexpected absences - workers can bid on shifts or sign up to work from within the programme’s central app. Depending on the system you choose, they may even be able to handle coordinating shift swaps on their own, so that you or your managers’ only involvement becomes approving the change request.
Sign #6: The time managers spend on manual scheduling could be better spent elsewhere
Many of the signs above have to do with the manual work associated with scheduling. But while many child care centres consider these administrative responsibilities to be necessary evils, they don’t have to consume as much of your day as they do right now.
That’s why we recommend looking at the opportunity cost of the time associated with manual scheduling. What could you accomplish with those hours back? What other mission-critical projects could you handle if scheduling came largely off your plate? Adopting workforce management software can free your time up to tick bigger, more impactful items off your to-do list.
Sign #7: Your educators are losing time on manual work management tasks that could be spent with the children in your care
The issue of unnecessary administrative burden isn’t just confined to your centre’s leadership. Every minute your workers spend handling manual work management tasks - including requesting leave, swapping shifts, or updating personnel records - is a minute they aren’t educating or caring for your children.
Workforce management solutions can give them their time back as well, in addition to improving morale and offering features that promote internal engagement. No employee wants to waste time with cumbersome manual processes. Providing them with better solutions shows you care about their experience, improving morale and engagement overall.
Sign #8: You’ve had to spend time fixing a payroll error that resulted from paper-based time-keeping practices
Another challenge that comes along with manual rostering is the potential for payroll errors associated with inaccurate time-keeping. Not only can workforce management solutions minimise these issues with more robust clocking solutions (vs paper-based timesheets), a feature called ‘approval by exception’ can save you time when approving worker records.
With approval by exception, your workforce management software can automatically approve any timesheets that match the scheduling programmed into your roster. That way, the only records you need to manually approve are those that fall outside of expected parameters, saving you substantial time while also reducing potential payroll errors.
Sign #9: You’re using paper-based scheduling to manage staff across multiple centres and you don’t have visibility of today’s costs or tomorrow’s bookings
Many of the signs described above are challenging enough to manage if you have one centre. But if you’re coordinating workers across multiple centres, both your workload and the potential for errors increase if you’re still using paper-based scheduling. Having access to dashboards across all your centres also allows you to benchmark and highlight areas for continuous improvement or concern.
Adopting a New Child Care Workforce Management Software
Though the benefits described above represent a significant improvement over paper-based processes, implementing a new child care workforce management software doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming or even resource intensive.
Humanforce, a trusted partner to many Australian child care organisations, can assist with the implementation, taking your current processes and deliver your goals successfully.
For more information on how Humanforce can support your specific operations, reach out to our team to be connected directly with a Humanforce expert.