Understanding Your Workforce

Understand the Needs of Your Staff!

The most important assets of any institution are your employees. They are the ones who work day in day out to make sure that everything is working optimally. It is for this reason that it is important to analyze their feelings and requirements, to understand their needs and strengths so they know that they are valued members of the workforce for after school.

As a director, showing your staff that you understand their knowledge base and how they interact with students is key to having them feel valued. This results in an environment that helps create a supportive and positive relationship between the staff, students and the director. We often underestimate the power of kind words and offering honest compliments. These can have the potential to turn the life around for a staff member in ways they interact with students.

If an employee feels welcomed and valued, they are more likely to stay than to leave for another place that even though may offer them a higher pay, but they will think twice before leaving behind the relationships they have created with you and the children. By listening to your staff members, you can find out about things that might affect in retaining them.

Retention is Key!

Because retention is a challenge in our field of work, it is crucial that you show a great deal of importance to the work they do every day and the children they serve. If they feel like pursuing another career, you can ask them to keep on working while they go after any other life goals.  They can even contribute to the children by creating activity that reflect their career goals; like fashion or computer science.  It is a win-win, for everyone. This will allow you to get their best during their time with you.

The reason for interacting with your staff is to know the motivations for why they are working for you. This will allow you to gain an insight into what keeps them here. With this knowledge, you can develop plans to keep your various staff members happy to ensure retention.

Another way of learning more about your staff is to get feedback from students. By opting for anonymous feedback, each and every student will be able to partake and provide valuable information regarding the staff members and which ones are valued the most among students.

In order to ensure that you retain your staff, it is crucial that you meet and address your staff’s specific needs by addressing what they are. By giving them a development plan that ensures the fulfillment of these specific needs, you are taking a big step in ensuring their retention.

Observing the Needs of Your Staff

One of the biggest challenges after school programs face is their ability to recruit and then retain their educator/teacher workforce. In order for an educational system to function at its optimal best, it is vital that the staff working there is dedicated to the service they have been hired to perform child development.

They need to prepare each and every child to be ready to face today’s knowledge driven society. It is critical that you know your staff skills on how to work with children and youth before they step into the classroom.  Some staff only know how to teach, the way they were taught in school.  That may not be to standards you want in your program. This is an issue that can have dire ramifications for the rising numbers of students as there are less and less staff who are ready to teach for long term purposes.

As a director, you need to ensure that you retain your staff by allowing them to pursue their own human development programs, so they can commit to staying with you for long term. This can have a real beneficial impact on students’ learning. Things you should focus on when retaining your staff are:

  • Incentives in Addition to Salary
  • Professional Collaboration
  • Teaching & Learning Resources for Students
  • Time to Pursue Other Life Goals
  • Working Conditions
  • Treated like a Valued Member of the Staff

It is critical that you address your staff on a regular basis to stay in the know regarding what they need to perform at their best with students. As a director, should know their motivations as to why they have chosen to work for you as this will enable you to learn more about them, their personal goals and what they wish to achieve in the future!

To receive a FREE training video on how to access your staff Knowledge, Capacity and Motives for your after-school program please contact us at


By Sonia Toledo, CEO of Dignity of Children