Adventures Day Nursery is a private children’s nursery in Belfast. The business opened in 2006 and since then has grown to employ over 25 full-time and part-time staff.
Maria McDonagh, Manager at Adventures Day Nursery, explains how they introduced family-friendly initiatives to help and support their employees.
Prioritise your policies
“During the last five years, we have introduced workplace initiatives to ensure our staff have the best possible work-life balance. We encourage employees to suggest workplace schemes that will benefit them.
Our challenge has been to implement rewarding initiatives that are low-cost. For example, we offer job-sharing and have implemented support so that pregnant employees have the option to transfer to lighter duties and shorter shifts. We also have an open door policy so that management are available to staff at all times.
We have introduced initiatives to reduce stress and offer staff support on a personal level. We ensure we have adequate cover when employees need to take time off work at short notice. To help reduce financial pressures for our staff we enable them, if needed, to receive part of their salary in the middle of the month rather than having to wait until payday.
Our ‘special leave’ policy allows staff paid time off during a bereavement or family celebration. Employees may also take unpaid leave when needed. We also have a ‘sunshine hours’ policy – this allows staff to finish shifts early on a rotational basis whenever the weather is good.”
Consult and communicate with staff
“A big challenge we have faced in implementing family-friendly initiatives has come from ensuring that our policies are fair to all our staff. Not all of our employees have dependent children, so we have made sure to have other initiatives that benefit and appeal to all workers.
Our staff are always involved in helping to create new initiatives. Schemes are proposed through our staff suggestion scheme, and at the monthly one-to-one meetings.
The rules for each initiative are discussed and agreed with all staff to ensure a high degree of fairness across all policies.
Also as a service provider, we must ensure our staff initiatives do not negatively affect the quality of service we provide to our customers. We minimise business risks by creating a supportive environment, where staff are happy to assist and support each other.
All staff are made aware of workplace initiatives at their induction programme, their monthly meetings and through the monthly staff newsletters."
Review and update your policies
“We regularly review our policies to ensure that we are compliant with legislation. As the nursery manager, I attend seminars and conferences to ensure we maintain our legal responsibilities."
“We use questionnaires and one-to-one meetings to get feedback from staff. These help us to identify our initiatives that have benefited the organisation. The measures we evaluate against the schemes include improved morale in the business, lowered sickness and absence rates, low staff turnover and customer satisfaction.
We have also won awards for our commitment to supporting our staff, and for the service, we offer our customers.”