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Designing Jobs in Childcare: Fostering Workforce Engagement through Task Significance and Feedback

Hamid Akbari, Ph.D., Director of Say Yes to Childcare ECE Workforce Servant Leader Teachers Academy

Two key elements that deserve attention when designing jobs in childcare are attracting and retaining a qualified workforce. To achieve this, directors can employ effective job design principles by incorporating two elements from Hackman and Oldham’s model: task significance and feedback.

1) Task Significance involves recognizing the impact of one’s job on the well-being of others in the community and society as a whole. When individuals believe in the positive influence their work has on society, they experience a greater sense of motivation and fulfillment. The significance of childcare in promoting the well-being of the community cannot be overstated. The first five years of a child’s life can profoundly shape their development, as well as that of their family and community. While this understanding is recognized, it is essential to consider how much of it is effectively communicated and emphasized during conversations between directors and their staff, particularly in the hiring, retention, and motivation processes. Directors should make a deliberate effort to highlight this unique task significance to both prospective and current teachers and childcare staff.

2) Feedback involves providing teachers and staff with information about their performance and progress. In childcare settings, it is crucial for teachers and staff to receive feedback that pertains specifically to their work. For instance, directors can share their observations regarding parents’ reports of satisfaction with a child’s reading skills or social interactions. Another approach is to establish feedback loops between parents and teachers, where parents provide input on their child’s progress three to six months after transitioning to kindergarten or first grade, along with an assessment of the child’s actual performance.

By intentionally highlighting task significance and offering feedback, directors can enhance the overall positive experience and job satisfaction of childcare teachers and staff. This approach fosters a sense of purpose and recognition for their contributions, ultimately contributing to the attraction and retention of dedicated professionals in the field of childcare.

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