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My new venture stepping from retail into the education and childcare sector

Janine Leightley, HR Director at Bright Horizons

Spotlight on my first eight months at Bright Horizons 

I’m eight months into my HR role at Bright Horizons. My background is predominantly in retail, so it was a new venture for me to step into the education and childcare sector.

Since joining Bright Horizons, I’ve quickly learned that there are so many different facets to this organisation. Everyone who works here makes a difference every day. I have been captivated by the hard work, energy, and dedication of everyone and so impressed by the values that underpin our culture, and the way our success is being achieved by embracing this.

The commitment from senior management to keep all employees safe during the pandemic has been exemplary.  Our support services work tirelessly behind the scenes. As do our team working with our clients and their employees to provide work and family solutions. And, most importantly, our nursery staff do amazing work with our families day in and day out.

Our challenges ahead

We face the same growing challenge that is affecting all Early Years providers, there is a recognised skill shortage for qualified practitioners which means we must focus on growing our own talent – Apprenticeships and Graduate recruitment play a key part in fuelling our own talent pool.

We have put in place a high-quality Induction experience for all new colleagues, which is role specific. Each new team member has an induction buddy to support them throughout their first six months. We provide a mix of learning sources, from e-Learning modules, talking points with colleagues, and learning practical skills, to prioritise confidence in day-to-day nursery life.

We continue to support a range of fully funding apprenticeship opportunities, all of which include 20% of the working week to support studying, learning and development. Examples of our apprenticeships include.

  • Early Years Practitioner Level 2
  • Early Years Educator Level 3
  • Aspiring Leaders in Childcare Level 3 (Room Leaders)
  • Visionary Leaders in Childcare Level 5 (Nursery Managers)

We were proud to have recently joined The 5% Club – Committed to having 5% of our workforce “earning and learning”, within five years of joining our family.

Our competency framework

We have developed a competency framework that underpins all our people processes from recruitment to development to talent management and reward and this is relevant at every touch point we have with our employees.

For those aspiring to be Future Leaders and Managers at Bright Horizons we have put in place a “High Performance Hub”. This provides training, learning and development activities. One such award people can achieve through the hub is The Foundation Award. Key skills focused on here include modules on how to communicate effectively, how to present with power, and how to lead a high performing team. Another focus is on Coaching Skills, a three-level qualification curriculum, which is endorsed by the Institute of Leadership & Management, to support the entire Nursery team.

Immediate priorities

There are four key areas for us to tackle. These are as follows:

  1. Addressing the skills shortage, by putting in place talent programmes that will fuel a pipeline of talent and qualified staff for the future. We are looking to raise the profile of Bright Horizons as a great place to work by developing our own unique and employee value proposition which captures the essence of our business, helping us to understand and share why people are attracted to Bright Horizons, stay with us, and want to do business with us.
  2. We are also developing and promoting more flexible ways of working as we recognise that the world of work is changing, and the pandemic has been a real catalyst for this change. We are developing our own internal pool of supply practitioners who we can draw on that know the setting, its working practices and culture. 
  3. Health and wellbeing is high on our agenda, recognising that we need to provide educational programmes and support to ensure we help to look after the physical, mental, and financial health of our employees.
  4. Introducing an employee forum that will give all our employees a voice helping the shape the future of our business.

Longer term goals

To continue to develop Bright Horizons to be great place to work for everyone. A diverse and inclusive workplace, where we can all feel valued and celebrated. I also want us to be able to attract and retain the very best talent in the industry by providing an outstanding employee experience from the moment someone applies for a job to the moment they leave.

A stimulating environment that energises and promotes a positive and supportive culture.A focus on the very best succession and talent programmes that will help everyone reach their true potential, reward and recognition programmes that go beyond the norm helping to make our teams feel supported and valued, and wellbeing programmes that promote physical and mental health. We are investing heavily in employee development, nurturing talent, and providing rewarding careers.

Janine Leightley, HR Director at Bright Horizons

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