Tell us about a usual working day?
I don’t have one! No day is ever the same. I start the day with a well-tested routine, but once I get into work it all changes, based on what is in my diary, which is always busy. I’m very active, and like to make regular visits to all Kids Allowed centres. This means I do a lot of mobile working on my phone. At Kids Allowed we are very active on social media and like to engage with customers and clients at a time that best suits them, 24/7.
What’s Kids Allowed proudest achievement?
Being recognised as a good place to send your kids, as well as a great place to work. Knowing we have achieved both makes us proud. If our staff weren’t engaged with their job, it would make it challenging to create a caring and fun environment loved by both children and parents.
How many employees work for Kids Allowed – front-of-house and back office?
333 staff in total, yet it is always growing as we continue to open new nurseries and bring in new people. We tend to recruit on a monthly basis.
I can see from the list of industry awards you’ve received that you obviously put staff development at the core of your business (Investors in People award, Training and Development awards etc.). How important are the people who work for Kids Allowed in the success you’ve achieved?
Our people make Kids Allowed what it is, and we make sure they know this and that they are valued. We are a people business – full of the best characteristics: caring, sharing, energy, fun, commitment and heart. Without people who offer these characteristics, we would just be a cold, sterile place full of rules and regulations.
We’re lucky that our staff share my enthusiasm for Kids Allowed and belief in exemplary service, which is important because our customers’ experience is with the frontline staff, not me.
Kids Allowed keeps expanding in popularity and location – one of your new centres has recently opened across the street from where I live. How do you go about finding the best staff to maintain your high standards?
The majority of new applicants come to us, rather than we go to them. We rarely use recruitment agencies. Hopeful recruits can engage with us via our website and make applications online.
We invest a lot into developing our staff, which makes us an attractive place to work. We have our own Academy, which is like a college where staff receive bespoke training on all aspects of working for Kids Allowed. For instance, all new starters receive a 12 week training program, after which only the best are selected for further employment. It’s a big investment but we are very specific about the high standards we expect from all out staff and feel that this sort of training and awareness couldn’t be delivered by an external agency.
When deciding on the criteria that makes a good employee, we are looking for them to be ‘kids allowed’, which sounds ambiguous but is about finding people who share our values and ideal behaviours. It is less about qualification and always our attention is on a person’s characteristics.
With responsibility for children, I imagine it is vitally important to have engaged staff, not only for safety reasons but for keeping the children engaged and helping with their development. How do you go about keeping your staff motivated?
It starts with getting the right people with right values and behaviours. We like self-starters who are capable of demonstrating high-levels of initiative and personal development. We tend to find this type of person is always motivated.
In addition, we provide our staff with access to the best training in the field. We also have a good internal communication that keeps staff informed of developments at Kids Allowed, whilst also demonstrating personal touches such as showing gratitude for a good days work. Good leadership is very important to creating an engaged and positive working environment
Do you keep up-to-date with new employment law and health & safety legislation and react accordingly?
We have a HR team who does this. We deal with a wide breadth of legislation, covering many areas such as employment law and health and safety. It is crucial that we keep up to date with any developments in these areas, not only for insurance purposes but also because we like to have a proactive approach to embedding changes into the business, from the senior managers through to the frontline staff. Changes are communicated and we always provide adequate training to the affected staff.
What makes you optimistic?
I love what we do at Kids Allowed and this keeps me optimistic. I also like to know that what we do makes a difference in the development of the children who come to Kids Allowed.
The pursuit of excellence is central to our ethos. The ideal of absolute perfection is unobtainable, yet we strive for it, like we do success, because we thrive off the challenge. We know we are on the right track when we speak with the parents who send children to Kids Allowed. Happy parents make for happy workers.