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People & Team


We created a bespoke training programme to invest in employee development

Danielle Butler, operations director at Tommies Childcare, helped to create a bespoke training programme
Danielle Butler organised quarterly “listening lunches” to define the needs of the training

Name: Tommies Childcare
Location: Coventry
Employees: 85
Founded in: 1995
Tip: “The best way to develop employees is to build relationships with them.”

The problem

In its 20 years of business, Tommies Childcare has opened eight pre-school nursery sites across the East and West Midlands. 

“When I started at Tommies Childcare in 2015, we made the decision to put our employees at the heart of everything we do,” said operations director Danielle Butler. “If our staff were happy and engaged, this would have a positive impact on the quality of our service.”

But the company struggled to find funding in the sector to offer professional development opportunities to its staff. There was the cost of the training itself, but they also needed a certain ratio of staff to children. This meant the company had to pay to replace employees when they left the nurseries to attend a training programme.  

The solution

It was unlikely that the company would overcome the financial challenges, but Danielle still wanted to invest in employee training.

In 2018, the company outsourced its training. However, employee feedback showed that they wanted something more bespoke for their organisation. 

“We decided that in order to make the training programme completely bespoke, we would need to look at the skills we had internally. Then we could use these to deliver in-house training that was tailored to our business needs,” explained Danielle. 

They held discussions with employees at their quarterly “listening lunches” and used managers’ feedback to help define the needs of the training. It meant that any training could hone in on the most crucial areas. Out of this came a programme that supported all roles within the business, from practitioners to HR.

In order to assess the effectiveness of the training, Danielle gave staff a “reflective portfolio”. In this portfolio, staff could evaluate and reflect on their training and development opportunities.

The results

Danielle believes this holistic view of training has helped them clarify what they want to achieve in the short and long term. 

“The feedback we’ve received from training this year has been positive so much so that we’re continuing delivery into next year, with more training courses being provided on the programme,” said Danielle.

“When employees feel valued and understand the contribution they make to your organisation, they are more likely to feel positive about gaining new skills.”

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