Back in 2022, Bright Horizons wowed the judges with their holistic talent strategy and won the Learning category of the Culture Pioneer Awards. Their comprehensive three-part induction programme is designed to incite and excite a passion for learning and personal growth and it continues to do just that. James Sharrod, Pathways Manager and Carole Henderson, Pathways Regulatory Manager, share recent achievements, including how they are supporting their people through the cost of living crisis.
Are you passionate about learning opportunities for your colleagues? Could you be the next Learning category Culture Pioneer Awards winner? This year’s entries are now open.
What does it mean to you to have won a Culture Pioneer Award?
James: It means a lot. Our people culture is really important at Bright Horizons. If we get our people right, our business is able to succeed. It’s so important to us to always be putting our people first and we’re always thinking of ways that they can continually learn and develop on their own learning pathway to make sure that, ultimately, we’re producing good outcomes for the children.
It’s so important to us to always be putting our people first and we’re always thinking of ways that they can continually learn and develop
What have you been working on since your entry?
James: Since the entry, we’ve continued to expand on our offering. There’s a pathway for everybody at Bright Horizons to develop into whoever they want to be. We’ve now got a leadership pathway for anybody that is unqualified that takes them right through to a director’s programme.
We’ve also created an internal curriculum that’s now expanded into an early years excellence hub. It’s a one-stop-shop for all of our educators and all of our staff that work in our nurseries to access training in line with their pedagogical development.
There’s a pathway for everybody at Bright Horizons to develop into whoever they want to be
A number of our internal e-learning modules are now CPD accredited and they’re in fields that we’re really passionate about. This includes three mental health e-learning courses, one of which is to create mental health ambassadors. We have a mental health ambassador in each of our settings across the country. This has been really successful and has helped us support our staff. We know that mental health exists everywhere and it’s something that we ensure we dedicate time to.
Another module we created that is now CPD accredited is on domestic abuse and domestic violence. We’ve started to partner with some charities to be able to give that away for free.
A lot has changed in the world since you submitted your entry last year. How are you supporting your employees through these challenging times?
Carole: We’ve done a lot to support our employees with rewards and benefits packages, which we have increased along with our salaries.
We invested over £10 million to ensure that our pay was competitive. We’re introducing paid for railcards to support costs in commuting. We’ve also partnered with Salary Finance to offer colleagues loans at interest rates that compete with high street lenders. We are giving them advance access to their wages, so they can pay themselves weekly, which can help with budgeting. We’ve also got saving accounts that colleagues can pay into straight from the payroll.
We invested over £10 million to ensure that our pay was competitive
James: The biggest of those was the £10 million investment, straight into employee wages. We’ve seen the positive impacts of that and people wanting to stay because we can pay them enough to help with the cost of living crisis.
It’s not easy to be able to pay people more money and it’s something that we were really passionate about, and something we’re really proud of.
We stand for honesty, excellence, accountability, respect and teamwork and inclusion is at the heart of all we do
Are there other achievements you’re particularly proud of?
James: We’re most proud of our apprenticeships. We have more than 500 apprentices at Bright Horizons and are aiming to have 500 more this year. We have 7% of our staff on an apprenticeship, which enables us to continue to be part of The 5% Club.
And we’re always looking to expand the different sorts of apprenticeships that we can offer. We have a big focus on bringing new early educators into the childcare sector, because it’s a sector that is struggling to have qualified practitioners.
We are passionate about being able to bring people in and train them ourselves, rather than having to recruit for new skills.
We have 7% of our staff on an apprenticeship, which enables us to continue to be part of The 5% Club
Carole: What makes me proud is seeing the way that our past apprentices have thrived and stayed at Bright Horizons.
We’ve got people that started off as unqualified nursery assistants who are now nursery managers, and to see those people begin to love learning after having sometimes had quite a difficult time at school, and to gain confidence and go on to do higher qualifications is amazing.
What makes me proud is seeing the way that our past apprentices have thrived and stayed at Bright Horizons
Could you share the most important lessons you have learned?
Carole: One is the importance of apprenticeships at all levels. The lesson here is to nurture your talent.
James: Another is that for us to be a sector leader we have to be bold and brave in what we do. We always want to be brave in our approach to L&D and being able to take on new projects. Some of that comes with an element of risk but that’s needed to be able to provide the best for your employees.
A third lesson is that we live and breathe our heart principles at Bright Horizons. We stand for honesty, excellence, accountability, respect and teamwork and inclusion is at the heart of all we do now.
It’s important that everybody has the opportunity to have their own professional pathway and know where and how they can develop.
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