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How a Great Employee Experience Decreases Voluntary Turnover in Education & Training

29 May 2024

Top-performing employers in the education and training sector provide their employees with avenues for professional growth, flexibility in how they do their work, and fair pay for all.

The result: employees experience higher levels of job satisfaction, wellbeing, and a stronger intent to stay with the organisation.

But this isn’t just the data talking.

I’m the daughter of a teacher-turned-librarian, and a working mum whose childminder started out in early years education. I'm also friend to a handful of other working parents who are performing administrative or teaching roles in various settings within the sector, hearing countless tales of the joys and struggles that these types of employees experience at work.

Worryingly, our more recent conversations have started to echo what employees across the UK have told Great Place To Work: education and training employees are not just looking to quit their jobs – they’re looking to leave the sector entirely.

Take the results of our 2023 UK Population study, for example, which gives us first-hand feedback from men and women working in education and training:

  • Only 59% of education & training employees believe they are offered training or development to further themselves professionally;
  • Just half (50%) of survey respondents agree their workplace “is a psychologically and emotionally healthy place to work”;
  • And a miniscule 24% feel they receive a fair share of the profits made by their organisation.

And it's not just us. According to the latest workforce survey by the Department for Education (DfE), almost 9% of the UK’s teaching workforce resigned from state schools in 2022 – the highest figure since the DfE first published the data in 2011.

The good news is, it doesn’t have to be like this.

Delivering a great employee experience for education and training employees, whilst simultaneously growing your business, is possible.

Out of the 365 companies on the 2024 UK’s Best Workplaces List, six are education and training organisations.

When asked about their experience in our anonymous survey, 8 in 10 of the 10,766 employees we surveyed at these awarded organisations said they genuinely “look forward to coming to work” – double the sector’s national average of only 4 in 10.

Moreover, 9 in 10 told us they want to stay at their employer “for a long time” (vs. the sector’s national average of just 6 in 10).

How great culture decreases voluntary turnover

Here’s what else we know from our analysis of over 10,700 survey responses from education and training employees across the UK:

1. A ‘great’ workplace in education & training involves development for all


With over 8,300 employees working in around 290 nurseries and preschools across the country, Bright Horizons Family Solutions is a powerhouse of early years care and education.

They’re also a true champion of exceptional company culture and L&D.

The company has ranked on the UK’s Best Workplaces List since 2006 (currently in the Top 15 Super Large size organisations), and made it onto our inaugural 2024 UK’s Best Workplaces for Development™ List, in rank 18.

In fact, their people have so much love for where they work, over 300 former employees returned to Bright Horizons in 2022 alone!

One of the key reasons for this is how Bright Horizons ensures every individual has opportunities to grow professionally – no matter what their role, seniority or geography.

Ros Marshall, UK Managing Director at Bright Horizons, said:

“We are so proud to receive this recognition. Our HEART principles: Honesty, Excellence, Accountability, Respect, and Teamwork help us to create a unique relationship with our colleagues, which sets us apart as an employer of choice. We listen to our workforce, and continue to learn from each other. We offer a comprehensive induction process for all team members, followed by an ongoing talent development plan tailored to individual needs and aspirations.

In particular, our apprentice programme, with the capacity to support over 500 new practitioners each year, not only benefits Bright Horizons and our people, but also the broader early years sector. We invest in our colleagues’ professional development through continuous learning opportunities and offer a clear career path that allows everyone to expand their skills, take on new challenges, and achieve their goals.”

One of the more unique initiatives started by Bright Horizons in 2023 was using performance reviews to ask unqualified colleagues if they would be interested in completing an apprenticeship. The Professional Development Team received 1,100 responses saying ‘yes’, and contacted each individual to discuss the apprenticeship opportunity and offer career coaching.

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"This is a great place to work"

Employees who agree with this statement:

Bright Horizons Family Solutions


UK average


Other standout practices by Bright Horizons include:

  • Diversifying their trainings offered to include a Level 2 Chef Academy Apprenticeship for 20 of the company’s chefs, supported by a gifted levy from Pret-a-Manger;
  • Making training accessible to all, through various means such as narration, text-to-speech scripts, and design practices aimed at neurodiverse learners;
  • Providing "Bright Bursts" short, highly-interactive training modules offering condensed learning support relevant to the everyday challenges faced by leaders and managers.

Janine Leightley, HR Director at Bright Horizons said:

“Our objective is to lead the sector in retaining exceptional talent and provide a colleague experience that positively impacts our service to children, parents, and clients through things such as rewards and recognition, as well as the wellbeing of each unique individual that works at Bright Horizons.

“We have significantly transformed our approach to sector-leading professional development and training, ensuring comprehensive support for our colleagues through diverse learning methods. We utilise classroom sessions, online courses, and e-learning resources, and have external approval from respected organisations like the CPD Certification Service and ILM Assured Coaching.

We first had our Fundamentals of Coaching course assured by the ILM in January 2020, and have since had three more programmes assured, including The Progression of Coaching Skills, The Establishment of Coaching Skills' and last year The Leaders’ Talent Programme.”

LD Report

2. Education & training employees need work-life balance to be achievable, not just aspirational.

When people have little to no time for their personal pursuits (or even just to rest) the inevitable is a burnt-out, disengaged workforce, which negatively impacts the individual’s wellbeing, the quality of their performance, overall job satisfaction, ultimately leading to higher rates of voluntary employee turnover.

A study published by LinkedIn found that overwhelming workload and “constant pressure to meet educational standards, coupled with administrative tasks, lesson planning, and extracurricular responsibilities” to be the primary triggers for teacher departures.

Bright Horizons has successfully embedded employee wellbeing throughout their workplace culture. 

Currently, 42% of Bright Horizons employees enjoy flexible work arrangements, with 5% opting for term time-only schedules. To ensure the success of these flexible teams, managers undergo training designed to effectively manage such arrangements, and receive central support for this purpose.

A noteworthy 15% of senior managers also embrace flexible working, with two board members setting an inspiring example by working part-time, debunking any notion that part-time work hinders career progression.

As one employee shared with us in their survey:

"I currently work part-time, sharing a role, dedicating 2.5 days per week. This flexibility has been vital in balancing my family commitments, enabling my children to engage in extracurricular activities while allowing me to support elderly relatives. Meanwhile, I've maintained my income and progressed in my career."

Additionally, Bright Horizons has also recently introduced a new Colleague Assistance Programme called Jive Health, which enables access to high-quality counselling and advice across a range of topics, including bereavement, divorce, stress, anxiety, suicide, and depression. There are no restrictions on the number of sessions and the service is available to all colleagues.

|  Related: How Education & Training Organisations Use Employee Feedback to Create Great Cultures


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3. Education & training employees stay longer when they feel they receive fair pay and reward

Bright Horizons has invested heavily in offering the most competitive Early Years salaries in the UK, to reward, recognise, and retain their practitioners, as well as to support their talent pipeline during a period of unprecedented recruitment challenges in the sector.

This investment, along with a collaborative approach to recruitment, directly contributed to a 10% reduction in voluntary turnover at Bright Horizons, and has led the charge for better pay in the sector, paying everyone above the Voluntary Living Wage.

Additionally, through Bright Horizons' Colleague Support Fund, employees can apply for grants of up to £500 for help with unexpected temporary financial crisis – such as if a boiler breaks down or a dishwasher goes bust, colleagues can apply to the fund for help.

Their Advance Access to Wages scheme allows all flexible employees to access their earned salary at any point during the month, aiding budgeting and reducing reliance on high-interest short-term loans. And their debt consolidation loans support colleagues in managing their debts through a single monthly payment via payroll. The company also facilitated savings directly from their pay cheque to promote long-term financial goals.


Elevate your employee experience. 

As one of the top drivers of engagement for 77% of companies we survey, fun is a big deal. Read our guide on how to embed fun into your employees' day-to-day work experience.  

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About Bright Horizons Family Solutions

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