KU’s inimitable record as an employer of choice is based on six pillars of success and underpinned by a strong values-based culture.

KU was recognised as an Employer of Choice in the 2021 Australian Business Awards for the sixth consecutive year; a record that stands unrivalled in the early childhood education sector.

The award is tribute to our achievements in maximising the full potential of our workforce through a high-performance culture enabled by established policies and practices that demonstrate effective employee recruitment, engagement and retention.

After becoming the first early education provider to win the award six years ago, and with more than 2,000 employees across 130 services, KU has firmly established itself as one of Australia’s leading early education employers.

Award submissions needed to demonstrate achievements across six pillars including: Organisational Culture; Leadership and Strategy; Employee Education, Training and Development; Employee Health, Safety and Satisfaction; Performance Management; and Recognition and Remuneration.

Entries are assessed through a rigorous and dynamic framework, enabling all participants to be benchmarked against world-class performance standards.

Key attributes of the Employer of Choice Framework define the characteristics of leading sector and industry workplaces that provide a stimulating and supportive environment. KU’s enviable record for workforce retention is a testament to that.

More than 32% of KU staff notched up a tenure of 10 years or more during 2021. Included in their number is CEO, Christine Legg, who celebrated 40 years with KU, having started as a teacher.

KU’s six pillars of success

Organisational culture

KU’s values are embedded into the culture and not only influence our work, but also the way staff work with each other and the broader community. There are six values in all: Childhood; Integrity and Relationships; Leadership; Innovation; Sustainability; and Diversity and Inclusion.

Through annual employee engagement surveys, the degree to which KU staff connect with these cultural values is measured. The 2021 survey reported an overall engagement rate of 92%, while the Employee Net Promoter Score was +72.4. The extent to which KU staff believe the KU values are “lived and breathed” remains consistently high at 95% positive responses.

Leadership and strategy

The KU values are modelled at Board and Executive level at every opportunity. This can be attested to by the breadth of engagement of a diverse workforce across many varied service models and programs, and the quality outcomes that KU delivers for children and families.

In 2021, KU created and formalised a leadership model in parallel to a strategic leadership plan that will be implemented over three years from 2022 to 2024.

Education, training and development

KU has developed a unique Professional Learning Program to build the skills, behaviour and expertise now and well into the future. Essential to this is the development of a business-wide high-performance culture, supported by individual and organisational learning and development that is closely tied to the KU values. This fosters strong employee engagement and better performance outcomes.

Health, safety and satisfaction

In order to ensure KU’s employment offer continues to lead the early education sector and reflect the organisation’s values, a three-year plan focused on holistic wellness is being rolled out.

KU is proud to support employee wellbeing through a comprehensive range of programs and benefits including discounted private health insurance, flexible work practices, paid domestic violence leave, along with counselling and crisis support through the Employee Access Program.

Performance management

Performance management at KU is a continuous process of appraisal, review and professional development, all designed to help identify employees’ strengths and determine clear career pathways. The introduction of me@KU, our bespoke human resource information system, has facilitated even stronger collaboration between employees and their direct managers.

Recognition and remuneration

KU’s conditions of employment include the highest rates of pay in sector for staff employed under two Enterprise Agreements – the KU Children’s Services Teachers Agreement and the KU Children’s Services Administrative Employees Agreement.

As a not-for-profit, KU works doubly hard to ensure the workforce know their commitment is appreciated. In addition to a number of health and wellbeing benefits, other rewards include Years of Service Awards, the Making the KU Difference Awards, an active staff referrals program and KU salary packaging options.