Recruitment and staff retention in social care have been a challenge since the start of the pandemic. We saw a number of our teams and colleagues leave due to the fear of working with others whilst at the height of the pandemic, more leave when the government said they would mandate the vaccine and, in recent times, others leaving to work in sectors that are paying more than the social care industry.
I do not blame these staff for leaving, but we do need to learn from these experiences that our staff can and will leave if they feel pushed into a corner or need to earn more money to pay their bills.
The best way to learn is to look at how we can retain our current workforce. In this week’s blog post, I’ll be sharing my top 10 tips to improving your staff retention rate.
1. Look at your exit interviews
Firstly, if you are not conducting exit interviews, you need to implement these. It is so important to find out why staff do not want to stay so you can adapt to prevent this from happening in the future.
Exit interviews are crucial, but make sure you ask staff to complete them whilst they are in their notice period as people will be less likely to complete it after they have left.
2. Show your appreciation
There is nothing worse than working somewhere where you feel under appreciated or undervalued. Make sure you show your teams that you appreciate them. A simple thank you or highlighting their achievements in front of colleagues can go a long way.
One thing I find that works really well are notes of appreciation. As a registered manager, I would send these to my team’s home address with a specific example of how they have touched someone’s life or the impact their actions had – especially for senior staff who have to be on-call or have a role that impacts family time. These notes make your staff feel valued and shows their families how important they are to the organisation.
3. Provide training and opportunities for growth
To further improve staff retention, ensure you offer the option for people to enhance their skills and knowledge through things like qualifications, training, and shadowing opportunities. If you can keep people engaged and learning through the role, you are more likely to retain them. This is because staff will see that you are invested in them.
Having a clear career pathway can really help staff visualise the route within the organisation that they want to take, and with your support in providing staff training and opportunities for personal development, they will be able to achieve these professional goals.
4. Provide flexibility
I wrote an article earlier this year about whether flexible working is possible in social care. I have seen, over the years, so many good care workers leave due to the shift patterns we offer. As a sector, we have gotten better at offering flexible working opportunities, but we have so much further to go.
Take into account your team’s family life and consider the hours for each role. You can make the role more attractive with things like rotas in advance and rotas that offer a good work/life balance.
5. Speak to your team
This seems obvious, but not always something we do – possibly out of fear we cannot meet expectations, or that our hands are tied. But without speaking to your staff, how will you ever know?
Our staff know we can’t give them everything, but being given the opportunities to have their voices heard will go a long way. Make sure you use the feedback though, or this will cause them to feel unheard and unmotivated.
If there are ideas that you can implement, make sure you do, and then feed back to the team where the idea came from. If there are things you cannot meet, speak to the person who suggested it and explain why, but thank them for thinking of something. You are not saying no forever, just at that moment in time.
6. Review the perks and benefits that staff receive
You may not be able to pay the most amount of money, but if you can offer some workplace perks and benefits, you are more likely to retain people.
I would first speak to your team about what you currently offer, and what they would like to see remain or be implemented, then use that feedback to guide your new offerings and think outside the box. To help you get started, here are some suggestions:
- Flexible working (as discussed above)
- Internal promotions
- Sick pay
- Enhanced annual leave
- Wellbeing and wellness benefits (mental health, physical health)
- Health insurance plans
- ‘Duvet Days’ – paid time for staff to have the day off to re-energise and come back with more energy
- Free lunch or dinner (for care home staff)
- Enhanced mileage payments
- Childcare vouchers
- Staff team building/away days
7. Reduce burnout
We know that many health and social care staff leave due to burnout. I have been in this position and, I dare say, many of you reading this have been, too.
We work a lot and before you know it, you have no energy, become unwell and getting back to any kind of baseline feels impossible. We all have staff who pick up overtime and extra shifts, and we risk their health by relying on them all the time.
Make sure your team’s workloads are not too heavy, that people are taking their breaks and annual leave, and that people are having regular supervision and feel supported.
8. Improve the workplace culture
Developing and improving your overall company culture will lead to better employee engagement and, in turn, reduce turnover.
You need to ensure you are offering clear communication, consistent management and being transparent. This will all help prevent closed cultures in your care service.
9. Annual performance reviews
We all do supervisions, because how many of us do annual performance reviews. These reviews are an essential part of managing and leading successful teams.
To ensure a successful process you need to ensure you:
- Set clear goals and objectives
- Ensure you have structures and tools in place to evaluate and review
- Review and evaluate on a regular basis
- Identify next steps
- Celebrate successes
10. Communicate clearly
Communication is crucial. Establishing effective communication doesn’t have to be difficult, and the key is to adapt it to the person and make it meaningful.
Maintaining a safe and effective service heavily relies on retaining our employees. Achieving this goal involves implementing a variety of employee retention tactics, and I hope this article helps you take that step in the right direction.