Top five tips to positive on-boarding in the care sector

Statistics by Skills for Care estimate that, every year, 390,000 people leave their jobs in social care, which equates to 1,000 per day. This means there are approximately 110,000 unfilled vacancies at any one time.

Recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce, made up of people with compatible values, can help care home organisations deliver a high quality and consistent level of care and support, says Will Shepherd, CEO of recruitment firm Cohesion in The HR Director. We know the care sector is different from primary care, but the challenges are similar – meaning there are some key takeaways for practices here

This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in The HR Director.

A recent survey of care organisations on recruitment and retention revealed that over half (55%) of respondents found retaining staff to be a bigger challenge than recruiting. Here are five steps to improving retention.

Over half (55%) of respondents found retaining staff to be a bigger challenge than recruiting.

Provide role clarity – Candidates want to know the detail and, if you fail to tell them up front, things can go wrong down the line. Include daily duties of the role, information about the service, the team and the benefits and how to apply.  It is important to highlight how the employee can make a positive difference – in the advert and throughout the recruitment process – because research tells us this is the most important reason candidates will choose to apply.

Induction and training – When a new recruit starts working for a care home the on-boarding process is a crucial step in making them want to stay with an organisation long-term. Delivering a good induction scheme with associated training, has proven to be better than spreading training out over the first few months. Our research found that 72% of candidates surveyed at 12 weeks into their new role said that, ‘opportunities to develop in and beyond their current role’ was important to them.  Our research also found that 96% of all new starters who had been made to feel welcome by their manager described themselves as either ‘happy’ or ‘very happy’ in their role.

It’s important to focus on other areas apart from CQC compliance training.  Make it exciting by selling your business, the team and the organisation’s culture. When a new member of staff starts, shadowing and supernumerary shifts alongside existing members of staff, can have a huge impact on their confidence and enjoyment of the role.

Use social media – Social media is often used to attract people into a role during recruitment, but it is now also having a huge impact as an engagement tool in the retention process. However, our survey revealed that 65% of social care organisations did not use social media as part of their employee retention strategy.

Utilise personnel success stories across your social media channels, encouraging people to join the organisation’s community. Social media can also be used to encourage new starter recommendations; try to motivate, and if possible, reward staff for making candidate introductions and referrals. Consistency is key and maintaining a social media presence can, ultimately, have a huge impact.

Work-life balance – Our survey revealed that 40% of people who said they were ‘very unhappy’, and a further 32% who were ‘unhappy’, did not feel that the hours and shifts were suitable for their work-life balance or travel arrangements. The more flexible the working environment, the wider the audience of potential applicants you can attract. We are aware that this can sometimes be hard to achieve within a care home, but any flexibility that you can offer in terms of shift patterns and rotas is appreciated by staff. The rewards make it worth it!

Listening and acting on employee feedback – By the time a member of staff is taking part in an exit interview it is really too late to identify and solve any problems they may have faced during their period of employment! A ‘stay interview’, which takes place while an employee is still employed, provides a great opportunity to build a trusting relationship and is a chance to assess the degree of employee satisfaction and engagement. While you may not need to hold stay interviews with all employees, it’s especially important to hold them with key members of staff who might be considering a career change.

Be sure to listen to your employees, take notes and action their suggestions; if they don’t feel that anything is going to change, you won’t get honest feedback.

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