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Care Managers Show


28 May 2024

Guest blog: Why we can’t recruit our way out of a retention crisis

Guest blog: Why we can’t recruit our way out of a retention crisis
Oonagh Smyth, CEO of Skills for Care, discusses why it’s important to retain the best staff and the factors that impact retention within the care sector.

Retention is an ever-present topic within social care. We often hear that social care has a ‘leaky bucket’ – employers are trying to fill positions while losing existing staff at a rate that makes it difficult to maintain a confident and effective team.

While attracting new staff is critical if we want to continue meeting the needs of those being supported, we must also focus on keeping the staff who are already delivering excellent care. Put simply, we can’t recruit our way out of a retention crisis.

There are many benefits to be gained by investing in workforce retention – it supports continuity of care for people who draw on services, staff wellbeing, time and cost savings, and positive CQC ratings.

Having the right number of people working in social care means that teams are less stretched and more able to focus on delivering the highest standard of care, which typically means organisations perform better at CQC assessment.

That’s why our #KeepTheRightPeople campaign at Skills for Care is focusing on highlighting the issues that most affect retention, and giving social care employers tools, resources and insights they can use to support them in becoming a workplace of happy and loyal staff.

Our latest ‘State of the adult social care sector and workforce’ report highlighted five factors that led to higher staff retention:

  • being paid more than minimum wage
  • not being on a zero-hour contract
  • being able to work full-time
  • access to training opportunities
  • having a relevant qualification

Where all five of these factors applied, we found that staff were more than twice as likely to remain within their role – a 20.6% turnover rate vs 48.7% for those where none of the factors applied.

Similarly, when we asked providers with turnover rates below 10% what they attributed their success to, we found that they engaged in several common activities:

  • celebrated their staff’s achievements
  • offered learning and development opportunities
  • embedded the values of their organisation

So adding these things together, we can conclude that three of the most impactful things employers can think about to support retention are:

  • quality of role (pay and terms and conditions)
  • learning and development
  • culture and leadership

Workplace culture is defined by the attitudes, values, norms and behaviours of the people within it. Providers with a culture that is inclusive, supportive and communicative tend to have more satisfied staff and better retention rates. Our positive culture toolkit provides lots of useful information for those looking to improve their workplace culture.

Career progress is another crucial consideration for all members of staff. When employees see that their employer is invested in their professional growth, they are more likely to remain with the organisation. We know from our own data that qualified staff have an average turnover rate of 26.5%, whereas staff with no qualifications have a turnover rate of 37%. Our workforce development hub is an excellent resource for those looking to develop their workforce.

Over the course of this campaign, we’ll be focusing on providing tools, insights and stories from across the sector to support employers in keeping their staff by tackling the big retention issues.

We hope you can join us in helping employers to #KeepTheRightPeople, and that the information and support provided through this campaign will be beneficial to you.




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