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Factors and approaches known to improve recruitment and retention of adult care staff

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

As a manager in the adult care sector, your most important resource will be your staff. Therefore, it is important to understand approaches and factors known to improve the recruitment and retention of adult care staff. Approaches can include formal training routes, local recruitment drives and social media. You must also be aware of factors that can impact recruitment and retention and how to overcome potential challenges.

Staff retention

It is often more cost-effective to keep existing staff members than recruiting new ones, so staff retention should be a high priority in your resource management plan.

Staff turnover is a big challenge in the adult care sector with an estimated rate of 30.4% (The state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England, Skills for Care, 2020). Research performed with care workers in Devon suggests the main reasons for them leaving their role as too much responsibility (for the level of reward), lack of flexibility over working hours, lack of time for and between appointments, lack of guaranteed hours, and the cost of childcare (Recruitment and Retention Issues in the Adult Care Workforce in Devon, 2018).

You may find it useful to find out if some of these factors apply to your own setting and, if so, identify ways to overcome them. For example, if employees feel that they have too much responsibility for the level of reward, you may look at ensuring they have more support from senior employees to carry out their role confidently. Although investigating the financial viability of an increased salary budget, the care sector as a whole is “inadequately funded” (Economic Affairs Committee, 2019), so this may not be possible.

A good way to find out the reasons for staff turnover in your own setting is to ensure that an exit interview is performed before employees leave and that they have the opportunity to express their views and possible grievances. You can then use this information to improve the job satisfaction of those that remain.

Staff recruitment

Staff recruitment can be costly in terms of both time and money, so ensuring that you employ the right people, and have a low staff turnover are essential for managing resources effectively. Skills for Care have produced a template to help managers calculate the cost of recruitment, which you could use to help you to forecast and plan the resources you will need.

Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter can help to keep people in your local community updated about job opportunities. As well as creating your own Facebook page, you can also join local community groups to advertise your offers. This could form part of a local recruitment drive that could also include open days, workshops and advertising in local newspapers. Open days, in particular, can be useful for both employer and employee to ensure that their values are aligned. Online job boards, such as Indeed can also be used to advertise vacancies.

As mentioned earlier, the social care sector is underfunded, so it will be difficult to offer potential employees a salary that is comparable with other occupations. Therefore, you will need to think of other ways to attract the right staff to your organisation.

Many people work in care because they want to give back to society and make a positive difference to the life of others, so remuneration is not their primary focus. Providing people with the opportunity to perform this role in order to achieve their own personal goals is very often all that is needed.

Providing formal training routes is another benefit of working in social care. Offering employees opportunities for personal development can attract people to the role. This can include the Care Certificate, Level 2-5 Diplomas as well as training in more specific areas (e.g. epilepsy, first aid, leadership etc.).

A formal career path can also make your job opportunity more enticing. For example, informing potential candidates that there are opportunities for career progression in line with their training, with either clinical or management pathways can help them to feel assured that they have a career rather than just a job.

The provision of training and career opportunities can also help you with succession planning. This ensures that there are always employees available that have sufficient knowledge and skills to fill important roles if a position becomes vacant.

The values and reputation of your organisation will also be a factor that will be considered by potential employees. People will prefer to work for an organisation that has core values that align with their own. The view that they receive about your organisation from previous or existing employees and service users may also have a bearing on their decision – if you develop a reputation as a fair employer that values their staff, you are more likely to be able to find good employees when you are recruiting.