Care providers face an increasing challenge with sourcing and retaining staff to meet the growing demand for care services. In this article, Neil Eastwood shares his five favourite tips for recruitment and retention.
The labour market for frontline care staff is rapidly changing, and one of the major risks facing social care employers is the inability to respond to these changes quickly enough.
It wasn’t long ago that the care sector could pick and choose from large volumes of applicants, but those days are long gone. In the current market, we must work harder to attract new staff, including those who had previously never considered a paid care role. At the same time, we must ensure we take steps to prevent the unnecessary loss of existing workers.
Given that Registered Managers already have a full workload and little time to dedicate to researching the best approaches, here are five recommendations for improving both recruitment and retention:
1. Ensure you have a culture that people want to work for
Too often office staff and supervisors can treat their frontline colleagues with a lack of respect. Prospective employees can be dealt with brusquely or go for days without any communication. All employees must understand the value of care workers and work to create a family-like and supportive environment. Without this, sourcing and retaining staff will be incredibly hard.
Tip: If your support team could benefit from a culture change, consider arranging conflict resolution and communication skills training. Supporting team leaders to handle care staff respectfully has delivered huge retention improvements.
2. Community outreach is essential. Get out of the office!
Many of your best future staff could be sourced from seeking out high-potential groups in the community. These people are unaware of how suitable they are for a career in care – and how rewarding it would be for them unless you go and tell them.
Tip: Get your existing employees looking on your behalf and re-launch your employee referral scheme. Also, don’t forget to recontact past employees you miss and see if they would consider returning.
3. Make sure someone in your organisation wakes up every day focused on recruitment
A successful social care recruitment operation relies on multiple channels, not just Internet job board advertising. Often the best candidates have to be found in the community, which requires coordination and planning. Sustaining the flow of quality applicants cannot be undertaken as an afterthought or when a busy Registered Manager can spare time. The best care providers worldwide assign someone to own and oversee the process.
Tip: Some of the best recruiters are current or past care staff. They understand the job and can sell the role with conviction.
4. Look beyond job experience
There are simply not enough trained and experienced care staff in circulation to satisfy the recruitment needs of today, let alone the next ten years. Many of the best, most suitable qualified care workers are committed to their clients and loyal to their existing company. Therefore, providers must look beyond work experience and qualifications and delve into values, personality, and attitudes.
Tip: Concentrate on the applicant’s motivation to work in care and their values. Look for past family care experience and evidence of emotional maturity. You can find high potential applicants in all sorts of places in the community, such as informal carer groups, volunteers or those who worship a faith.
5. It’s not just about the money, it’s about feeling valued
Good care workers are connected emotionally to their job and the service they provide. If staff feel appreciated at work, they will be more likely to stay. For instance, when a carer has covered a shift or gone beyond their duty, verbal appreciation alongside written appreciation in the form of a letter to their home will go a long way in boosting staff retention.
Tip: Task supervisors to find a member of frontline staff doing something well and praise them publicly every day. This is a very powerful mindset change.
There are certainly enough caring and compassionate people to meet the demands of our ageing population. The trick is to reach out to the community to make them aware of the value of a paid care role, make them feel welcome and then enable them to do what they love.
Neil Eastwood is the Founder and CEO of Care Friends, the employee referral app for social care and an international speaker on care worker recruitment and retention.