One of the biggest expenses in any business is its staff, with a particular pinch point being the recruitment of new staff, especially when its driven by a high turnover rate. The care industry is no exception, with the recent Care Association Alliance Social Work Study revealing that the average turnover rate for the care sector is 27% – amongst the highest of any industry.
Last year’s recruitment and retention in adult social care services report from the Social Care Workforce Research Unit concluded that ‘longstanding difficulties in recruitment and retention had worsened because of the growing gap between overall levels of demand for social care and expenditure’. It’s estimated that there are around 110,000 care support worker vacancies at any one time.
In our recent blog ‘Tackling the turnover of staff in home care‘, we discussed some of the key reasons behind this high turnover, with low pay, long hours and paperwork all contributing factors. Now we want to look in more detail at how much the turnover problem actually costs your care business.
The cost implications of high staff turnover
The recruitment of permanent caring staff is an expensive business, with several costs involved. Skills for Care breaks this down into 7 main areas:
- Cover for the exiting staff
- Preparing a job description and planning the recruitment process
- Shortlisting and interviews
- Checks and set-up
- Induction and training
- Probation period, including the agency’s reduced capacity whilst a new person gets up to speed
In total, Skills for Care estimates that the average total cost for recruiting one new care worker is over £3500. A big bill for a home care agency if its running at the average rate of turnover.
For a short-term fix, some home care businesses use agency staff as a quick and easy way to plug the gap in staffing shortages. However the cost of hiring agency staff typically costs 100% more than employing regular staff, meaning that a high turnover can lead to unsustainable staffing costs in the long-term.
Of course, there is also the hidden cost of the impact on continuity of care for a client who’s been on the receiving end of a high staff turnover. Having to constantly get used to new carers can be unsettling and disruptive, and could cause them to reconsider the package of care they receive.
Solving the staff turnover conundrum
A key way of retaining staff is to focus on employee satisfaction and morale. Creating a positive working culture where staff feel supported and valued can be as critical as rates of pay. Conducting employee satisfaction surveys can help with fully understanding what makes your staff happy and what causes dissatisfaction.
Some of the key issues that might come up are well documented; overwork, long hours and a high burden of admin are some of the common reasons cited by care support workers leaving their roles. Introducing new technology can be one of the ways of tackling these issues; automating processes and harnessing the power of digital information can free up carers’ time to do what they do best – care.
Using the right advertising channels, recruiting people who are the right “fit” and being honest about the realities of the job were also cited as important factors by care organisations with the lowest turnover rates1 and are particularly effective for preventing turnover amongst new recruits, which is a growing trend.
Finally, developing the talent and skills you already have amongst your staff, through both the induction process and structured ongoing supervision, can make a tangible difference to your workforce retention rates. And this is another area where a software solution can be helpful. Many care management systems, such as Unique IQ’s IQ:careplanner, have in-built records management functions, where qualifications, training opportunities and supervision can be recorded and actively managed – helping you make the most of your staff, and for your staff to get the most out of their roles.