How to recruit and retain employees in the care sector

As the demand for care and support grows, so does the need to recruit and retain more workers to deliver high-quality care and support. According to the state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England from Skills for Care published in 2022:

  • Approximately 400,000 care workers left their job
  • There were around 165,000 vacant posts

This paints a stark picture of the care sector and highlights the struggles that providers face in recruiting and retaining the right kind of workers with the right kind of values. But it’s not all doom and gloom – by understanding your business needs and planning recruitment strategically – recruitment doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Here are some tips from other care providers to consider: 

  • Recruit people with the right values and behaviours, who are more likely to stay
  • understand your local area to inform business planning
  • use innovative strategies to attract candidates from the local community
  • offer quality training, positive working conditions, flexible working and competitive pay rates

How to plan a recruitment campaign

To get the best talent, you’ll need to convince prospective employees that your business is the right place for them to work. Employing a mixture of strategies such as using the right advertising channels, understanding and promoting a positive business culture, and creating clear and informative job descriptions is the key to success.

The right workplace culture

Workplace culture is the character and personality of your organisation made up of, your organisation’s leadership, values, traditions and beliefs, and the behaviours and attitudes of the people in it.

Positive workplace culture can be cultivated from the ground up and can start with simple things like ensuring there is a company-wide communication channel like Slack, recognising staff success through awards and recognition, or having a robust mental health programme to support employees.

Seeing potential: an open recruitment process

An open recruitment process removes any unfair barriers preventing the employment of people from all kinds of backgrounds. People from all kinds of backgrounds can have the right values to work in social care and bring a wealth of skills, experience, perspectives and ideas to your workforce.

Taking an open approach to your recruitment can help to:

  • recruit from a wider talent pool
  • attract a diverse range of candidates for your roles
  • Benefit the people who receive care and support

Values-based recruitment

Recruiting people for their values and behaviours helps attract people who know what it means to provide high-quality care and support.

Skills for Care recently asked employers that had a turnover rate below 10%, what contributed to their success.

Results included:

  • investing in learning and development (94%) 
  • embedding the values of the organisation (92%) 
  • celebrating the achievements of both the organisation and the individual (86%) 
  • involving colleagues in decision-making (81%)

They also conducted research to measure the impact of values-based recruitment.  This report found that:

  • 58% of staff recruited for values were better at developing the skills needed for their role 
  • 72% of staff recruited for values performed better than those recruited using traditional methods 
  • 62% of staff recruited for values had lower rates of sickness and absence
  • 3 in 4 employers reported that staff recruited for values exhibited better social care values than those recruited using traditional methods.

When conducting values-based recruitment, you should consider whether candidates:

  • have the behaviours and values you’re looking for
  • will fit with your organisational culture
  • have realistic expectations about what it’s like to work in care

Some roles do require specific qualifications, skills, knowledge and experience which should also be considered. You could use a simple pre-employment personality test to establish where prospective employees may fit in with existing workers, or tailor interview questions around your business values.

Advertising and job descriptions

As well as promoting vacancies through job boards, think about other strategies that could work for you. Employee referrals, posters in local community hubs, taster days and work placements, talks with local colleges and community leaders, or posts on social media groups could help open applications to those that may be underrepresented or unreached by more traditional recruitment methods.

Job descriptions should also be jargon-free; clearly outline what the job role will involve and promote the positive values and culture of the business. You may discuss qualifications but also think about examples of relevant experience that could be suitable if qualifications are not held.

How to retain employees

Recruitment is just the first step for care providers. Retaining care workers is where the real work tends to start. Here, we’ll look at some of the ways care providers can create a work environment that encourages people to stay.

A supportive induction 

The first few weeks in any role are particularly important to ensure new starters understand your culture, vision and values, and what’s expected of them. It’s important to provide a thorough induction, so that new recruits feel fully supported from day one.

The induction could include:

  • shadowing
  • mentoring
  • buddying
  • peer support
  • values-based learning
  • additional training around core skills and specific health conditions

Create a positive place to work

Workplace culture is often referred to as ‘the way we do things around here’. It’s made up of your organisation’s leadership, values, traditions, beliefs, and behaviours and attitudes of the people in it. It offers a sense of shared identity and influences what people think or do. How to cultivate culture:

  • have open channels of communication
  • ensure leaders and managers create a positive working environment 
  • carry out regular appraisals and supervision
  • manage staff performance is a positive way
  • support staff – with work and personal issues

Learning and development

Providing employees with the opportunity for personal or professional growth can contribute to staff retention.

This could include:

  • giving employees the opportunity to get new qualifications
  • developing leaders and managers 
  • showing what career development looks like

How technology can be used to aid the recruitment and retention of workers

For us, our care technology has always been about providing better outcomes for the client, and while processes and systems can get us halfway there, the most crucial aspect of care delivery is the people that go into people’s homes day in and day out -providing personal services that cannot be replicated by machines. 

That’s why we work alongside our care providers to develop digital solutions to help impact recruitment and retention. 

Whether it’s integrations with recruitment software to help track and manage human resources, digital records to support staff training plans and recognition, to partnerships with leading sector training providers to help develop personalised employee training packages – our software has what it takes to help you tackle recruitment and retention.

For more information about Unique IQ’s software for home care agencies, please get in touch.

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