We know that recruitment and retention are two of the key challenges you face as a home care agency manager. High rates of staff turnover leave you short-staffed and can force you into repeated recruitment drives, which is costly, time-consuming, and often leads to bad hires.
In this article, we’ll look at the state of social care staff retention today and how you can create a staff retention plan to reduce staff turnover in your home care agency.
Birdie’s social care recruitment survey
We conducted a survey to find out whether Covid has impacted social care staffing and how care providers are managing staff retention.
Social care providers seem to have had varying experiences of staffing during covid. For 38.5% of the respondents, staff retention had improved during the pandemic, with 29% reporting that it had gotten worse. It’s possible that the general uncertainty caused by multiple lockdowns stopped people from looking for new jobs and that once things settle down, we’ll start to see more movement again.
Sadly, the stress of the pandemic has taken its toll on our employees. 63% of survey respondents identified carer burnout as the biggest concern for workforce planning right now. Exhaustion and disillusionment are likely to result in people leaving their jobs or even leaving the care sector entirely, which is a good reason to focus on improving staff retention sooner rather than later.
Let’s look at how to build a robust staff retention plan to help you hold on to your existing carers and new starters as we continue to recover from the pandemic.
1. Carer development and training
When staff numbers are tight, training is often the first thing to be cancelled. Although this solves the problem in the short term, it can exacerbate staffing problems in the long term, as carers lose faith that they’ll ever get to pursue their career goals. Finding ways to protect this training time is a crucial part of a good staff retention plan.
Access to ongoing career development and training opportunities means that your carers:
- feel well equipped and confident to do their job to a high standard
- maintain a high level of expertise and knowledge and reduce their risk of an adverse incident
- can deliver the very best evidence-based care to clients
- can progress in their carer.
And perhaps most important of all when it comes to retaining staff: they recognise that you value them enough to invest in their career development.
Employing suitable candidates at the recruitment stage is a key part of a successful staff retention plan. One of the most effective ways to find outstanding carers is with a referral scheme, which offers incentives to existing employees who refer suitable and reliable candidates for care jobs. Dedicated digital platforms, like the Care Friends app, take the hassle out of setting up and managing a referral scheme.
3. Workplace culture
Workplace culture describes the way people interact with one another and carry out their work, and it develops in every business, whether you plan for it or not.
Behaviours that can result in a negative workplace culture include bullying, a lack of strong leadership, and blaming and punishing people for mistakes. A toxic workplace culture can tear a team apart and lead to difficulty recruiting and retaining staff.
Your staff retention plan should honestly and thoroughly examine the culture of your home care agency. Are whistleblowers supported? Do staff speak kindly and respectfully to each other and clients? Do your carers enjoy coming to work?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, an anonymous staff survey can help you understand your employees’ feelings around workplace culture.
4. Strong leadership
A team must have strong and reliable leadership for all its members to thrive. If there is a divide between carers and management, it’s incredibly difficult to have a happy workforce that feels listened to and respected. New starters need guidance and support in their new role, and if this is lacking from the outset, the chance of retaining that member of staff decreases. Our social care retention survey found that over half of the care providers we surveyed have increased the appreciation and recognition from line managers to carers in a bid to retain staff.
5. Initiatives and incentives
Staff initiatives and incentives are effective ways to show your carers that you value their happiness and health. We know that the pandemic placed enormous strain on the whole care industry and that the experience might have left carers emotionally and physically drained.
There are various ways to show appreciation through initiatives and incentives, including:
- organising mental and physical wellbeing activities, perhaps a weekly session of yoga, mindfulness or meditation
- contributing money to a staff party or night out, so your team can let their hair down
- offering pay bonuses as a thank you for their ongoing dedication and hard work through the pandemic.
Acknowledging and rewarding your carers is an integral part of a good staff retention plan; it brings the team together to boost morale and helps employees feel appreciated and supported.
To help home care agencies build a solid recruitment and retention strategy, we’ve put together a free eBook: Fast track recruitment: How to recruit in a crisis. Download it here.
At Birdie, we want to help care agencies succeed in all areas of their business. In a recent survey we undertook, over 80% of those who responded told us that their greatest challenge as a home care agency was recruiting staff. We know that recruitment can be difficult so we've done the legwork for you. We've spoken with experts, compiled research and created useful articles, eBooks and webinars to help you. Explore this page to find the right resources to help you - from writing your job advert to implementing an onboarding process, we've got it covered. Explore our other content below:
Even on a good day, being a carer has its challenges. To make life easier for your team, make sure you use the right digital tools to streamline their day and ease their workload. Adopting digital processes, including record-keeping and eMAR, can eliminate the need for paper trails and help free up the carer’s time so they can deliver the outstanding care your clients deserve. Using digital systems in this way shows candidates that you value their time and do all you can to reduce workload where possible. Find out more about the digital tools that can help your business here.