Staff Retention as Important as Recruitment

As the nationwide crisis in nurse retention continues, a new report from the International Centre on Nurse Migration has highlighted the importance of focussing on staff retention as well as recruitment.

The report’s author, Professor James Buchan, of the International Council of Nurses, warned that too often organisations’ approach to shortages is to place increased emphasis on recruitment but that paying attention to the retention of existing skilled staff should be an essential part of any staffing strategy. The report highlights how failure to retain staff can lead to a reduction in continuity of care and productivity, as well as increased costs related to the need to recruit new staff. The impact on remaining staff was also seen as significant with an increase in workload and stress often being associated with high staff turnover.

Read on to find out more about how to retain your staff and minimise the disruption and costs caused by high staff turnover.

Staff Retention

Staff turnover is a metric regularly used as a measure of the quality of a care service and for good reason. Any service experiencing high turnover will struggle to provide a high quality of care and maintain good levels of staff morale. Furthermore, the increased recruitment costs involved will impact on investment in other areas, diverting funds from measures which could actually improve care.  The staff turnover statistics that your service submits to the National Minimum Data Set are also used by the CQC prior to inspection and will be an important indicator of what an inspector should expect on visiting your service.

4 Measures to Improve Staff Retention

  1. Staff engagement: It may seem obvious, but effectively engaging with staff, both as individuals and groups is the single most successful measure you can take to improve retention. You may already hold regular staff meetings and supervisions but unless you provide the opportunity for staff to discuss how they feel about their work AND act on this, you are likely to miss the signs that lead to staff leaving your organisation. 
  1. Study your competitors: It’s likely that at least some of your staff will already be researching what competing employers have got to offer, so shouldn’t you be doing the same? Even loyal staff can be tempted away by employers offering something that they can’t access in their current job and, despite what you may think, this isn’t always about pay. Factors such as better training, promotion prospects, family-friendly hours or even discount schemes can all add up to an employee deciding that the grass is greener elsewhere. Do your own research and try to stay one step ahead of your competitors rather than risk losing experienced staff. 
  1. Use exit data: Exit interviews or, at the very least, exit questionnaires should be a mandatory part of your HR procedures. Inevitably, some staff will move on from your organisation but understanding why this has happened is essential to reducing the likelihood of other staff leaving for the same reason. 
  1. Offer flexible working: Changes in personal circumstances, particularly for staff with family or caring responsibilities is one of the most frequently stated reasons for leaving. Offering flexible working, such as ‘bank’ contracts, the opportunity to temporarily reduce hours, or shift patterns which accommodate the care of children or dependent relatives can all help encourage staff to remain in employment, rather than feel they have no option but to leave.

Are you responsible for managing and retaining care workers? Make sure you read Care Quality Matters – essential advice, resources, tools and checklists for Registered Managers.

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