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Five ways to retain a strong and happy workforce

Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt, CEO, Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society

The UK care sector is massively understaffed. According to a recent Skills for Care report,[1] there were approximately 1.16 million full-time jobs available in the industry between 2019-2020. Due to an ageing population this figure has been on the rise and since 2012-2013 it has increased significantly by nine per cent.

Maritime charity and care home, The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, specialises in providing tailored care to retired seafarers and their dependents and is renowned for its continued investment in supporting its 100-strong long-serving team. The Society’s CEO, Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt, has been with the Society for 14 years and shares five of his personal beliefs for retaining a strong and happy workforce, although none will be a surprise as at heart it is simply good leadership and management.

  1. Invest in learning and development

Having a team that is equipped with the necessary qualifications and skills not only increases efficiency but improves morale and empowers staff in their roles and in their career development. At the Royal Alfred, we have an in-house trainer who facilitates learning and provides around-the-clock training for all of our staff. This allows everyone to have consistent and tailored training onsite and ensures all staff are working to the same standards and demonstrating to employees that they are part of a supportive workplace.

  1. Create a ‘family’ environment

A 2019 study by Oxford University highlighted that a happy workforce is 13 per cent more productive[2], showing that staff satisfaction not only benefits the individuals but in fact the whole team and wider business. It is important that everyone feels part of a team and that their work is recognised, one way The Society does this is by operating an ‘open door’ policy, with staff encouraged to share ideas or chat through issues with senior staff members whenever they feel the need to. This encourages close working and stronger relationships within the home. We also hold events around the social calendar for both residents and staff at the home including an annual Open Day, summer family fundraising days, days out and other activities, all of which help contribute to a happy and inclusive workplace.

  1. Champion and reward long serving staff

Long-service recognition is important for employers as it is an opportunity to show employees how appreciated and valued they are, and underlines the strength of an employer if staff are happy to stay with the same organisation for long periods of time. We’re proud to say that each year at the Society we host Long Service Awards celebrating those who mark their ten-year or more anniversaries with us. In total, our workforce has dedicated more than 500 years’ service to the home and its residents. With such an abundance of care sector jobs available, it’s vital that care homes offer an attractive workplace, as a consistent, familiar workforce is integral to upkeeping high levels of care.

  1. Support staff’s wellbeing and mental health

A recent report from Mind.org highlighted that 60 per cent of adults have said their mental health deteriorated during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown[3].We recognise the significance of this and earlier this year, we invested in new training (a Level 2 Certificate in Awareness of Mental Health) for senior members of the team to help them identify mental health issues within the workforce. Creating a supportive working environment is crucial for staff to feel safe and cared for and can ultimately lead to better staff retention rates.

  1. Standardise pay and ensure benefits are competitive

In a competitive job market, it is important that staff feel fulfilled in their role and that they are being paid correctly for their hard work and time. We are Living Wage accredited here at the Society which means we pay the real Living Wage which is higher than the national minimum wage. According to LivingWage.org.uk, 75 per cent of those that implement the scheme say it has increased motivation and retention rates for employees.[4]

The maths is simple when it comes to retaining staff and it’s a tried and tested method here at the Royal Alfred – invest in your staff development, create a welcoming environment, reward long service and support staff wellbeing, and you are bound to see a happy workforce that will deliver long-lasting benefits to your home, its residents and the wider team.

[1] Skills for Care – The size and structure of the adult social care sector and workforce in England
[2] Oxford University – Happy workers are 13% more productive
[3] Mind.org – The mental health emergency
[4] LivingWage.org.uk – The Living Wage is good for business

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