Nine ways that learning and development can support retention in social care

Increasing workforce capacity and supporting workforce capabilities are two of the strategic priorities set out in Skills for Care’s recently released three-year strategy: https://strategy.skillsforcare.org.uk/

Tying into both these priorities, is the importance of not only recruiting but retaining the right people to work in social care. That’s why Skills for Care’s #RetainToGain activity is shining a spotlight on our retention resources.

In a previous Skills for Care survey[i], they found that 94% of social care employers had seen a positive impact on retention through investing in learning and development.

Here we look at nine reasons why providing learning and development opportunities is key to supporting retention.

1) Makes staff feel valued

A key reason why investing in learning supports retention is because providing development opportunities to your staff makes them feel more valued in their role, as you’re demonstrating a commitment to investing in them.

Knowing that you’re a valued member of the team is really important for motivation and creating job satisfaction, and of course job satisfaction is vital to whether staff decide to stay in a role.

2) Allows employees to progress

By offering continuing professional development, you can support your staff in progressing in their career – perhaps taking on more responsibility, moving into a managerial role, or stepping into a more specialist area of work. This means that your staff can continue to grow with the organisation and follow their career journey within your team, rather than moving elsewhere.

Skills for Care’s ‘Digital learning for managers’ modules are a great resource for people progressing into a managerial role: https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/Leadership-management/developing-leaders-and-managers/manager-induction-standards/Digital-learning-for-managers.aspx

3) Adds variety to the everyday work

Offering a range of training and learning opportunities adds variety to your team’s tasks. Not only will they be incorporating training into their schedules, but the skills that are learned can be utilised to bring variation to their role.

Learning how to use new tools or processes can allow staff to change the way that they run some of their everyday tasks or even add new responsibilities into their role. Providing opportunities for staff to vary the way in which they work can keep their role interesting and so keep them invested in their job and your organisation.

4) Improves what you offer

By providing your staff with opportunities to increase their skills and knowledge, you’re ultimately bolstering the skillset of your team and the quality of the service you offer.

This means that your team will be better equipped to provide an improved level of care to those they support, and that ultimately the people who need support from your organisation will receive a better quality of care.

Not only does this benefit the people you support and you as an organisation, but it will also impact your staff and how they feel about working with you. The better your offering and the better care that your team are able to provide, the more proud your staff will feel to be a part of your organisation and feeling proud to work with you is an important asset in creating a loyal workforce.

5) Influences public perception of care

Offering learning and skills development across your team is not only beneficial to your organisation alone, but when done across the entire sector can have a hugely positive impact on the public perception of the workforce.

We know that the social care workforce is highly-skilled, and investing in continuing professional development for your workforce will increase the public perception of care as a skilled professional workforce which in turn will provide an important recognition to our workforce and increase retention across the whole sector.

6) Empowers employees

Developing your team not only brings new skills and knowledge, but it can also bring newfound confidence. Knowing that their skills are being invested in can make staff feel more empowered in their role which means they may be more likely to contribute to the organisation at a more strategic level.

Having this investment in your organisation and the opportunity to make their voice heard and shape your service, can play a huge part in making staff stay on-board.

7) Embeds values

Learning and development is a great way to continue to embed the values of the organisation among your team – for example providing regular training on new tools and technology if innovation is core to your values.

Providing ongoing training to staff keeps your team aligned with these values and the vision that your organisation is working towards. Being intrinsically linked to this fundamental core of what your organisation is doing means that staff are more likely to feel connected to your organisation and less likely to move elsewhere.

8) Promotes inclusion

Providing training and development opportunities plays a key role in supporting an inclusive workplace with equal opportunities for progression.

Some groups of people may be at a lesser advantage for career progression, and there are development opportunities available specifically designed to support progression among groups who may be at a disadvantage.

A 2020 survey from Skills for Care[ii] completed by people from diverse communities found that respondents stated progression to be very important to them.

One example of a development programme for people from diverse communities is Skills for Care’s ‘Moving up’ programme which is aimed at black, Asian and other leaders from a diverse background who want to take the next step in their learning and development.

Find out more: https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/Leadership-management/developing-leaders-and-managers/Moving-Up.aspx

9) Brings new people to the sector

Some learning initiatives, such as apprenticeships, actually introduce new people into the workforce. By bringing new employees into the sector through apprenticeships you can create a clear career pathway for them in your organisation, making them more likely to stay and grow their career with you.

Find out more about opportunities for learning and development, how to evaluate it, and unique cost-effective development ideas for your staff with the Skills for Care’s ‘Guide to developing your staff’: https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/developingstaff

Funding is available to support the learning and development of your staff including the Workforce Development Fund (WDF). Keep an eye on the information on  Skills for Care’s website to find out when applications are open: https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/wdf


[i] https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/Documents/Recruitment-and-retention/Secrets-of-success/Recruitment-and-retention-secrets-of-success-report.pdf

[ii] https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/About/Blog/Blog/Putting-Equality-Diversity-and-Inclusion-at-the-centre-of-our-work.aspx


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