Seven steps to supporting retention in social care

Jim Thomas, Head of Workforce Capacity and Transformation at Skills for Care

Skills for Care has launched its #RetainToGain spotlight, which is a series of activity focusing on providing retention support for the social care sector.

Retention is a hugely important issue in social care right now, as the sector must begin to grow and retain new and current talent to meet future demand.

Skills for Care data estimates that for the social care sector to grow proportionately to the number of people aged 65+, we’ll need almost half a million more jobs in social care by 2035. That’s why it’s vital that we work hard to retain our staff and new people entering the sector.

Jim Thomas, Head of Workforce Capacity and Transformation at Skills for Care, talks us through seven steps to help social care employers to retain staff.

  • Recruit for values

The first step in building a loyal team, is in making sure to recruit the right people to begin with. Using a values-based recruitment process can really help to make sure you hire people who are a right fit for social care and for your organisation, and as such are more likely to stay on-board for the long-haul.

Make sure to identify your organisational values – what are the key behaviours and beliefs which underpin your organisation’s mission and how you act? When recruiting new team members, put these values at the forefront of the process and hire people who match your values. You can assess this by asking situational questions throughout the application process.

By hiring someone who fits with your values they’ll naturally fit into the team, creating an immediate sense of belonging and loyalty.

  • Engage with the local community

Another element to consider at the first stage of recruitment, is the fact that most people who work in social care live close to where they work. So, when hiring for new team members it’s a good idea to understand and engage with the local community you’re drawing your workforce from.

Promote vacancies to the local community, as well as building a general awareness among the local community of the work that you do, and why your organisation is a rewarding place to work.

By encouraging people from your local community to join your team, you bring that sense of community into the workplace, with your team feeling proud to be part of an organisation who is esteemed among the local area and is supporting local people.

On a more practical level, having team members who are part of the local community allows for more flexible working conditions for them.

  • Ensure a comprehensive induction process

Another early step in supporting retention of staff, is ensuring to provide every member of your team with a comprehensive induction as soon as they step on-board.

This means making sure they get to meet other team members of all levels who they’ll be working with, having regular check-ins with their line manager and other colleagues to see how they’re settling in both personally and professionally, and ensuring they’re provided with all relevant induction training to get them up-and-running and feeling confident in their role right away. This can include The Care Certificate and the ‘Rapid induction training.’

 By making sure the induction process is as smooth and comprehensive as possible, you create a positive first impression for new recruits and quickly establish them as a part of the team, which contributes to increased loyalty in the future.

  • Invest in learning and development

In a previous study from Skills for Care, 94% of social care employers told us they had seen a positive impact on retention through investing in learning and development. Providing ongoing professional development for your team is key because it makes staff feel valued, which increases their motivation, dedication, and job satisfaction – all of which means they’re more likely to stay with your organisation for the long-term.

Investing in development opportunities for your staff also opens up different pathways for progression within your organisation and allows staff to upskill and take on more responsibility, which means they can continue to grow their career with you and will be less likely to look elsewhere for a new challenge.

  • Provide supportive supervision

There’s an age old saying that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. Having a supportive leadership team is vital in retaining your staff.

This means having managers who are trustworthy; open and honest; supportive and available to their teams, and can communicate effectively. Regular supervision between managers and their teams allows them to acknowledge achievements, address any issues, and identify learning opportunities.

As well as top-down supervision, also utilise peer supervision with a buddy system. This can provide the chance to learn new skills, a more informal opportunity to discuss any concerns, and create stronger working relations and a team bond.

  • Create a positive workplace culture

One of the most important aspects of keeping staff on-board is in creating a good place to work.

This can relate back to your organisational values. Knowing what values underpin the work you do, embedding these within your team, and hiring people who match with these values can create a positive workplace culture which everyone feels invested in and supported by.

Investing in staff wellbeing, especially in these particularly challenging times, is also crucial. At Skills for Care we have a range of our own resources to support wellbeing, as well as useful resources from other sources, all of which can be found in our ‘Wellbeing resource finder.’

  • Invest in yourself too

 As well as looking after your team, make sure to look after yourself too.

Make sure to take time out from work to reset and bring your best self to your organisation. Look after your own wellbeing as you would your staff’s, and make sure to continue to invest in your own professional development too, so you can keep developing your organisation and inspiring your staff.

Find more recruitment tips, information, and resources with Skills for Care’s #RetainToGain spotlight: skillsforcare.org.uk/RetainToGain



Edel Harris





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