Retaining excellence: Proactive tips for staff retention in the care sector

The high staff turnover in our industry is a major challenge for organisations. Candidates are curious about the benefits, opportunities, career advancement, treatment of staff, company values, and moral and ethical values associated with the role. Pay rates have become an even more pressing issue due to the rising cost of living. However, we understand that salary is not the only factor to consider. There is a real focus on retaining exceptional talent instead of losing them to other organisations. The increasing number of unfilled positions due to staff turnover limits services, which has a significant impact on those in need.

So just why are people leaving our sector?

According to a recent report by Skills for Care, it is estimated that the adult social care sector experienced a turnover rate of 28.3% in 2022/23, resulting in approximately 390,000 individuals leaving their positions within the previous 12 months. However, it is worth noting that a significant number of these individuals remain within the sector, as 59% of recruitment comes from within adult social care, while 41% comes from outside of the sector. It is important to highlight that turnover rates vary depending on the specific sector, service and job role. For instance, the turnover rate at the care worker level was estimated to be closer to 35.6%.

Skills for Care also recently carried out a survey on the adult sector and found that the main reasons for staff leaving were:

  • 30% of survey participants cited poor workplace culture or communication as the main reason for leaving, while 20% mentioned burnout or stress, and 16% reported low pay as the cause of their departure.
  • Younger workers between 16 and 44 were particularly likely to leave due to poor workplace culture or communication.
  • Additionally, 23% expressed their intention to leave within the next couple of years, while 53% had no plans to leave.
  • Among those considering leaving, 25% attributed their decision to inadequate pay. Some individuals expressed concerns about the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, but many believed current pay rates were reasonable for their specific role.

In the realm of children’s services, the Institute of Government has reported that local authorities are grappling with significant shortages in their workforce. The sector is currently experiencing its highest turnover rate since 2013, with the added challenge of a decade-long decline in the overall number of children’s social workers, despite the increasing demand for their services. These recruitment and retention difficulties have only worsened the sector’s reliance on agency staff.

Additionally, referrals to children’s services have returned to pre-pandemic levels, while the number of children in care is still increasing. According to the Ofsted Main Findings report on Children’s Social Care England 2023, as of 31 March 2023, there has been a 9% increase in the number of children’s homes (2,880) and a 7% increase in available spots (10,818) compared to 31 March 2022. The Northwest continues to account for a quarter of all children’s homes and nearly a quarter of available spots.

To improve staff retention, organisations should understand what workers want today and attract quality workers with the right attitude, behaviours and skills. Tailor recruitment campaigns to match market demands. The crowded job market overwhelms candidates, resulting in a disconnect between applications and attraction efforts. Promoting roles effectively will generate interest from local candidate communities and provide a quick and seamless candidate journey.

Motivators to stay

In the Skills for Care survey, workers were asked about their motivators to stay. These were the main findings:

  • The most common motivation for staying in their current job was similar to why they initially joined the sector – they found fulfilment in working with their residents and clients (69%).
  • Another significant factor in their decision to stay was the positive relationships they had with their colleagues (65%). Interestingly, younger workers (aged 16-24) were more likely to prioritise this aspect compared to their older counterparts (aged 25-44 and 45-64).
  • Surprisingly, only a fifth of the respondents (21%) stated that they were staying in their current jobs because they were satisfied with their pay.

Where do leavers go?

  • Over half of the respondents (52%) intending to leave the sector said they planned to find work in a different sector.
  • A third (34%) intended to remain in the care sector.
  • Almost half (47%) of those looking to move to another sector were considering a job in the NHS.

This valuable feedback helps organisations understand what is important to their workforce, increasing the success rate of keeping staff turnover low. It is now more important than ever to look after the current workforce. This approach attracts new talent, creates a motivated workforce, reduces time and money, and ensures continuity of care for service users.

Our top tips to minimise staff turnover:

  1. Maximise staff retention by attracting high-quality workers with the right attitude, behaviours and skills.
  2. Tailor recruitment campaigns to meet market demands and understand what the local candidate market is looking for.
  3. Consider what your competitors are offering in terms of benefits and ensure your pay rates are competitive.
  4. Evaluate how your organisation is viewed as an employer in the local market and explore different ways to promote your company.
  5. Create a thriving and motivating working environment.
  6. Offer progression opportunities, additional training and development.

If you need more information or support, please feel free to contact us at any time. We would be happy to share our findings and local market intelligence with you.