A ground-breaking new study into successful recruitment and retention of workers in adult social care reveals quality training, positive working conditions, flexibility and competitive pay rates are key to finding and keeping staff who have the right values and behaviours to deliver quality care and support.
Skills for Care collected evidence from 140 adult social care organisations who have staff turnover rates of less than 10% to look at what they do to keep their staff after they have successfully recruited them.
The ‘Recruitment and retention in adult social care: secrets of success’ report found common themes amongst organisations with staff turnover rates well below the national average of 27.3%.
When recruiting staff they show a good understanding of local employment needs, are honest about the realities and rewards of the job, pay above the National Living Wage, and demonstrate that they have positive organisational cultures where people have the chance to develop their skills and knowledge.
When people come for interview these organisations placed a high emphasis on the candidate’s values and behaviours like kindness, compassion and reliability, life experiences, and a willingness to learn. They invite them in for taster sessions, involve people who need care and support and their families, friends or advocates in the recruitment process and use values based interviews to ensure a good fit.
They then invest in successful candidates by delivering quality inductions, accessing funding like the Workforce Development Fund to meet their learning and development needs, have mentoring schemes in place and create open and positive environments where everyone understands and embodies the organisation’s values.
They meet the challenge of keeping people by respecting and valuing their staff, paying above the local minimum pay rates, creating flexible work patterns and understanding staff have responsibilities outside of work that need to be factored in. The report also offers recommendations to help organisations drive down their staff turnover rates including the importance of using quality data like the National Minimum Data Set for Social Care to plan recruitment activities, the collective need to improve the image of the sector as a great place to work, the clear benefits of values based recruitment, investing in staff’s learning needs and a positive working culture that values and listens to staff.
Nearly 1000 individual employers also submitted evidence with almost three quarters of respondents saying they had some difficulty or did not find it easy to recruit personal assistants (PAs) to support them.
The most common tip to overcome this is to employ someone they already know like family members, a friend, neighbour or someone you have previously employed through an agency. The second most popular tip was to seek recommendations from others to give them some reassurance potential employees are right for the role. They felt they needed to be seen as good employers to encourage people to work for them as well as being very clear about their needs so they could find a PA best suited to what they wanted.
The study found 70% of individual employers establish that candidates had the right skills and experiences to meet their needs during the interview process, and 41% continued to have regular performances reviews. 17% send their PAs on training courses whilst others provide on the job training. Three quarters of employers reported that they had no problems retaining PAs, and did so by being good employers including maintaining open lines of communication, treating PAs with respect, being flexible, paying well and on time.
Skills for Care CEO Sharon Allen said: “This report is unique because for the first time we have taken a forensic look at what works rather than just things that don’t. We can share that knowledge with other organisations and individuals who also want to recruit the right people and then retain them so the people who use their services get consistently high quality support.
“The data we have collected from all the organisations and individuals who have so generously shared their hard won experiences means we can see the things they have in common and, most importantly, that most of what we have learnt can be implemented in adult social care at little or no cost.
“There are implications of paying above the National Living Wage, which may be partly offset by reducing recruitment costs, and it is imperative that any funding settlements take into account the needs of adult social care organisations.
“As one employer noted “when recruiting we have in our minds ‘would we like them to look after our family member?’”. All the learning in this report is driven by that idea because if organisations and individuals recruit and retain people with the right values and behaviours, then the result will be high quality service delivery.”
The ‘Recruitment and retention in adult social care: secrets of success’ executive summary can be downloaded here.