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Recruitment and retention in social care

Recruitment and retention of quality staff will be an issue for every organisation attending the CFG Social Care Conference. Skills for Care’s Annette Baines makes a case for a values-based approach.

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On any given day in adult social care there are around 110,000 vacancies we need to fill. That stark number should give all of us pause for thought.

Although we fill many of those vacancies as people move around the sector, it still means every day, we need to find thousands of new people to join our sector. We estimate the current churn rate is around two thirds of those workers leaving to join another social care provider. This means that employers not only have to find new people, but must also be mindful of the cost of recruiting and inducting them – which works out at around £4,000 for every new worker.

You don’t need me to do the maths to know that isn’t a sustainable position in the tough times we’re operating in.

And the challenge isn’t going to reduce significantly any time soon as our latest figures from the Size and structure of the adult social care sector workforce in England, 2019 report suggest that we will need to fill another 580,000 job roles by 2035 if the workforce grows in-line with the population of those aged 65 and over.

Given that the voluntary sector currently accounts for about 19% of all job roles – or 310,000 people – there’s not an organisation attending the conference who won’t be facing challenges finding and keeping quality people.

It’s clear to see the growing demand from people who need care and support in our communities, and I think one way we can help meet the challenge is by making sure as many employers as possible use values-based recruitment as a way of finding and keeping the right people.

That process starts well before anyone sits down in front you for an interview. It means identifying the core workplace values in your organisation, then embedding those values in everything you do, for example, job advertisements, the application and the selection process. This helps you get a real sense of whether the person has the right values to come and work for you.

It isn’t an easy process, and nor should it be, but it does work. Feedback from employers is that that for £1 invested in a values-based approach to recruitment there is an estimated £1.23 return. Staff turnover is lower (survey findings:19% rather than 24.6% using traditional methods and 62% of staff recruited for values have lower rates of sickness and absence).

The other big challenge is once you’ve recruited the right people, how do you retain them given the high churn rates in the sector? Again, using a values-based approach can help and I will talk about this in more detail at the conference. But we do know the core elements – a supportive induction, creating a positive place to work, making sure staff can access learning and development opportunities, having good working conditions and making sure staff are rewarded and recognised.

I’m confident most of the organisations attending the conference have been using elements of this approach, but the free tools on our website are there to help you think about the best ways to ensure your staff feel valued and recognised for the work they do.

The reality is that there’s no magic cure for our recruitment and retention issues, but we do know adopting a values-based recruitment approach does work. I look forward to having a frank and open discussion about how you can make that approach work for you and the people you work with.

Annette Baines, Programme Head – Recruitment and Retention at Skills for Care will be speaking at the CFG Social Care Conference in October. Don’t miss it – book your place now

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