Healthcare managing director Adam Hutchison says better staff retention is crucial to maintaining a high quality care business in the face of the challenging recruitment environment.
Having staff turnover of less than 10%, compared with an industry average of more than 20%, provides an effective shield for Belmont Healthcare from the major recruitment challenges facing the care sector.
Adam told CHP that better staff retention was about giving people a reason to be at work and creating the right environment. The managing director has found that providing flexible contracts and hours has helped retain staff.
“Working around people’s children and family lives has been really beneficial to us,” Adam said.
Belmont has introduced a new rostering system where staff can offer shifts to other team members. People are rewarded for taking others’ shifts with higher hourly rates.
“It’s still more cost effective than hiring agency workers,” Adam noted.
Being flexible does not extend to offering zero hour contracts, however.
“Everybody has a minimum fixed contract that they agree that works for them,” Adam said.
“You have to show you are committed to your workers in order to gain loyalty in return.”
It’s a partnership approach that has reaped dividends for the business. Belmont has not hired agency workers for 18 months, although it has inherited some agency contracts through a recent acquisition.
Offering career development opportunities has been another key factor to staff retention.
“We give people the opportunity to say where they would like to be in five years’ time,” Adam pointed out.
Two of Belmont’s current home managers began their careers as carers with the provider.
Staff empowerment through the delegation of greater responsibility is another key ingredient to Belmont’s maintenance of a settled and inspired workforce.
The provider helps ease the burden on home managers by delegating some of their responsibilities to carers.
Team members are able to take extra responsibility in medication management and wellbeing leadership, as well as specialising as Dementia Champions. Staff members also champion support offered to colleagues through the Care Workers Charity.
When assessing the recruitment challenges facing the overall sector, Adam said a more joined up health and social care approach was essential. He pointed out the vital role social care could play in providing a platform for nursing careers through offering placements and work experience. Better promotion of professionalism in the sector was also urgently required, he argued.
“It goes down to education level,” Adam said.
“Individuals who don’t perform well at school are offered an NVQ in adult social care as a consolation. What is that saying to young people about the health and social care sector?
“We should be focusing on all the amazing things you can do in adult social care.”
Adam said apprenticeships were a key means of encouraging people into the sector.
“The sector offers so many opportunities other than being a carer,” Adam observed.
“There are roles in accountancy, operations, nursing, or marketing, to name but a few.”
You can find out more about Adam’s thoughts on staff engagement and retention in his recently published book, Risk V Reward: The Employee-Employer Conundrum, which is available on Amazon.