Staffing needs, human capital management and growth are a priority for every business, but for health & social care providers, the additional consideration of patient safety and care standards add even more weight to the gravity of the HR role.
With a growing demand for care and support within the UK, the pressure on social care organisations to recruit and retain more skilled carers has hit an all-time high.
HR professionals in healthcare need to be partners with care management in improving employee engagement, job satisfaction, and in turn, the quality of patient care.
Providing the kind of career development opportunities employees desire can be costly, but the costs of hiring and training replacements are far higher. Training employees is an investment, and it pays dividends on the other end, both in retained employees and in their increased capability.
Attracting & recruiting care workers
According to Skills for Care, an estimated 440,000 care workers leave their job every year, with approximately 122,000 vacancies open at any one time.
In February 2019, the Department of Health and Social Care launched its ‘Every Day Is Different’ campaign in answer to this widely recognised issue, to promote just how rewarding a career in social care can be. The campaign aims to not only attract new people with the right values to the sector but also equip care organisations with the marketing tools to recruit and retain the right people.
Whilst this movement is designed to raise awareness of the care industry overall and drive interest to your organisation, individual companies are having to take action too to boost recruitment and attraction and alleviate staffing issues. This also means managing a candidate’s expectations from the beginning by being honest about the realities of the job. This can save time on both sides and helps ensure a good match with the organisation’s ethos and the people who need care and support.
Benefits & rewards
Compounding the war on talent, social care recruiters must also counteract negative perceptions of the sector to attract new carers, as well as take the necessary steps to prevent the loss of existing staff.
Whilst the career needs of Generation Z, Millennials and Baby Boomers may differ in many respects, these groups share more commonalities than you might think.
A recent report from Skills for Care indicated that, above all else, carers value good working conditions and flexibility within their role, as well as competitive pay rates and the opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skill set.
Employees increasingly expect to be able to work in a pattern that fits their lifestyle, and there are many different options employers can now offer their staff, depending on their life stage and individual needs, requiring changes both to benefits packages and organisational cultures to help attract care workers from all walks of life.
Younger employees, for example, may prefer TOIL schemes and the opportunity to earn extra holiday days, while working parents may be looking for flexible working to fit around childcare, such as shorter working hours in the week, compressed hours, term-time working or working from home.
Another way in which to tackle the staffing issues in health and social care is to ensure your new carers hit the ground running from day one with an effective onboarding and development programme.
Utilise technology to help new starters to get items such as policy document reading and essential training out of the way before their first day, so that they can focus on their top priority: providing quality care to clients.
With staff retention being critical to long-term stability in the care sector, it wil be key to continue investing in the development of your care workers. This can be done through performance reviews alongside regular training to help develop clear career paths for everyone. And don’t forget, a little appreciation and recognition can also go a long way.
With electronic, internet-ready devices saturating the care environment, the shift toward digital systems for delivering and managing patient care, managing workflows, educating and entertaining patients, and keeping professionals in touch with those they look after requires ongoing support to ensure staff are trained to make full and effective use of the systems and tech and to motivate adoption among the employees who will actually be using them.
HR professionals need to be aware that systems like these are becoming increasingly prolific in the industry. It is also important to note that functional roles of the human resources department in healthcare may include the implementation of new training within their own organisation.
DavidsonMorris are established advisers to the health & social care sector. As employer solutions lawyers, we work with health & social care owners and providers to support with their full people requirements including immigration & employment legal advice and human resource consultancy. We understand the commercial and legal challenges facing the sector, and work to support our clients in meeting their people management and planning needs while reducing legal risk exposure. Contact our health & social care sector specialists today.
Last updated: 2nd January 2020