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Retaining your staff

by Roger Pratap

Running care homes since 1994, Roger founded leading luxury operator Majesticare. His expertise in finance, property and strategy has delivered strength, reputation and value.

It’s a busy day and amidst the other zillion things you have to do, the ominous envelope from a member of staff appears on your desk. Another resignation letter. It feels like staff are dropping like flies, and good replacements are like hen’s teeth.

How many care hours are you short now? How are you going to fix this? What’s the secret to a low staff turnover? This important strategic issue is all too often subject to a quick fix. However, mastering the dark art of staff retention is absolutely vital and brings untold further benefits.

Make staff retention your best friend

Recognise that retaining your staff is invaluable. Not merely about recruitment costs or management time – the true impacts of staff turnover are on reputation, occupancy, agency staff usage, morale, more staff leaving, in fact conquer this one and suddenly life gets a whole lot easier.

The serious side to morale

Bonding activities have their place, but you also need a serious morale strategy. Low morale, poor quality of work, absenteeism and staff turnover tend to feed off one another. Respect, value and appreciate your staff, which costs nothing, but to them is as valuable as their salary. Ask for input and give them a voice. Staff who are proud of their work and their employer are at their happiest, and they will stick with you.

Think it’s all down to pay?

Your rates of pay can’t always be the best, but research has proven the best people often stay for non-monetary rewards. Care about your staff and support them – personally and professionally. Their wellbeing and job satisfaction feeds the reputation of the home and keeps them by your side.

Recruit, recruit!

A few people leave and everyone is working extras to plug the gap. Worse still you have agency staff. Positions made vacant create workload for those who are left, which snowballs as the good people left behind grow frustrated with overwork, disinterested co-workers and instability. Always know your shortage of contracted hours! And recruit!

Why the best staff stay (or go)

The most caring staff will stick to a job where they work with other most caring staff. They want to be surrounded by quality and good practice, and supported by an organisation committed to the same values as them. So quality breeds quality.

Leadership and loyalty

If you fail to lead your home, your talented staff will seek leadership elsewhere. Leadership is much more than instructing and directing people. Your emotional strengths, behavioural characteristics, standard setting, integrity and commitment are what build your team’s loyalty.

Communicate and empower

People who feel they are making a difference will stick to their jobs, but those who feel their views don’t matter will behave like ‘hired hands’ and will leave on a whim. Give plenty of feedback to your staff, recognise their potential, train them well, then give them autonomy.

Negativity doesn’t work!

Learn to put the right spin on negative feedback – criticise constructively! Be fair, be consistent and be nice. “I praise loudly. I blame softly.” (Catherine the Great, 1729-1796.)

A sense of purpose

Paying attention to staff retention shapes the culture of your home and develops a collective sense of purpose for all the staff. This cultural shift leads to greater focus on the residents. Staff feel like valuable individuals with unique skills. Then they truly become the single most valuable part of the business.

Bad staff or bad manager?

To finish with the words of Jean Paul Getty “The employer generally gets the employees he deserves.”

“The scholar does not consider gold and jade to be precious treasures, but loyalty and good faith.” Confucius (551-479)

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