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Top tips for attracting and retaining nursing staff in the talent shortage

Posted by: Tracy Bolan

As you are aware, the care home system has been impacted by chronic talent shortages and, for a number of years, has been heavily reliant on talent from overseas to fill many of the available posts. Following the decision to leave the EU, the uncertainty about what it would mean for migrant workers led to a fall of 89% in the number of nursing staff opting to work in the UK and a 67% increase in the number of workers already here, deciding to leave. This, compounded by the additional pressure that our aging population puts on care providers, has meant that this is a tough time for the sector.

However, going forward, things are certainly looking brighter. Theresa May’s recent announcement that EU citizens in the UK ‘will be able to go on living as before’ means nursing professionals can continue to regard the UK as a desirable place to work and as a result, the pool of available talent should grow, aiding the recovery of the sector.

So, during the current period, when care home owners are still struggling to both recruit and retain existing talent, what can be done to not only position you as an attractive employer to potential recruits but, crucially, keep existing staff?

  1. Motivate current employees by regularly discussing their career progression and make career pathways and opportunities for promotion clear.
    Foundation On Nursing Standards chief executive Dr Theresa Shaw recently warned that nurses working in social care ‘can miss out on support and development opportunities’, meaning that good employers should be offering mentoring to staff and actively helping them to progress. Don’t wait until they apply elsewhere to find out that they feel unsupported and under-challenged.
  2. Ensure that you offer ongoing training and, in particular, support with the revalidation process.
    Regular appraisals will help identify areas where individual staff members need to focus. Now that revalidation requires nurses to demonstrate 35 hours of continuing professional development (of which 20 must be participatory), employers that offer ample training opportunities are more attractive to job seekers.
  3. Show your appreciation for staff by ensuring that you implement well-being strategies and an appealing employee benefits programme.
    If workers don’t feel properly rewarded, they will look to move. Ideally, do this in conjunction with their input. Map out what your staff want you to offer at different stages of their careers – new starters, mid-career, nearing retirement – and compare that to what you do offer.  For example, employees might seek flexible working, opportunities to try something new, the chance to shadow a colleague in another area or a more robust induction period. Recognise their work though initiatives such as employee of the month, sharing best practice and holding focus groups.
  4. Publicise all the positive aspects of working for you.
    To begin with, ensure that job descriptions and adverts are appealing. Highlight your positive working culture, for example through including case studies using existing staff and posting them on your company website. Raise the profile of the company amongst jobseekers, for example by having a newspaper cover newsworthy events.
  5. Ensure you’re doing long-term planning: consider where your skills gap is and where you will need staff in the future.
    Use this information to assess the talent pipeline now; don’t leave it too late. Also, consider partnering with a specialist agency that can assist in this area.

If you would like specialist advice from experts in nursing recruitment, get in touch today to find out how we can help you find the right talent.

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