Recruitment and retention of carers

Recruitment and retention of carers. Individuals that are suitable to be carers are few and far between. Demand for carers is growing exponentially. There are also more and more providers entering the market to provide care services, so demand on the small pool of suitable candidates is intense. Combine this with high levels of alternative employment, from a stable and robust economy, add more remote rural locations, with some market towns even reporting zero unemployment, yep you heard it right – zero unemployment!

It is certainly a challenge but not impossible to recruit high quality, motivated, conscientious and loyal care staff, dedicated to the care of others. It is about the right total approach, with all elements working together. Recruitment marketing has become much more sophisticated and goes beyond the default placing some recruitment ads on your job board or newspaper careers page of choice and hoping that they will come. Most organisations are doing that, and with more organisation starting up and joining the quest to find good care candidates, it is getting worse by the day.

Care organisations have reported that typically up to 50% of candidates from the traditional route channels used for recruitment marketing, don’t even bother to turn up to an arranged interviews. Many recruits that are shortlisted and employed are reported to be leaving after a short time of being in post, after the process of costly onboarding for the care organisation deciding that the care profession is not for them.

Good Recruitment and retention of carers is about becoming gravitational and attractive to the right individuals with the right value sets. The recruitment marketing approach should serve not only attractive but also filter the candidates that don’t want to be carers and have the right values and attributes for a longer term commitment. Care organisations that can differentiate and resonate with the carers in the local candidate pool will win. They can take on more of the work, they can provide more reliable, higher quality services for individuals in their care.

Care recruitment is nothing without good retention

The usual grumbling is around the minimum wage level of pay, which is often quoted as the only thing that perpetuates retention problems in the sector. This is simply not true. Many other sectors of business have similar recruitment and retention challenges. Genuine carers often see care as volunteering, a noble community service where they are valued and you happen to get paid, to make a difference to people less fortunate than themselves. Good recruitment and retention of carers? Think about how many individuals volunteer for causes they believe in, the Scouts movement, the Salvation Army, animal welfare, helping the homeless there are thousands of such organisations. They get up in the morning with a clear sense of purpose and value. This makes them happy.

Surveys we have conducted on care staff within organisations company-wide, yes the pay is in there, but it is much less important than you would think. Communication and leadership are number one, followed by recognition and appreciation career progression and training. Appreciation is a powerful driver the work of Dale Carnegie around human motivation and values is worth a study. The culture of a care organisation in the key. A culture that values and recognises contribution inspires effective and conscientious care staff behavior. A culture that transcends through from the top to all areas of the business.

Recruitment and retention of carers, to culture this, a care organisation has to invest in real solid structured leadership behavior, not just have a watery management speak vision written on the boardroom wall, but become the vision, the thought leader, and voice within the care sector. This has to be the values, recognition, solid high quality and consistent communication from leadership. The key thing is that this communication resonates with the audience group of carer, is consistent and joined up. If not, it just words and can have the opposite to the desired effect. It is about saying the right things and behaving in the right way that reinforces what you say without contradiction. Else, it will compound the effect of “they say it, but they do not really mean it.”

Most care organisations scrimp and focus on spending as little as possible on good communication and driving positive engagement of their care workforce, thinking it is a saving and not a priority. From experience working with care organisations and other sectors where recruitment has been an issue that invest in these areas vs. those who do not. Those with recruitment and retention problems vs. those that do not. The correlation is clear. Leadership teams can fall into the trap of just focussing on functional operations ignoring the emotional and connective needs of their care workforce, who often spent time working alone. They need to belong to something a comradely that has a deeply founded cause.

Our reckoning was that it costs about £1,500 to £1,800, after discussions with various clients considering the cost and man hours for total recruitment and onboarding process. The Skills for Care organisation suggest a higher figure from their impact studies that it is more like £4,000 each time you lose a member of trained and deployed care staff. Considerations from recruitment marketing, disruption, onboarding, and training are factored. Retention, it a significant cost to a care businesses that often gets overlooked as an invisible, unavoidable cost or just denied.

Don’t just have a vision, become the vision for the sector

The care sector landscape is littered with ‘me too’ organisations with little or no differentiation, competing for care staff. Most are superficial, lipstick on a pig approaches with slapped together online experiences and cloned content. These organisations do not stand up to online research by candidates looking for care work; many organisations do not live and breathe these values or even set out a consistent communications and behavior benchmark. Saying so does not make it so.

This is the key driver to strong values set recruitment and retention which gives the particular care organisation a competitive recruitment and retention advantage over time. Vision and defined values are favored by individuals that choose to be carers and there is overwhelming evidence to support this. Values set recruitment is not so much advertising and coercive promises; it is about genuine attraction. There are no quick fixes to this; it takes years of consistent and focused effort to create a strong culture and reputation that candidates gravitate towards.

The power of values based recruitment

Skills for Care is a great resource.

For more white papers on values recruitment for carers, supported by research. I have also experienced this first had with one of my care clients who have unprecedented success. Not all care organisations have a staff recruitment and retention problem; they are in the minority, but they are cleaning up and well, deservedly so.


Recruitment and retention of carers



Recruitment and retention of carers

Care recruitment branding

Care Recruitment branding has never been more important, especially when there are very limited candidates. They have decided they want to be carers it is a question of whom do I work for? Who shares my values? Candidates in the main cannot differentiate one employer from another from the mass of competing careers information online. There are thousands of ads on job boards all saying the same thing. There are thousands of care organisations all saying the same thing. Google care jobs yourself, see what I mean?

Recruitment and retention of carers. I was at the Heath+Care show in London this year at the EXCEL Center. I like walking. I like walking exhibitions and visiting every stand to pick up on the zeitgeist, meet people, to listen to the moaning, hear the positive stories and suck up the innovations and different world views on care. A handful of domiciliary care agencies simply doesn’t have recruitment and retention problems. These are the ones I focused on during the day; they are the one I researched and sought to meet with. The successful organisations that have less of or no existent care staff recruitment and retention problems invested in a value culture and values led recruitment.

One of our care clients, in particular, has an incredible staff retention year on year of 10%

Recruitment and retention of carers. One of our care clients has unprecedented retention levels of 10% for domiciliary care. The industry average is around 45% with areas of the south east be as catastrophically high as 70% plus. So confident is the business of our client we are pushing out recruiting for other care organisations, creating an academy for NVQ training high-quality care staff.

The battle has been fought and won online

Recruitment and retention of carers, don’t fall into the trap of marketing like crazy only to experience disappointment. Google or look on the job boards, they are stuffed with recruitment care ads, competing with something the same.

The key is driving traffic then getting a conversion. The conversion is applications. If you do not get applications, your recruitment, and organizational recruitment propositions are too weak – it is a simple and transparent as that. You can see for yourself in Google Analytics; candidate arrives come and leave almost immediately never to return because of a disappointing experience.

The inconvenient performance truth is in the google analytics

Recruitment and retention of carers, online marketing, are much more joined up with excellent content experience; it is a user democracy with users voting with their feet and Google taking notice. The power of the brand combined with good content and an amazing user experience and strong values-based content is your biggest SEO/SEM tool to attract longer deeper investigative visits to your domiciliary care site’s careers section.

We have learned this working for the NHS, Social Services, and Local Authorities, on social marketing project as well as a revolutionary care platform, that involved our advanced online experience. You get to see first hand what works and what does not.

Recently we worked on a first iteration a basic care provider website, the user experience was skimped, no mobile compatibility, corner were cut everywhere, weak content, no social media integration, poor basic functional design, a price driven project that we felt would deliver no value. We reluctantly delivered this belt and braces project, knowing full well it would likely fail.

Sure enough user candidates were spending less than 10 seconds on the website, evidenced by Google analytics and IP addresses never to return after a disappointing experience. The next conversation six months down the line was marketing the website for more traffic as there was a staffing crisis. I had the discussion that this would be pointless as the engagement was so low, with a massive bounce rate above 80% from fruitless searches from users being disappointed by what they have found.

Another indicator that everyone was losing interest was a steady decline in individuals searching for the organisation by name on Google. Year on year this search activity was halving, indicating a declining interest and awareness of the organisation.

We were commissioned to develop a version 2.0 of the website and were given the budget on presenting this evidence. We created a campaign, we created higher value content, structured the user experience and content based on research, we made the site responsive and mobile compatible, we made the site more engaging, values driven. The change was significant. The bounce rate (immediate leaving the website) has dropped from around 80% to 33% for candidates looking for work. Users also now spend between 4 to 8 minutes on the site, reading on average 6 pages of content, there are now multiple return visits tracked through IP addresses.

It’s about visibility but you have to be utterly engaging, values driven, joined up and worth looking at

Recruitment and retention of carers. If you do not get this right as you probably already know you, it is just expensive and depressingly ineffective, care staff arrive, care staff leave. It is much better to be effective; you will spend less on recruitment and retention long term and give your carers more recognition and thank you’s. Get it right, and you are on the first page of Google, first ranking SERP above all the competition and the generic job boards like Indeed, Monster, Total Jobs, Reed, etc. and all of the competing job agencies.

The longer a user spends on a website after using a search term informs Google of the value of that search term and the value of the website to the user. So it follows that Google moves higher quality and worth websites up the rankings to occupy the first page top spots. Proposition and relevant quality content are everything.



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