Care management team discuss how to retain skilled care workers

Sick of saying goodbye to your fantastic healthcare workers?

People in healthcare series

At the start of this series, we examined the ongoing challenge of recruitment and what healthcare employers can do to improve their recruitment strategy in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

An estimated 7.3% of roles in the adult social care sector were vacant on any given day across England in 2019/20, representing an average of approximately 112,000 vacancies at any one time. This was higher than that of the wider UK economy which had an estimated vacancy rate of 2.7%.1

Retaining the staff you have is just as important as attracting new talent. Healthcare is well known for low retention of staff, attributed to a number of factors including poor induction and training, long hours leading to burnout, budget cuts and a perceived lack of opportunities for progression.2

What is the rate of staff turnover in healthcare?

The rate of employee turnover in the adult social care sector was estimated to be 30.4% in 2019/20. 66% of these people stayed in healthcare, taking different roles in the same organisation or moving to another healthcare employer. That’s around 430,000 workers creating churn within the industry. The remaining 35% left the industry altogether. The number of people leaving their roles in healthcare is double the UK average, which is thought to be around 15%.3

Residential care providers reported the highest levels of turnover with a third of staff leaving their roles within a twelve month period (2019-2020). Domiciliary care services also had one of the highest rates of turnover, particularly for care workers (39%). Registered nurses also had a relatively high turnover rate (41.3%), equivalent to around 12,500 leavers.

Turnover rates were lower for those working for local authorities (13%) and direct payment recipients (16.7%). The healthcare role that has shown the greatest increase in turnover in the last ten years is that of care workers.4

Work out your employee turnover rate

Use the following formula to work out your overall turnover % rate month-on-month or year-on-year.

Total number of leavers during period x 100 / Average total number employed over period

This will give you the turnover rate of all leavers, including those who retire or leave involuntarily due to redundancy or dismissal. It can be useful to work out a separate figure for voluntary turnover - this is the kind of turnover that is more likely to pose problems for your business due to resignations or early retirements being hard to predict.

Having high staff turnover is expensive. Use our handy cost of employee turnover calculator to find out how it’s costing you. In many businesses, the cost to replace staff may differ between each major employment category. If this is the case, get a more accurate cost of turnover by calculating the cost for each employment category in your business.

The secret to retaining employees in your healthcare business

Healthcare employers with turnover rates of less than 10% were asked to consider what they believed contributed to their success. Here are some of the common answers received:

  • Investing in learning and development (94%)
  • Embedding the values of the organisation (92%)
  • Celebrating the achievements of both the organisation and the individual (86%)
  • Involving colleagues in decision making (81%).5

Below, we explore the benefits of some of these ideas and how they might help you retain employees and improve your financial position.

Values-based recruitment

Healthcare organisations reporting lower staff turnover use interviews not only to assess an applicant’s skills for the position, but to get to know their values and motivations.

Research into the impact of values-based recruitment and retention found that:

  • 58% of staff recruited for values were better at developing the skills needed for their role
  • 72% of staff recruited for values performed better than those recruited using traditional methods
  • 62% of staff recruited for values had lower rates of sickness and absence
  • 3 in 4 employers reported that staff recruited for values exhibited better social care values than those recruited using traditional methods.

Values-based interview questions should be decided after careful consideration of your organisation’s values and culture. Reflect on business goals and core values to decide what attributes your ideal candidate would display. Following an interview, compare a candidate’s responses to the organisation’s values and mission.


Induction is the perfect opportunity to welcome new recruits and build on their excitement and positivity for their new role. A proper introduction to your business will make your new staff feel welcome and become productive, quicker.

New staff will often look forward to meeting their immediate colleagues as well as members of other departments. A buddy system can provide an informal way for new starters to ask questions and receive support in the first few weeks. As they start to familiarise themselves with policies and procedures, be sure to include a description of your organisation’s values, culture, mission and vision. This is likely to resonate with their own value system, if you’ve adopted values-based recruitment.

Having a comprehensive, structured induction process has been shown to play a big part in improving long-term staff retention. A check list can help ensure all new employees are treated fairly and receive the same information.7

Reward and recognition

Showing appreciation for the hard work of your employees helps them feel their work has a sense of purpose and that they are valued. Often, in difficult times, a kind word or small act of recognition can have a big impact on an employee’s outlook.

Employers that practice reward and recognition in the workplace should expect to see reduced turnover rates and absenteeism levels due to employees feeling more appreciated and placing a higher importance on the work they do. Furthermore, it has been shown that reward and recognition contributes to more engaged employees who are motivated with higher productivity levels and quality of work.

Employee benefits are a cost-effective way to reward employees fairly, across all areas of your business. Providing a new workplace benefit demonstrates to employees that the business is invested in their physical, mental, financial and social wellbeing.8

Promoting and educating staff on their benefits is a perfect way to engage employees throughout the year. For example, alerting staff that complimentary flu jabs are available in the autumn, promoting the cycle to work scheme in the spring and perhaps reminding them of the employee assistance programme (EAP) during difficult periods.

People are your most important resource as you endeavour to achieve the multitude of ambitious targets healthcare providers are required to meet. Tackling employee engagement first could start you off on the right foot for tackling all other priorities.

For more information on using employee benefits to reward and engage your staff, improving wellbeing and retention - contact our Health and Care team on 0113 350 8712 or request a call here.



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