In our last blog, we talked about how Nursing Now’s three-year campaign to raise the status and profile of nursing was drawing to a close. The work of this campaign, coupled with the global pandemic, has further reinforced the vital role of nurses and the valuable skills they bring to our communities.
Unfortunately, nurse shortages remain a significant problem in the UK, with news stories continuing to emerge about how the NHS is expanding its search overseas in a bid to secure talent. Additionally, a recent spike in burnout has led to record numbers of nurses leaving the profession in the last 12 months alone.
While there’s no silver bullet when it comes to attracting and, crucially, retaining nurses, there are several steps that employers can take to ensure their workplace stands out for all of the right reasons. We work closely with leading healthcare employers across the UK, who have shared some of the methods and key areas of focus that enable them to maintain a healthy talent pipeline and workforce.
“We were able to reduce employee turnover significantly by incorporating a flexible working and flexible retirement policy within our organisation.”
A 2020 survey by NHS Employers found that only 37% of nurses currently had a flexible working arrangement in place, and of those who did not, 83% would like to.
Of course, implementing a flexible working policy requires planning, leadership buy-in and continuous action to ensure success. Any policy should include information for nurses on how to make a flexible working request (remember, this needs to be as pain-free as possible!) and how it will be considered. Additionally, the roles and responsibilities of all staff involved in the process should be clearly defined, from the line managers to HR.
NHS Employers offers comprehensive guidance on how to realistically implement a flexible working policy in How to Embed Flexible Working for Nurses.
“In the last three years, we’ve invested more time and resources into training and development for our nurses. This has gone a long way in helping us retain nursing talent, particularly those just starting out in their career.”
Nurses want a future with an organisation and won’t hesitate to walk away in search of a better option if opportunities are lacking. Establish clear pathways to promotional opportunities and conduct regular appraisals to identify areas where staff members need to focus.
Ensure regular and set times to train are built into a nurse’s timetable, with the right personnel and resources in place for them to utilise. With revalidation requiring nurses to demonstrate 35 hours of continuing professional development (CPD), employers offering and publicising training opportunities will automatically stand out to job seekers.
When it comes to retention, succession planning should be front of mind. Establish who on your team can and would want to take the lead in the event of staff members leaving or retiring, and put in place the training and support they need to make that transition. If nurses see themselves or their colleagues being readied for growth, they are more likely to feel like their skills are valued, which is a powerful motivator to remain with your organisation.
“We have always encouraged a culture of support and collaboration in our workplace. As soon as we communicated this in our job postings and initial conversations with applicants, we had more success in recruiting the right people who would fit in with the team and had fewer candidates dropping out of the process.”
Creating and communicating a strong workplace culture is vital. All employees want to know they’re in a supportive environment and that their voices will be heard and valued when it matters. Most employers understand this and are working to put formal initiatives in place that encourage staff feedback. Additionally, many are carving out more time for one-to-one and group sessions that enable nurses to take time out, share their experiences and offer advice and support to one another.
Putting such measures in place is a start, but it’s essential that they are communicated to potential candidates. Job descriptions and adverts should include this messaging front and centre to ensure they stand out from the traditional, more formal “skills and experience” heavy adverts. If you have access to a company website, see if you can post case studies and testimonials from current employees that highlight your positive culture.
Need some support?
If you’re an employer looking for help recruiting and retaining the right nurses to fit in and excel within your healthcare setting, speak to a member of the T2 Healthcare team today. Call us on 0203 002 6305 for a no-obligation chat, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.