Generational retention in the NHS – Generational programme for 2021

Our Generational retention programme, which will run until March 2022, will focus on finding solutions to better support our people in the early and later stages of their careers. We know there are many great examples being delivered today – fabulous preceptorship programmes, mentorship and coaching schemes, football style transfer windows or ‘listening 2 staff’ and ‘itchy feet’ conversation sessions.

Organisations with generational retention practice to share

The programme has led to us working with a wide range of exemplar NHS organisations who have developed some good practice examples of ways they have retained staff in either the early or later stages of career. We have held a number of engagement events with the organisations participating in this programme to enable learnings to be shared with each other. We want all NHS organisations to benefit from this programme and therefore we will soon be announcing some bite-size webinars on a range of topics covering the key retention themes that will run throughout the year:

We will publicise the topics and dates of these sessions on this site once they are available.

Staff Focus Groups

An important part of the programme has been to hear directly from our key workers who are either relatively new to the NHS or in their later stages of their career. We have run a number of focus groups that have been instrumental in helping us understand what the key issues are and how we might support them going forward. This is helping us to develop a range of interventions aimed at supporting staff to stay longer in the NHS. We are continuing to engage with the focus groups on a regular basis and we are now digging deeper into specific interventions such as pensions, talent management and what would help people to thrive at work.

What staff are telling us

The focus groups that we have run with staff have been hugely insightful and it has been clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on how people are feeling. Below is a snapshot of some of the key themes that we have been exploring further.


We know that preceptorship support has always been important for nurses, and the pandemic has had a significant impact on how staff are able to access support. Staff want to ensure this has not put them at an overall disadvantage, particularly if they have been shielding and unable to undertake clinical practice. Those who are in their early stage of employment view mentoring and coaching very positively and appreciate when this continues beyond the preceptorship phase. Equally, those in later stages of their career have valued being able to provide a legacy for newly qualified nurses by providing mentoring, and some organisations have made this into an attractive alternative career for experienced nurses. We also know the AHP community is exploring ways to introduce preceptorship for newly qualified staff.

Flexible working

Staff are telling us that having a variety of choices in their career is important to them. Those in later stages of their career want to continue working and may want to work fewer hours and perhaps a less demanding role but it has been difficult for some staff to achieve this in their organisation. The pandemic has meant the NHS has had to make huge changes in flexible working, many of which are still continuing in organisations.

Health and Wellbeing

This has become even more important due to the pandemic and how staff feel cared for in an organisation has been a deciding factor in helping them stay. A wide variety of resources have been made available to staff and managers during the pandemic.


We have learnt many staff are finding it difficult to access ‘easy to understand’ pension information that can help them make informed decisions. Instead some staff are relying on friends and family to help them understand what decisions they should make about their retirement. Approaches to pension guidance or flexible retirement options in organisations is variable. We are developing a new guide to help staff understand their pension and the options open to them.

Retention support

Alongside the bite-size webinars we intend to share a range of case studies on these pages specifically focused on giving NHS organisations fantastic examples of good practice in retaining NHS people in early and later careers. We will include any useful tools, models and evaluation or impact along with the case study so you can adapt them for your own purpose.

Any other support tools we develop will be made available as soon as they are ready. For example, in the first quarter of this year, we will provide a simple guide to pensions and retirement options aimed at staff to help them consider staying longer instead of taking retirement.  We are looking at ways to provide information and support on menopause as well as tools to help with talent management conversations, particularly where this can help address equality and diversity issues.  There will be further tools developed over the course of the year.

Recent Interventions

Please have a look at our recent interventions page which contains links and information on current and new support resources.