Retaining people from the point of recruitment

The recruitment process is a useful way of understanding how someone’s values fit within an organisation and whether they have the right personal traits to deliver high-quality care. It’s also a healthcare support worker’s (HCSW) first experience of an organisation.

What retention challenges can arise at the point of recruitment?

Some challenges that can impact this experience and make HCSWs more susceptible to leaving, can include:

  • A lack of understanding about the role
    • A common reason for the early attrition of HCSWs, particularly those that are new to health and care, is a lack of understanding about what the HCSW role entails within a specific clinical setting.
  • Prolonged waiting times
    • Waiting a long time between applying for the role and being offered an interview, and from attending an interview to being made a job offer, can impact a HCSW’s satisfaction in the role from an early stage.

Once recruited, a lack of support and development, alongside challenges within the role, can also lead to early attrition and HCSWs leaving the NHS.

We know from evidence and insights gathering that as well as long recruitment processes and not being clear about the roles and settings, some of the other reasons for early attrition can include:

  • Having an unsupported early experience through the lack of a comprehensive induction
  • Inadequate pastoral support available for HCSWs
  • No clear career pathway and a lack of available development opportunities
  • HCSWs feeling undervalued and that their importance and the contribution they make to teams isn’t recognised
  • A lack of understanding around what flexible working looks like for this workforce.

Mitigating these challenges

Trusts have several tools at their disposal for mitigating these challenges.

  • Holding recruitment events that include films or information showcasing ‘a day in the life of a HCSW’.
    • This can help to illustrate the realities of the role, and/or a particular clinical setting and give candidates the chance to see if it’s right for them. Alternatively, you could ask HCSWs already employed in your organisation to talk about their role at these events and answer questions.
  • Using Values Based Recruitment (VBR).
    • This can help to prepare a HCSW for what to expect in the role, whilst also drawing out their personal qualities and helping you to assess their fit within your organisation.
  • Strong relationships and joint working between HR and Operations teams, and clinical staff.
    • This can help in developing more efficient recruitment process and can be critical in preventing prolonged waiting times for candidates.

Case study: Simulation training at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust wanted to find ways to attract people who might not have previously considered a career in the NHS, to transfer vaccinators into substantive paid positions and to reduce attrition of HCSWs through transparency of advertising.

The trust decided to focus on films simulating different situations HCSWs might find themselves in, developed through the lens of the patient journey, to help prospective applicants understand the HCSW role before they apply. They were designed so that once commissioned they could be turned into a series of experience tools for inducting and training HCSWs, and so they could be used in the long-term within the trust’s interview process.

These simulations followed a patient’s journey, allowing viewers to see the broad range of roles available within the NHS and the associated caring responsibilities.

The trust is also moving towards a skills-based recruitment approach, offering interviewees an opportunity to showcase their transferable skills and values.

Case study: Cultivating a rapid, practical recruitment process for mental health HCSWs at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s HCSW vacancy rate was higher than normal due to a lack of staff capacity for recruitment because of the high demand on services.

The trust reviewed its recruitment processes to make it easier for clinical staff to take part and ensure candidates had a positive experience. They also looked at ways to attract different groups and more local people into the roles.

They advertised roles as widely as possible on a range of different platforms, then established a realistic and efficient timeline from receiving an application to interviewing candidates. This ensured that candidates did not drop out or find another role because of the process taking too long. The trust also over-interviewed to mitigate for candidates dropping out.

The recruitment team long-listed candidates to save clinicians time and to ensure candidates were high quality and to ensure candidates had the right values, the advert asked candidates to outline how they demonstrated the trust’s values in their supporting statement. This also helped in shortlisting, as those that didn’t include this were taken out of the process, and it meant the trust was able to recruit people who were new to care, as well as those with prior health and care experience.

The trust asked successful candidates for a start date, then worked to get all the pre-employment checks done within this timeframe. As a result of these changes the trust reduced its vacancy rate from around 4.9% to 1.6%.

More tools to support recruitment of HCSWs, and retention from the point of recruitment, can be found in the Recruitment Toolbox on the FutureNHS platform.

More tools to support recruitment of HCSWs, and retention from the point of recruitment, can be found in the Recruitment Toolbox on the FutureNHS platform.

Next sections in this guidance