Employee referrals most effective way to fill staff vacancies and boost retention

Care home providers can be like seagulls fighting over a chip when it comes to finding good staff and should rethink their recruitment strategy, says a hiring expert.

Neil Eastwood: staff recruitment and retention is a challenge

Neil Eastwood, author of Saving Social Care, the definitive book on finding and keeping frontline care staff, advises the Department of Health on recruitment. He told the second Kent Registered Managers Conference in Maidstone on October 3 that finding talent is a challenge and using digital jobs boards is not always the most effective way to recruit.

His said the most successful way to find good people is through word of mouth and staff referrals.

“Care homes need to ask themselves whether their recruitment strategy reaches the people it needs to,” said Eastwood. “Are they targeting older people who might have experience of caring for a friend or a relative?”

He also advised care homes to:

  • Think of the language and imagery they use in job ads. Are there older people pictured and might they be turned off by words such as ‘career’?
  • Reduce the length of an application form and avoid including barriers to potential applicants such as asking for a National Insurance number or a full CV at the first stage

“There is evidence that people are put off applying if the process appears complicated or time consuming. The important thing is to start a conversation with potential carers and then ask for additional information later on,” said Eastwood.

He added that many care homes had introduced staff referral schemes and these worked well because existing employees feel empowered when they are involved in the hiring process. They are also in an ideal position to explain the personal care offered.

“A scheme can also boost retention rates because employees see friends joining and feel they are also being developed by being involved. Often it is the little things that can help people stay at a care home, such as the manager or owner saying welcome and making sure new recruits are settling in.”


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