A new report issued by Totaljobs Group and the Work Foundation has uncovered that a third of UK jobseekers would consider working in social care, and outlines recommendations to improve working conditions in the sector to help drive recruitment and staff retention and enhance career progression.
Analysing the findings of the report, Totaljobs content manager, Ellie Green, writes that the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit have both had an impact on the industry. While the former [Covid] has put social care firmly in the national spotlight, the latter [Brexit] has given rise to new challenges around recruitment, exacerbating existing issues around labour shortages and high staff churn.
The issues around recruitment and retention are critical, with the number of jobs in the adult social care sector set to rise by 32 per cent by the year 2035 to meet the needs of a growing UK population.
Addressing recruitment more specifically, the report uncovered that 31 per cent of UK jobseekers would consider a career in care, with 53 per cent now saying they have a more positive view of the sector because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the critical role carers have played on the frontline.
However, Green says: “While it is positive that public perceptions of working in social care have improved, misunderstandings around the realities of this career path could result in a high churn of potential new hires.”
Retention, therefore, is a major problem area in the industry. Indeed, the report supports this hypothesis in showing that more than a third [37 per cent] of social care staff feel motivated to look for new employment opportunities, with better salaries, better opportunities for progression, less stressful work, and a need to feel more valued and appreciated earmarked as key factors.
Furthermore, 14 per cent of staff surveyed are looking to move out of the sector entirely, indicating that the industry is losing talent while trying to recover from the impact Covid has had on its workforce and clients.
Commenting on issues around progression, Green continues: “A lack of career progression is one key factor driving social care workers to look for a new role. In fact, the report found that almost half [49 per cent] of care workers say that more opportunities for progression would encourage them to stay in the sector.”
Of course, these lingering issues beg the question: what can the industry do about them to better recruit and retain staff and open better pathways for progression?
Green adds: “To improve turnover rates, social care providers should refine their employer brand messaging to position care as a long-term career for potential candidates, with opportunities to train and progress. With this, creating a people-first culture where social carers feel valued in their day-to-day work is essential for retention.”
On the back of the report’s findings, Totaljobs has recommended several steps that care providers can take to attract and retain a thriving, motivated workforce, which include:
- Adopting a values-based approach to recruiting at entry level, such as using scenario-based interviews, or group assessment days that bring out the ‘people facing’ aspects of working in care.
- Highlighting the training opportunities and range of qualifications on offer to enable candidates to see care as a long-term career path.
- Ensure staff feel valued in their day-to-day work, through building stronger relationships between managers and carers, providing robust mental wellbeing and stress support, and creating clearer routes to progression.
Totaljobs has also called for action at policy level to help provide support for social care providers in their endeavours to recruit and retain talent.
Green explains: “The government must deliver on its commitment to produce a long-term strategy for funding and delivering adult social care into the future that takes into account pay and progression in the sector.
“Furthermore, social care sector bodies and regulators should coordinate with central government and national governments to create a sector-wide, long-term strategy for workforce development including creating a Continuing Professional Development Framework well supported by funding.”
On June 8, 2021, Totaljobs and the Work Foundation conducted an interactive webinar revealing insights from their joint report, which covered a number of issues including how perceptions of social care have changed because of the pandemic, how the sector can attract a new generation of motivated workers, the benefits around opening progression pathways that care workers want, and how care providers can reduce staff churn.
The webinar was presented by Totaljobs CEO, Jon Wilson, and the Work Foundation’s Research lead, Melanie Wilkes, before a panel of industry, recruitment, and policy experts alongside Care UK, the Trade Union Congress and Care England.
The online webinar can be accessed here.