How did recruiting care staff get this exhausting and what can we do about it? | QCS

How did recruiting care staff get this exhausting and what can we do about it?

July 17, 2017

It doesn’t seem that long ago that finding new frontline care staff was never an issue. How times have changed. Powerful headwinds are making the search for quality staff a real challenge across the sector.

I first heard the term ‘care giver shortage’ over five years ago when studying the US homecare sector. It took two more years before those recruitment pressures began to be felt here in the UK, but, as in the US, they are here to stay for some years to come. Further in the future I predict widespread automation will start displacing whole categories of jobs and working in care could have something of a renaissance. But what to do right now?

Powerful headwinds

One of the challenges of our fragmented, competitive and highly localised social care market is that in-house recruiters operate in isolation and have little time to take a breath and review what best practice techniques are available to them. There are also many adverse factors affecting recruitment which are outside of the control of an individual provider – negative public perceptions of care work, funding pressures, Brexit concerns, increasing competition from other sectors and so on. But there is a surprising amount providers can do themselves to offset these issues. I’ll pick three for now.

Build your brand – street by street

The first point to make is that, except for importing migrant workers, all your future frontline care staff will come from the local area. This means it is well within the abilities, and budgets, of any provider to build a strong employer brand and increase awareness amongst high potential groups in the community. The value of being known and perceived as a good employer cannot be overstated (hint: think NHS).

Motivation is everything

Secondly, care recruiters should not over-rely on sources of applicants where their primary motivation is the need to find work. Job-seekers must also want to care and support others to be a success in the role. Often that is the missing piece in our recruitment approach. Go out into the community and find those who demonstrate the right values. Don’t rely on internet job boards.

Candidates demand a great experience. Is yours?

The world of apps and instant gratification has affected candidates too. They will not wait for a response in 48 hours. Recruitment must be prioritised. Consider every new application like a piece of fish left out of the fridge. You have an hour or two to do something about it.

If recruitment is holding your organisation back, Neil’s bestselling book, Saving Social Care: How to find more of the best frontline care employees and keep the ones you have could help. You can find it here:

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Neil Eastwood

Author and Recruitment Specialist


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