Planning your retention strategy

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Taking a strategic approach to staff retention will help to identify, deliver and measure the improvements that are needed. Developing a workforce strategy will also help you to identify the right people to engage in the planning and implementation process.

Many trusts have implemented strategies to help them retain staff and reduce turnover rates. Below are some top tips to help you develop and get the most from your strategy.

Consider the wider context the health services are working in

  • Successful retention strategies will consider relevant recommendations made in recent reviews to improve patient care, such as Francis and Cavendish, and will also complement your organisational strategies and values. 

Get buy-in from the board

  • Successful retention strategies start with engaging board members to gain their understanding and a commitment to develop the workforce and improve retention. 
  • Planning is essential and action plans can help to communicate and deliver outcomes and outputs. Some trusts have appointed a steering group to oversee action plans and ensure their delivery. 

Gather local intelligence

  • A retention strategy based on local and recent intelligence about what matters to the workforce is much more likely to succeed. 
  • Trusts have access to a range of information and intelligence they can use to inform plans. Tools such as the Electronic Staff Record (ESR), e-rostering records, caseload data, feedback and complaints, and exit interviews all provide a rich source of information that will help to understand the experience of your workforce. 

Involve staff in the development and implementation

  • If your staff are happy and feel supported you are more likely to retain their skills. Staff engagement events are a good way of finding out what matters to them. Find out how through engaging their staff Derby redesigned their emergency workforce which has improved staff morale and retention.
  • Start by looking at how you can improve low morale, and reduce feelings of stress and burnout. When dealing with the demands of high workloads things such as poor IT systems and equipment, or a lack of administrative support can contribute to stress. 
  • The health and wellbeing section of our website contains a range of resources and useful ideas to help improve the health and wellbeing of your staff.
  • Link your retention strategy to good career pathway and training programmes for the workforce. Professional development programmes provide the knowledge and skills needed to deliver quality services and help to keep your staff motivated and interested. Our education and training section cuts across numerous workstreams in the NHS and points you towards useful guidance. 
  • Other learning opportunities which are free of charge include the NHS Leadership Academy programmes.

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