Staff retention - a checklist for good practice

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A crucial component of management in the NHS, is to retain skilled and experienced staff that deliver high-quality care to patients.

A certain amount of staff turnover is normal and healthy, but it's important to proactively look at the reasons why people are leaving to take action to prevent the loss of skilled, experienced healthcare professionals.

We know that our staff are our biggest advocates. The evidence base around positive staff engagement shows that two of the indirect consequences of disengaged staff are increased staff absence and turnover. We also know that where turnover is high it can lead to difficulties recruiting staff, particularly if skills or expertise is in short supply.

We have put together this good practice checklist. The content was gathered from an event we held in December last year which focussed on a number of themes, one of which was sharing good recruitment and retention practice in use across the NHS. 

Staff retention: a good practice checklist

1) Know your  workforce. It is important to review organisation-wide workforce data and for managers to be able to drill down into this by department and team to review, compare and learn.  Gather and use data and intelligence information on the following:

2) Review the effectiveness of your staff engagement plans and activity.

3) Test whether your engagement and communication routes with managers around people management issues are effective.

4) Review recruitment and selection processes, induction and preceptorship.

5) Consider how your values are used in recruitment and throughout the employee life cycle.

6) Review your health, work and well-being strategy and its effectiveness.

7) Look at your whole reward package and how you describe this to potential new recruits as well as your current workforce.

8) Explore if your e-rostering practice is compatible with encouraging flexible working.

9) Review your approach to flexible retirement options.

10) Review your approach to talent management and development.

11) Understanding the impact of activity. Build time and measures into your retention plan to enable you to reflect on what has and hasn't worked. Drill down into team level data.

12) Use some of the data sets identified to help you track trends, highlight where additional detail from an area may be needed or where something is working well so that you can look to replicate it.

The hyperlinks provide more detail and resources to help you undertake the activities within your plan.


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