Recruitment and Retention

Staff recruitment and retention is a core talking point for social care providers with growing demand for care services and a shrinking pool of care workers in the sector. Neil Eastwood, Founder of Sticky People, shared some insightful research about ‘How to find more, and better frontline care applicants’. Neil’s findings are the result of 6 years research, outside the UK, looking at some of the best care organisations and understanding how they recruit and retain staff. According to Neil, there are 6 steps to consider:

Sourcing Applicants

There are two types of job seekers; active and passive. Active job seekers are often, but not always, unemployed (why is this) or unemployable (they will job hop for a few extra pence if they have the qualifications). They will typically look for jobs online, in newspapers and on generic job boards where competition is high and applications are submitted at the click of a button.

Passive job seekers often have high potential but are unaware of the opportunities available. Within social care, Neil identifies passive job seekers to be the over 55 year olds that intend to work part-time past retirement age. They may already be caring for another family member or volunteering in the local community. Unlike younger carers using care work as a stepping stone in their career, Neil’s research suggests it is the older, passive job seekers organisations should focus on as they are flexible, reliable, have fewer commitments and are more likely to drive. Passive job seekers can be targeted via social media, open days, referrals, community campaigns and targeted marketing.

Neil also recommends ‘reactivating good leavers’. His research concludes that on average, 3/10 good leavers will return within 6 months if you continue to engage them using phrases like “your clients miss you”.


Don’t forget the importance of marketing! Ensure a proportion of your marketing spend is on recruiting staff and not just attracting clients. If you are posting jobs online, check they display well on mobiles. Over 50% of job seekers will only search for online jobs using a mobile device. Organisations are also under the misconception that Friday is the best day to post an advert. Many companies are now looking towards social media for recruitment. To read more we have a blog post on how to recruit a new generation to social care here.

According to Neil’s research, job seekers look at the start of the week, therefore you should aim to post on a Monday and repost every 8 days to keep the stay near the top of the search listing. Use compelling taglines that will appeal to over 55’s such as “stay active”, “meet new people”, “rare opportunity”. If your selling point is that you pay 5p more an hour you will attract the wrong type of people that will job hop as quickly as you recruited them.

Pre-screening & Interviewing

Pre-screening should be used to assess the personality and values of the applicant. This can be done using psychometric testing. Not only does the applicant need to fit your organisation’s needs, you will also need to meet theirs. According to Neil’s research 87% of interviewees are more likely to join your company if they can meet a member of your existing team, so if viable, allow some time for this during the interview process. This gives them the assurance that the working conditions are good and your current staff are satisfied.


Staff retention is usually the biggest issue for organisations during the first three months of recruitment. The reasons to stay need to outweigh the reasons to leave. Neil suggests considering the following:

  • Ensure there is a visible leader for employees to come to.
  • Send a welcome card to build an emotional connection before they start.
  • Equip supervisors and coordinators with tips on how to get the best out of new starters. Train them in soft skills such as active listening, clarifying and paraphrasing.
  • Identify primary breadwinners in a family and offer support where possible i.e. understand situations such as child care, family problems and financial problems.


Care workers are emotionally connected to their job and the service they provide. If staff feel they are appreciated at work, they will more likely stay. Verbal appreciation (for instance when a carer has covered a shift or gone beyond their duty) as well as written appreciation if the form of a letter to their home go a long way in retaining staff – above offering a pay rise.

In conclusion there are 6 things to remember that can increase recruitment and reduce staff turnover:

1. Passive job seekers beat active job seekers

2. Target over 55’s in the community

3. Identify and support primary breadwinners

4. Train line managers in active listening and conflict resolution

5. Write thank you notes home

6. Don’t write off good leavers



Similar Articles to this one:

  1. How to Recruit and Retain the Right People in the Social Care Sector
  2. What Makes a Good Care Manager – Are you the Right Person for the Job?