Employee Engagement in the Care Sector
The Care Sector is characterised by poor pay and low career ambitions of employees and faces serious challenges in attracting and keeping high calibre staff.
Peter Lawrence from Human Capital Department, discusses how improved employee engagement, has resulted in less staff turnover and more effective recruitment in the sector.
Employee Engagement can be thought of as the way employees and managers feel about their job, employer and place of work.
It is now widely accepted that if employees are highly engaged and feel very positive about their work, this will materially affect, not only their own performance, but the performance of the whole organisation [MacLeod Report 2009– “Engage for Success”].
When employees are really engaged, they will willingly “go the extra mile” and demonstrate “discretionary effort” – doing things they might not have to do. On the other hand, disengaged employees will have a negative effect which is noticeable and measurable as employee sickness absence, employee staff turnover, and lack of effort & motivation and poor productivity.
People are our greatest asset
Forward-thinking employers in the Care Sector recognise that employee motivation is complex; money does matter to employees but so do other factors, such as the quality of care provision.
What do employees really feel about their workplace, and what are the practical things that can help engage and re-engage employees? Rather than trying to second guess what the issues are, use of an Employee Survey Tool can really help identify the issues that matter to the workforce. This data can then be translated into a set of coherent planned initiatives, which will address concerns or issues raised in the survey and help engage and re-engage employees. Subsequent surveys can measure and track levels of employee engagement and improvements, both at an individual, departmental and functional level.
The action plan interventions vary depending on the results of the survey but plans typically focus on what three things can be done in the next three months, that will make a difference to employee engagement.
In one organisation “supervisions” with frontline employees tended to focus on the negatives, with supervisors storing up all the bad things someone’s done until the next supervision. The company were able to address this issue with a revitalised Performance Management Process. They now have two supervisions each year are dedicated to assessing progress against a framework and discussing progression. That is backed by access to a greater range of blended learning resources; face to face training as well as online resources which enables geographically disparate individual workers to feel connected.
A National Care provider found that employees were looking for career progression but there was no clear route or road map. The solution was to develop a career road map showing what the expectations are at each level of the job family - human capital department were engaged to develop a set of behavioural competencies for different roles and at different organisational levels which provided employees with a clear sense of what was expected in their current role and at the next level up; showing employees how to move from Care Worker to Team Leader. This has really help in career development discussions.
Another issue highlighted in an Employee Engagement Survey was that of Wellbeing; Care is a high-stress profession - there was a fear among employees that if they open up about their own mental health they may be judged incapable to look after someone else. All employees now have access to an Employee Assistance Programme and a range of occupational health services, including cognitive behavioural therapy.
These initiatives, and others, have helped to drive greater employee engagement at our clients within the Care Sector and led to measurable improvements in commitment and productivity.