Posted on 25/09/2018 by Rob Muddiman
There is a lot of pressure on staff in GP surgeries at the moment; budget cuts and increasing workloads combine with greater demand from patients to create stress in the workplace. Research from the Guardian suggests that four out of five NHS workers have considered leaving their job and the number of vacancies for staff in GP surgeries remains high.
Number of Advertised Vacancies for Staff in General Practice
Source: NHS Vacancy Statistics
This high demand for staff, combined with a shrinking candidate pool, means that it is more important than ever before for GP practices to retain employees already in place. Recruiting new staff costs time and money and the experience and knowledge lost when an employee departs cannot easily be replaced. There is also increased pressure on the remaining staff, who have to cover while the post is left empty and during training, and employee morale can suffer. In the worse case scenario, it can lead to a chain reaction where more employees resign. So how can surgeries keep their staff happy and disinclined to leave?
In these times of severely squeezed budgets, it’s not always possible to introduce the latest technology or multiple staff training days to improve the working lives of your employees. Some factors, such as increased pressure from patients, are out of your control. But there are some low-cost ways in which you can boost the job satisfaction for your team and improve retention rates.
1. Conduct exit interviews
In order to address the reasons why employees are leaving it’s essential that you know what those reasons are. Exit interviews are one of the best ways to find out exactly why leavers decided to resign. Are there any common complaints or frustrations? Are other practices offering more attractive job packages? Is there a problem with career progression? Of was it simply a case of the employee not being the right fit for the role?
When you understand the motives behind employee departures, you can use that information to create HR initiatives that address the issues and help reduce your staff turnover.
2. Listen to your staff
This is one of the most important ways of ensuring job satisfaction but is still rarely done well. You need to have a framework for regular feedback from your team, such as weekly team meetings or annual appraisals. Giving your staff a chance to tell you exactly what motivates them or frustrates them helps you to tackle these issues before they become a spur to resigning.
You can also use these meetings to solicit ideas for improvement in your practice from your employees. Even if you cannot implement every suggestion, showing that you are listening and that their ideas are valued will make staff feel more empowered and happier in their jobs.
3. Recognise and reward
Again, this is something that is free and easy to do, but few employers take the time to do it properly. When your staff go above and beyond in their roles or handle a difficult situation well, it’s important to give them praise. Ideally, that praised should be specific to the situation, meaningful and public – having their hard work recognised in front of their peers is much more valued than an email sent directly to them.
4. Make job roles clear
It’s very hard to do a good job when you’re not 100% clear about what you should be doing. All too often, work is not done because no-one knows who is responsible for it or decisions are delayed because workers do not know if they are allowed to make tham.
Ideally, every employee would have a written job description that is kept up to date as their role evolves, and the whole team understands who is responsible for each task. Staff members who are clear on what needs to be done and who will be doing it work for more effectively as a team and enjoy their roles more.
5. Review your recruitment process
If you have a high turnover of relatively new recruits, then it’s a good idea to look at your recruitment process and see if it can be improved. For example, are your job descriptions and person specifications accurate and up to date? You don’t want to spend time and money recruiting someone for a role that turns out to be very different once they start.
It’s also important to make sure you have a good induction process, so that staff feel welcome and included and get up to speed quickly.
We hope that these practical suggestions will help you boost staff retention. If you would like get more advice specific to your practice, or if you have any vacancies to fill, TPP Recruitment will be exhibiting at stand 24 of Management in Practice on 27th September at Olympia. Come and have a chat and find out how we can help!