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Monday, 11 September 2017

Engage: How to create the working environment care professionals desire

Written by Lee Biggins

The healthcare industry is continuously under fire in the news recently, with extreme staff shortages and poor working conditions hitting the headlines. This is becoming a large problem, especially bearing in mind that the UK’s ageing population is in constant need of high standards of care. The pressure is on for employers in this industry to address the needs of their staff members, in order to draw in and keep the most talented, hard-working professionals.

The latest CV-Library research has given us a valuable insight into the needs of care professionals working in this industry. This research has revealed that certain changes such as flexible working, a good work-life balance and promoting mental health would make these professionals more likely to stay in this industry. Below we discuss how employers can create that perfect working environment that care professionals truly desire.

Promote flexible working

Flexible working has become a hot topic in recent years and it means that workers can have a better control over their free-time and feel less constrained by their working lives. This is especially true for staff with children who need their jobs to cater around their childcare duties.

Yet, it’s understandably hard for employers to manage this. After all, they have an organisation to run and need to find a balance between meeting employees needs and catering to their patients. It’s hardly surprising that 87.8% of workers in the social care sector think that businesses should offer flexible working. After all, employees in this sector work are under a lot of pressure to work hard, but like any other industry, want to adapt their careers around their lives.

The best course of action is for employers in the sector to consider how they can adapt flexible working around patient and employee needs. As shift work is common it may be beneficial to allow staff to request the hours they want work, within reason of course. Our data suggests that 69.8% of care workers agree a shorter four day working week would benefit them – so it might be that your employees could work the same hours but over longer days.

Tackle the work-life balance

In this digital day and age it can be hard for employees to switch off after work, especially in this industry where they may be an emotional attachment. But, unhappy workers are unproductive workers, so it’s important that employees know when to draw the line between their work and personal life. The inability to do so can cause many serious issues including high stress, dissatisfaction, poor sleep and more. Worryingly, 71.1% of care workers actually work more hours each week than they are contracted to and this should ring alarm bells for employers in the industry.

After-all, a poor work-life isn’t just the problem of the employee, but also, the employer. If one of your workers is off sick due to stress, it means more work for other employers and a less productive working environment. It’s the employer’s responsibility on the whole to make sure their employees aren’t overworked. The good news is that there are simple steps to encourage employees to have a good work-life balance, whether that’s making sure they leave on time, always take a full lunch break and have regular catch-ups with their manager. While it will make your workers happier, which is an obvious bonus, this technique can also help to improve staff retention rates, as employees should be more satisfied and healthier.

Promote mental health and wellbeing

Mental health and wellbeing holds a great importance in the workplace and shockingly 69% of social care workers have considered resigning from a job because it impacted negatively on their mental health. In any case, no employer wants to be at fault for causing their staff members to have ill health. There’s a strong agreement among 85.7% of employees in the social care industry that mental health days should be offered to workers. This idea is a great step towards giving mental health the same recognition as physical health. Mental health days could give employees the opportunity to relax and take some time for themselves. Then employees would be able to come back to work refreshed and ready to continue with their job.

This could not only increase staff happiness but also improve staff retention. In an industry crying out for more workers, everything possible needs to be done by employers to put their employees first. Employers might likewise consider proving free counselling services to staff that seek further help and support. These techniques can show employees that you do prioritise and listen to their needs, and they will respect you as a result.

It’s evident that many social care professionals need employers to adapt to their desires. After all, the industry can’t afford to keep losing staff due to poor working conditions. If employers listen to their employees they will find that it impacts positively on their organisation. While these changes seem scary to try, they could be a great success in addressing the current issues in the healthcare industry.

By Lee Biggins, Founder and Managing Director of CV-Library.