More than 93% of carers would be more likely to leave a job that did not support their wellbeing, according to recent research from Connect2Care. Health and social care consultant Neel Radia says that with staff recruitment and retention in the care sector becoming ever harder, fostering a supportive workplace is crucial.
That is why he is urging employers to take a ‘top-down approach’ and train managers to support staff.
“There are many rewards to a career in care – but also many challenges, especially since the pandemic. There is a lot of feeling of being undervalued. Working long hours, not having enough respite time to recuperate, which is then causing stress, which is taking people out of the workplace,” he says.
“And I am adamant that it’s up to leaders to change this. When it comes to wellbeing and positive workplaces, it’s always about starting at the top and taking that culture down.
“You need to start with the leaders who are managing the team at the bottom because that’s where a lot of the burnouts happen.
“They should begin with clear communication. It’s about keeping the line of communication open to understand where your staff’s challenges are and seeing it from the eyes of the person doing the job day to day.
“Managers, for example, often feel they are on call 24/7, negatively affecting their work-life balance. From a leadership point of view, it’s really important to have a communication plan in place. For example, if a manager is on their day off, everyone knows who else to contact instead. And supervisors require training so that they have the empathy needed to have conversations with staff without judging.
“There needs to be sufficient training for the middle manager side and the team leaders because they’re representing the company, they’re representing the care organisation, and they’re representing your values as a business as well.
“In Connect2Care’s research, 61.7% of respondents believed that staff should be given training in achieving a positive work-life balance. From a supervisor’s point of view, it’s about giving them the opportunity to understand actually what is a priority and what isn’t a priority in the day-to-day running from a care aspect.
“Another focus is diversity and inclusion, with ongoing training vital to ensure that everyone is supported, regardless of factors such as ethnic background, neurodiversity or disability. Unless you’ve got the tools and training, and it’s something embedded within your culture and in your organisation’s genes and in your values, then how do you get past it?”
He says employers needed to think ‘outside the box’ for other ways to foster workplace wellbeing – offering staff discounted gym membership, or arranging lunchtime walking groups.
“With the key planks of open communication and training in place, employers can look outside the box for other ways to foster workplace wellbeing. Some care homes offer staff discounted gym membership, while others have lunchtime walking groups.
“If you put benefits and perks in place to help your staff’s wellbeing, that will reduce absenteeism and people going off due to mental health and stress-related illnesses. It will help you retain your team.”
Connect2Care is a UK training and apprenticeship provider for the adult and early years care sector.