If the NHS struggles to be an employer of choice, how can a change in culture improve the retention and shape of the workforce?

19 November 2018

2017 marked the 70th birthday of the UK’s largest employer, the NHS.  This huge institution has undergone extensive change from when it was first launched.  It has faced financial, staff and patient challenges and has been struggling to keep up with the pace of the modern medical model. In fact, The NHS has a turnover of approximately 10,000 staff every month according to NHS Employers.

Despite discussion around best practice frameworks, initiatives and interventions at board level, there continues to be an apathy amongst the medical workforce in taking pride in their employer. Negative newspaper headlines only add to this misery with horror stories around the mental health of the workforce at stake, nurses living on the breadline and staff shortages that are being plugged by expensive agency workers.

Many senior leaders within the NHS know that they need to support staff by providing an environment that positively encourages greater wellbeing and investment. Simply put, looking after the workforce to enable them to look after the patients.

According to NHS Confederation there were 1,048,000 FTE staff employed by Hospital and Community Healthcare Services (HCHS) across the NHS in March 2017 which equates to an 11.45% turnover of staff per annum.

By running a Liaison Workforce Staff Benefit Programme via our bespoke portal a Trust of 5,000 staff will not only save 14.38% in Pension Contributions for those staff participating but will also retain 50 staff members per annum. Saving the Trust £1,000,000 over a typical 3 year benefit period – at no cost to the trust or board.

Recruitment costs vary dependent upon the level of staff being recruited, how they are recruited and where they are recruited from but the approximate cost per recruitment is £5,000 per role (excluding the high cost of bank staff who are often required to fill unfilled posts).

On this basis a Trust with 5,000 staff will have an approximate turnover of 547 members of staff per annum and will incur an annual recruitment cost of £2,862,500. Anything that increases staff retention and therefore reduces this annual cost needs to be looked at carefully.

This week it was encouraging to see the integration of the work of Health Education England with NHS Improvement, as they look to develop a more coherent approach to workforce development across the NHS.

Our work with NHS partners seeks to improve the wellbeing of the workforce by putting in place services to enable staffing that is beneficial to both the trusts and health boards and to the workers needed.  A biproduct of our temporary workforce management service is greater retention of staff leading to less gaps in the rota which, in turn, reduces the stress on workforce decision makers.

This is an example of how a small change in culture can improve the morale of the workforce and, as we move forward, we look to see importance placed on national, regional and local organisations working together effectively to support the NHS and make it once again an employer of choice.

Eduardo Leonardo

Business Development Manager, Liaison