Nov 21

Top tips for individual employers on retaining personal assistants

Posted: 15 November 2021

Employing a personal assistant provides more choice and control over how you live your day-to-day life.

Our most recent data shows us that there are around 70,000 individual employers employing their own staff. The average turnover rate for personal assistants is 18.2% which is considerably lower than the turnover rate of 39.1% for care workers.

When you find a personal assistant who’s right for you, it can lead to the formation of a strong relationship, and one that you want to maintain for the long-term. That’s one reason why turnover rates are relatively low among personal assistants.

To support individual employers to continue to grow and maintain strong and long-lasting working relations with their personal assistants, we’ve put together some top retention tips, based on our key resources and discussions with individual employers.

Recruit the right match

The first step in successfully retaining staff, is hiring someone who’s right for the role from day one. When we spoke with individual employers about recruitment and retention for our Secrets of Success report, the most commonly cited tip from individual employers for successful recruitment was hiring someone you already know. This could be a family member, a friend, neighbour, or someone else you know through the community or work.

Individual employers who recommend hiring someone you know said they felt it would mean their personal assistant would have a better understanding of their specific needs, would be more flexible about the hours required, and that they felt more comfortable around people that they knew.

Similarly, if not hiring someone you know, many individual employers also suggested seeking recommendations and referrals from others.

Individual employers also highlight the importance of finding someone who’s the right ‘fit’ for you - whether that be according to their values, attitude, personality, chemistry, or simply based on a gut instinct.

Agree how you’ll work together from the start

Individual employers also highlighted the importance of being clear about your needs from the start and deciding clearly how you’ll work together.

Our guide for individual employers on agreeing how to work together covers a comprehensive, step-by-step process to set out expectations and actions from the outset. This includes the responsibilities of both the individual employer and the personal assistant, setting boundaries and outlining a clear purpose for the role of the personal assistant.

This guide can be used as part of an induction process, which is a key element of embedding your personal assistant into their role and establishing a long-lasting working relationship.

Have  a look at our induction tips in our individual employer toolkit to help you plan an effective induction.

Be a good employer

It’s not too surprising that one of the top tips cited by individual employers on how to retain staff, related to simply being a good employer.

Of course, that’s quite a broad term. Being a good employer could cover having good lines of communication, treating your personal assistant with respect, being flexible, creating a positive working environment, and showing your staff that you value and appreciate them. These are all factors which were cited by individual employers as values of a good employer.

To support you in being a good employer we’d advise working in line with the Manager Induction Standards. These standards set out what managers need to know and understand. They’re designed to help you to recognise and develop your management skills, so that you can be a good employer.

If you’re a new employer, they can help you to build confidence and understanding; for more experienced employers, they’re a useful check and a way to review what you’re already doing.

Find more tips on being a good employers in our individual employer toolkit.

Invest in your personal assistant’s development

Another vital element of being a good employer is investing in your personal assistant’s ongoing development.

Providing continual development for your employee increases motivation and makes them feel valued, both of which make them more committed and more likely to stay in their role long-term.

Luckily, there’s support and funding in place to help with this. The individual employer funding can provide funding to cover training and development courses for your personal assistant to allow them to learn new skills and develop in their role.

You can also make use of Skills for Care funded training for individual employers and personal assistants, available through local user-led organisations. This could cover a range of topics from neurodiversity, to moving and handling, or British Sign Language. Reported outcomes from our previous training includes decreased turnover among personal assistants.

As well as providing training and development opportunities for your personal assistant, it’s also important to have regular supervision meetings which allow you to meet formally on a one-to-one basis to discuss your personal assistant’s role, highlight successes and discuss any challenges or training needs. Having this regular update with your personal assistant can help to make sure they remain happy and effective in their role.


For more guidance and resources for individual employers see our individual employer hub.