Skills for Care

Please don’t go! Why the first 90 days of employment are so important

02 Aug 2022

5 min read

Neil Eastwood

  • Recruitment
  • Retention

Neil Eastwood, CEO of Care Friends and author of ‘Saving social care’, gives his perspective on why efforts to reduce staff turnover in the first 12 weeks of an employee’s role are so valuable - and what works.

“I’m leaving.”

Not an easy thing to be told in any situation, but employers across the care sector have been hearing this far more frequently in the past year, and most often from those who only recently joined their organisation.

Retaining a care workforce is a tricky business. It’s not possible to ever get it completely ‘right’. But despite the complexities and unknowns associated with why care workers leave their role and how to prevent it, I’ve discovered through my workforce research that much of the staff turnover which the sector experiences in the first 90 days is avoidable.

In this blog I want to bring you five retention tips, based on my studies of some of the ways employers in the care sector have successfully reduced the number of staff leaving early in their employment.

1. Think carefully about where you source your staff from

If you select suitable and reliable staff with the right values for the role, that is in my view the single biggest contributor to finding staff who will stay with you long-term. And you’re more likely to do this if you hire them through reliable sources. For example, employers report their 12-week turnover can be more than cut in half for new starters who were referred by an existing member of staff versus other traditional recruitment sources. The more you can involve people with a connection to your company in the recruitment process, such as referrals or returners, or those with family care experience, the better things will get.


2. Keep your promises

During the induction period it’s more important than ever that the implied promise made to the candidate during the recruitment process is honoured. Too often expectations around shift patterns and the requirements of the job don’t reflect reality. A common trigger for leaving is a lack of appreciation of the personal care requirement of many care roles. Ensure these elements are addressed and understood fully before a job offer is made.


3. Use a peer mentoring programme

One of the most successful HR processes an employer can introduce is a buddying scheme, so that new-starters are assigned a more experienced colleague to be their ‘go-to’ support person. A study of one peer mentoring programme in the US care sector found turnover was reduced from 53.7% to 17% once the scheme started.


4. Welcome new staff with open arms

Successful care providers operate a full welcome programme to ensure that during this risky period new-starters feel valued. Examples include management being regularly visible to the recent joiners, the boss greeting each new-starter personally, providing a welcome ‘goody bag’, and signage using the new starters’ names.


5. Reach out to older and retired candidates

A range of research studies suggest that older workers are more likely to cope with the emotional and physical pressure of care work, particularly if there is uncertainty over a consistent income. Younger staff may be more reliant on a minimum earnings level whilst those without dependent children and perhaps other sources of income can be more flexible. Ensuring you reach older people, such as mid-career changer and retirees with your recruitment promotion can help here.

These simple tips will, I hope, be of relevance and interest to any care employer, but it’s one thing to read about suggested changes and quite another to realise their material value. For that to happen, work practices must be changed. That is not a trivial thing to do in a busy care setting, but focusing some of your retention efforts on the first 90 days of employment is likely to have the biggest impact.


Hear more from Neil in our maximising retention webinar.

Find more recruitment and retention advice with our #BuildingYourWorkforceSpotlight.

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