The healthcare sector is facing a crisis as it struggles to keep hold of its employees in the UK. Earlier this year, it was reported that a total of 33,000 nurses (equivalent to 1 in 10) left the NHS in 2017. What makes this statistic particularly worrying is that just 30,000 nurses were recruited during this same period. With employee turnover rates that have been slowly worsening each year (the rate is now 20% higher than it was in 2012/13), this is the first time that the NHS has had to report that leavers are outnumbering the joiners.
It is not too difficult to imagine why healthcare workers may be looking to leave their jobs. Many work in high-stress situations and roles can often be inflexible, involving long hours and a degree of personal sacrifice (over 58% of NHS employees claimed they work additional unpaid hours in their position). Add to this the fact that employees are more than likely feeling the pressure of the public’s constant scrutiny and struggling to carry out their jobs with a reduction in resources, it’s not surprising that job satisfaction can quickly dissipate. However, it is essential that the sector acts now to boost employee retention so that it can continue to function optimally and provide a good service to the public.
Recognition and reward as a retention strategy
Whilst some factors causing people to leave their jobs may be outside of an employer’s control, there is one aspect that can be influenced: how employers recognise, reward and engage with their employees in the workplace. According to the NHS Staff Survey 2017, only 42% of employees feel they are valued by their employer. Considering how much is asked of these employees and the difficult conditions they often must face, taking the time and putting in the effort to make them feel appreciated is the least that employers can do to improve job satisfaction.
By showing appreciation for the perseverance and hard work of their employees, publicly rewarding their achievements and successes, employees begin to feel that their work has purpose and that they are a valued member of the organisation. When facing challenging or unpleasant situations, a kind word or act of recognition can have a big impact on an employee’s outlook. Rather than feeling overworked and unappreciated, they will feel more positive about work and motivated to continue performing well.
By practicing recognition and reward in the workplace, employers will undoubtedly see reduced staff turnover rates and absenteeism levels as employees form a deeper connection with them and recognise the positives of working for them. However, the impact of this activity will also bring about other positive effects. For example, it has been shown that when employees are engaged and motivated, both their productivity levels and quality of work improves. With the healthcare sector constantly looking to meet a multitude of ambitious targets, tackling the employee engagement issue first could start them off on the right foot for tackling all their other priorities.
Putting recognition and reward into practice
Due to their nature, healthcare organisations can have a vast number of employees, ranging from administrative staff to medical practitioners and these can be spread across multiple locations. With such a large and complex workforce, implementing a recognition and reward programme that suits everyone may seem impossible. But with the new technology available nowadays, there are much simpler ways to pull together a comprehensive but flexible programme that meets the unique needs of each organisation.
If you’re thinking of launching a recognition and reward programme in your organisation, here are some guidelines to ensure you do so successfully:
- Clearly define recognition rules:
To ensure recognition is fair, it is important to set clear guidelines for what behaviours and attitudes should be rewarded. This could be based on your organisation’s core values and it is essential for ensuring that recognition and reward is practiced in a consistent manner across the company.
- Monitor recognition activity regularly:
For a recognition culture to take off successfully, everyone in your organisation needs to buy in to the programme. Therefore, it’s important to keep track of where recognition is working well and where it is not being practiced or activity seems to be dropping off so that you can react to this before it is too late.
- Give everyone the chance to recognise others:
Particularly in large organisations, enabling peer-to-peer recognition can be particularly effective. Not only does this help boost team morale but senior staff are unlikely to pick up on every reward opportunity that arises in an organisation. By allowing everyone the chance to recognise others, fewer of these situations are likely to go unnoticed.
- Remain flexible:
Recognition should be practiced each day, but it should be adjusted depending on the situation and the person who is being rewarded. You may want to celebrate big achievements publicly but for smaller achievements, a simple “thank you” email may be more appropriate.
- Work with an employee recognition and reward specialist:
Implementing a recognition and reward scheme requires a lot of time and effort, especially if you are starting from scratch and plan to run the entire scheme internally. Nowadays, many people turn to organisations that specialise in employee recognition. One example is Each Person which offers a zero-cost platform that provides everything a company needs to implement recognition and reward initiatives effectively across their business: online manager dashboards, peer-to-peer recognition functionality, marketing support and real-time reporting.