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  • 25 September 2023
  • 19 min read

How Can Employers Retain Their Staff?

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    • Matt Farrah
    • Richard Gill
  • 1
  • 922
“As employees, we have to look after each other. We have to be kind. We have to be considerate to our colleagues. We have to help train new staff.”

With the ongoing staffing crisis, retention is a popular subject. In this informative video, Claire shares what employers can do to retain their staff, covering inclusivity through to what employees can do to support each other.

Hi everyone. Welcome back to another video. In today's video, we are going to be talking all about retention. This is all about what employers can do to retain their staff, but also a little section on employees too and their role.

So, on the 24th of May 2023 this year, the RCN put out a post that said there was almost 27,000 nurses who left the register in the last year, with more than half of those leaving a lot earlier than planned, and they cited that the reason for this was things like burnout, workloads, and the quality of care.

And this is why it's so important to try and retain the staff to look at ways that we can make a difference locally where we are, as well as the bigger scale.

What Is The NHS Doing?

So, what are the NHS doing about this? So, I do have my trusty laptop, because I have found an excellent guide from NHS Employers themselves talking about the improving and retention of Registered Nurses and midwives, a ‘toolkit for line managers and employers’. And this was a guide that was released in October 2022.

So let us take a look at, again, I've got my trusty laptop, at this retention guide for employers, this toolkit that we have from the NHS. So, we've got an introduction about the toolkit, getting started, using the self-assessment tool, retention guidance, developing your retention improvement plan, next steps, action plan, evaluating, because you have to do a cycle. Put things in place, evaluate. Put things in place, evaluate.

So, let's just scroll down, introduction. We won't go through the introduction. We'll skip that. Oh, hang on. What was this tool? Oh, it takes us to another page. Oh, we've got download it. Hang on. Oh, it's an Excel spreadsheet. Oh, why don't they make this simple for people? Come on then. Show me the spreadsheet. This is very wordy on my eyes. Why? Why is there so much information on a page. How to use it. Complete the self-assessment process. So it just tells you how to use the tool by the looks of it.

And you go along, there's a dashboard. So I think this looks like it's for probably more employers. I'm not going to go too much into that because that looks way too much for my brain to even focus on right now this second. So let's go back to the page that we were on. Okay. Next.

So about the toolkit. So that's the toolkit we just opened. Here we go, getting started. So the principles for conducting a self-assessment. So the thing is, I suppose you have to look at it from all angles, from the top, middle, bottom, sides, all of it. You need to look at the whole workplace environment, how we're going to do this, what are we going to do, and in a holistic way. This is basically what this is saying, I think.

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Taking An Inclusive Approach

This section here, inclusive approach. It has to, has to happen. People shouldn't be making decisions at the top without the input of the staff that it's going to affect. And I have worked in places where that happens and it fails and you just think, why didn't you ask the staff? Why didn't you include the staff in this? Because you could have got a far better outcome than what's just happened.

How do you know what's really going on? How do you know your staff? How do you know the organization, the way it's run? All you're looking at is data, and that's not a clear picture. You need to include the staff that's physically doing the job. And that is my one top tip. Be inclusive. Retention, you have to include everybody and make them feel valued.

Retention Guidance: Understanding Data & Progression Opportunities

So, retention guidance. This is the bit we want, isn't it? The things that's going to give us the most information, advice, guidance, all of the above, and how to make our place a happy place for our employees.

So understanding the data. So once you've done your self-assessment, if you wanted to do some sort of assessment, you need to understand it, you need to include the people, like I said, because the people's voice is really, really important.

So professional development and careers is a section in here as well. And I think this is a really good one because a lot of nurses, they want to gain more knowledge, they want to learn, they want to expand their skills. They may want to progress, whether it's up the banding or just progress personally and professionally with the knowledge and the learning and going on different courses to gain that. It's very individual and up to the person themselves and how they want to do that.

But if you're going to put this and make it happen, like this page says, so making it happen, you need to put things in place. You need to fund the courses and whatever development you want to provide your employees, but then you need to give them the time.

And at the minute with the staff shortages and everything, it's going to be really hard to do that and give people the time to update their knowledge and go on courses and do these different things and just different plans. So it's really, really important that you try and give them the time they need to make that happen.

Be inclusive. With retention, you have to include everybody and make them feel valued.

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Flexible Working

Next section, flexible working. I know this is a big problem, especially with people with children. They might be a carer for their family member. They might have a lot of stuff going on at home. They can't visibly do night shifts and things like that. So, giving flexible working is going to be such a difference.

It's one of the reasons actually that I chose GP in the first place, because the hours are just great. You get evenings off, weekends off, bank holidays off. I get to spend Christmas with my family. Really, really nice hours.

So giving those options for flexible working, and I know in big hospital trust, the acute sector, A&E, wards, things like that, it's going to be hard because at the 24-hour system, there's patients there 24 hours a day and we need to look after those patients. So it's going to be hard to do flexible working where it's fully flexible, because there needs to be some staff to look after the patients.

Employee Health And Wellbeing

Looking after your employees' health and wellbeing. That should be priority number one. Everybody's health and wellbeing should be looked after. That should be the core value of everything you do, making sure that the staff are well looked after, making sure that mentally they can do their job, making sure that their physical, mental wellbeing is completely recognized. And if it's not and there's something that needs to be put in place, put it in place and help support them.

And I know one of the things that I use that's been rolled out to some NHS trust is something called the Shiny Mind app. It's an amazing, amazing, amazing app, and it's just really good for things like reflection, gratitude, it's got meditation on there, it's got different videos, you can sign up to live webinars as well.

I've been to a number of live webinars, that they've just been incredible. They are run by someone called Rebecca Howard; I think her name is. She's a psychiatrist, and she is just amazing. I just love listening to her voice. She's automatically calming, and she's just incredible. So top tip, have a look at the Shiny Mind app and put it in place for your employees.

Or you could even sign up to things like yoga sessions, mindfulness sessions, things like that. There's so many out there that you can access online as well, just to give them something that they can take 30 minutes of their day to do, refresh, recharge, and come back with a clear mind.

Another good tip is some places do free gym memberships, things like swimming classes, dance classes, there's all sorts out there. So just have a little sink outside the box.

Ask your employees as well, what would they like to see? And what would they like more of in the workplace and outside of the workplace so that you can put it in place. And I think that'll just make them feel a lot more valued as well. You're listening to them, what they need to support their mental health and their wellbeing, and you're putting something in place to help them. It's going to get them motivated; they're going to feel valued. It's just going to be a really nice thing to do.

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Recognition And Feedback

Next section, pride, and meaningful recognition. While nurses, we don't do things to get recognition or awards, or nobody wants that really. But do you know what, it's nice to get feedback to say, "Do you know what, you've done a really good job. You handled that really, really well."

It's really nice to get that, whether it's through your appraisals, your supervisions, whether it's the end of the day you all come together during a handover or something, just say, "Do you know what, team? We did amazing today. Look at all these patients that we helped." It's really nice to get recognition in that way to say, "Do you know what, actually I did really good today."

Because sometimes as a nurse we get imposter syndrome, so just having that feedback to say, actually that was really good. You can think, oh, okay, I did actually do a good thing there. It can be really powerful actually to hear that from somebody.

And like it says, it does improve overall morale, job satisfaction, and it can even build relationships with patients, because if you're feeling good in yourself, your team's feeling good in yourself, that's going to have a knock-on effect to the care you're giving to your patients.

Enabling Excellence In Care

Enabling excellence in care. So this says, "For nurses, the central importance is job satisfaction." We know that. We want to be happy in our jobs, we want our patients to be safe, we want to deliver care well, and that's what motivates us. So if we've got all the tools to do that, that's going to help us stay in the job.

How can we make this happen though? I hear you ask. There is another page. I know. You've got all the answers here apparently.

So leaders, you can ensure trust strategies promote the central role nurses and midwives have in quality improvement, innovation, and service development. So it's coming together as a team, making sure you're all on the same page, if there's changes that need to be made, if someone's got a really good idea and says, "Do you know what, this doesn't work so well. What about doing this?" Put it in place. See if it works. See if the change happens for the better. And that's going to just help build that motivation again and say, "Oh, I'm being listened to."

Making sure systems and processes are in place. You need the resources to do these things, is what that's saying.

If you're feeling good in yourself, your team's feeling good in yourself, that's going to have a knock-on effect to the care you're giving to your patients.

Shared Decision-Making Councils

Enable opportunities to implement shared governance approaches such as shared professional decision-making councils. Actually, that last one, I used to be part of the GPN Shared Decision Council during the pandemic, and that was just amazing. It was full of GP nurses and leaders and managers and things like that from all different levels.

I was a Newly Qualified Nurse going into that, so I was voicing my concerns from a Newly Qualified Nurse point. And then they held all different bands and things like that across the UK. They all came together in one meeting, a monthly meeting to say, "Do you know what, this happens. This is what we've done. These are the changes we've made. These are all the great things that we are doing, and you could put them in place too."

So you're sharing that knowledge, sharing the good stuff to make the place a better place to be, but also showing that this didn't go well and how do we fix that? So then you're putting a plan of action to say, okay, well next time we'll just do it this way. And you'll get feedback from other team members.

Shared decision councils are fantastic to be a part of. If you could get part of that in your trust where all of you come together each month, just one person from each place each month coming together to do that, make a massive, massive difference, I think.

Good Leadership

Leadership. So, I love talking about leadership to be honest. And people often mistake leadership as management. As you are telling people what to do. And people think, I can't be a leader.

As a nurse, you are a leader. I can tell you that now. You are doing everything you can to be that role model for your patient so that they listen to your advice, they be their best selves, they get better, and they carry on. That's what a leader is. You're encouraging other people to be their best selves, follow your suit, and just go out there and smash it.

But in some way, you will absolutely be showing those leadership qualities. And this whole section just talks about that. It talks about leadership, how we can improve and influence the work environment. Because if we're all leaders doing really good things, we're all going to benefit from that, and especially our patients.

Developing A Retention Improvement Plan

But then we're coming out of guidance and we're going into developing your retention improvement plan.

So you're going to start off with gathering all the data. What does the data tell you about your retention, your staffing, what's going wrong, what's going right, what's going amazing? You're getting all of that through speaking to your staff. You're doing surveys, interviews maybe. Whatever data you can gather from the team to say, okay, what's going on? How do we improve it?

Then you've got your second part, which was the guidance. Okay, let's put some things in place possibly. Let's look at doing all these things that we're going to make the workplace a really good, motivating place that makes our staff feel valued and amazing and they're going to want to come to work all day and all that jazz.

So then you're going to develop your retention improvement plan. How are we physically going to do this? You're going to put it into writing. You're going to say, "This is our retention plan. This is going out there. This is what we're going to try, test, and see what happens."

Making These Improvements

Then you're going to make your improvement change. So what is that retention plan that you've just created? You have to put it into place. And some people really don't like change, and this is sometimes a bit of a challenge. So please have a look at different change model frameworks. This is something I looked at actually in my dissertation when I was writing it.

So there's a number of good models out there to have a look. And the best one that I found, I can't fully remember what it was called, but it was talking about when you are implementing change, you can't go in all guns blazing.

You have to slowly feed it in bit by bit in different stages, and that is the best way to create change. You can't go in just, "Right, we're doing all this. That's it. No one's got a say." It's bit by bit, making your team feel included and valued and part of the change rather than, "You will change. You're doing it now." It's the way you do it.

Here you go. They've even provided you an action plan for you. So you can put your topic, your action. Who's going to own this? So who's going to be the one that's looking at it, reviewing it? Because someone needs to be the owner of this plan of action. The timescale you want to put it in place. The next steps to take, so what you're going to do, when are you going to review it? And success criteria. So how do you manage success if this is successful?

As employees, we have to look after each other. We have to be kind. We have to be considerate to our colleagues. We have to help train new staff.

Evaluating Your Retention Improvements

And then you have to evaluate it. Like I said earlier, it's a full loop circle. It's a cycle. So you're going to come back and evaluate, what is the outcome of what you've put in place? Have you improved retention? Is going to be your goal.

Have you improved retention? If you've improved retention, fantastic. How do we keep doing what we're doing? If there's any issues, then you can say, okay, we've got these issues. Now we'll put in a new plan of action. What are we going to do now? What are the next steps to take? Now we've reviewed it, we've found out this doesn't work so well, how can we improve it? And then you put a new plan of action in place and then you're going to come all the way around to evaluating it again.

And that is the end of the NHS Employers implementation of the retention plan toolkit for line managers and employers.

So just a quick summary of that first section for employers. Look after your staff, listen to your staff is the biggest advice I can give. Listen to what they want and what they need and try and work with them to implement the change that you would like to see to help retain your staff. Looking after the physical and the mental wellbeing in a holistic way is going to make a big, big difference.

What Can Employees Do To Improve Retention?

So this brief section, I'm going to try and keep it brief for you, is all about employees. Because we can't just rely on our managers to just do everything, and we just sit back and just do nothing.

As employees, we have to look after each other. We have to be kind. We have to be considerate to our colleagues. We have to help train new staff. We can't be that person that just sits at a nurse station, for example, and doesn't help and says, "Sorry, they're not my patients." That's not okay, and you are going to be a big, big problem in helping to retain the rest of the staff if that's the sort of person that you are. I'm hoping nobody here is that sort of person. That we all help support each other and help in times of need when it's needed.

And not only that, if you see something and you're thinking, this doesn't look right, or this doesn't feel right, or this could be done a different way, or you've seen something out there and you think, oh my God, they're doing an amazing thing, don't be afraid to take that to your manager, to your seniors in charge, whoever it is, and say, "This could work for us." And try and put it in place yourself.

Just go and fish out the good stuff and bring it back to your workplace because there's no point in reinventing the wheel. If there's something working out there that's doing amazing, put it in place in your workplace. Don't make it hard for yourselves.

Online Resources

And there is, you'll be glad to know, there is an amazing, amazing website. There's a whole team of ambassadors as part of that website as well. It's called the Fab Academy or the Academy of Fab Stuff, also known as, and the website is called

So this is a great, great, great, great website that I am a part of, that I don't do enough for unfortunately, just because life just got so, so busy. But I used to do a lot and a lot of tweets and being part of the Fab Change and stuff like that. But if you go onto their website, this is what it looks like, if you can see that.

So this is the website. They're all over social media as well. Let me just find the social media handles for you, hang on. So if you search @FabNHSstuff, you'll find them on Twitter. They're also on Facebook as well, The Academy Of Fabulous NHS Stuff. So have a look on social media for them. They are fantastic.

They share, what I was just saying, they share the good stuff that's happening out there so that other people can go and see what the good stuff is and implement it in their workplace.

But also you can share your ideas. If you've put something in place and you think this has worked, this is amazing, this has been a massive benefit for the staff, for the team, for the patients, go on and share it online so that other people can see it.

Share Your Top Tips

So I'm going to stop there. I think I've spoken way too much on retention. I hope I've given you something in this to think about and put into place.

If you've got something that you've done already, please comment below. Or if you've taken an idea from this video and you think, yeah, I'm going to do this from this video, comment below, let us know what's going on. Because we'd love to see what's happening and how you're all doing out there.

But for now, thank you so much for watching and I'll see you next time.

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About the author

I am a Registered Nurse with over 12 years healthcare experience including: elderly care, orthopaedics, sexual health / family planning, qualified GP nurse, transgender healthcare and now in my new role as an assistant lecturer (as of Nov 2022). I believe that nursing gets a lot of bad press, so I create blogs and vlogs to help anyone considering their nursing career and to create positivity surrounding our profession as I'm so passionate about nursing.

    • Matt Farrah
    • Richard Gill
  • 1
  • 922

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    • Matt Farrah 6 months ago
      Matt Farrah
    • Matt Farrah
      6 months ago

      Exactly! Yes! Thanks Claire. Ditto all of that.