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3 key people challenges in the health and social care industry – and how to fix them

The health and social care industry faces unique people challenges, with caregivers required to be both business-savvy while maintaining a caring, human side when interacting with residents and patients.

That skillset is difficult to acquire, and the industry is struggling to keep up – with an estimated 480,000 more posts needing to be filled by 2035 in the social care sector alone.

Here, we’ll discuss the key people challenges in the health and social care industry, as well as strategies for addressing them in order to create a successful work environment that motivates employees.

The key people challenges facing the health and social care industry:

1. Attracting the right people

One of the significant challenges that HR professionals face in the health and social care industry is attracting talent. The industry is stereotyped as one with long hours and low pay, despite the training and qualifications needed.

Recruiting and the right people for your health and social care workforce can be a challenge but, with the right strategies in place, it doesn’t have to be.

  • Develop an attractive recruitment process. It’s important to have an efficient and effective recruitment process that is tailored to the needs of your organisation. In addition, make sure there are opportunities for people to apply in-person, as well as online.
  • Leverage social media to attract potential candidates. Social media can be a powerful tool for recruiting and retaining the best talent. Utilise platforms such as LinkedIn to build relationships with potential candidates and promote job openings.
  • Offer competitive compensation packages. Offering competitive pay is essential in order to attract and retain qualified individuals. Consider offering incentive-based compensation plans or bonuses to create an attractive package that will entice employees to stay with your organisation.
  • Create a positive work environment. Implementing initiatives that will increase employee engagement and satisfaction can go a long way in creating a successful workforce. Consider introducing activities such as team building exercises or offering flexible work hours to foster camaraderie and boost morale.

2. Keeping hold of existing employees

According to a report by Gallup, the health and social care industry has one of the lowest employee engagement levels – with only 32% of employees reporting feeling engaged at work. Disengaged employees are unhappy, unproductive, likely to be looking for a job somewhere else, and may even negatively affect their colleagues.

Organisations in the health and social care sector may also have diverse workforces, with employees from different cultures and backgrounds. This can create challenges related to communication, cultural differences, and managing expectations – which can further impact engagement levels.

Employee engagement is clearly linked to recruitment, and should be the number one focus for HR leaders who want to keep hold of current employees.

The bottom line is that regularly listening to your employees, understanding their needs, and acting on their feedback, is the only way to guarantee improvements in engagement – and to retain your top talent.

3. Employee health and safety

The health and safety of employees should be a top priority for all health and social care organisations. A lot of caring roles involve physical, mental and emotional hazards. Stretched workforces often lead to slips in safety procedures – leading to a rise in accidents, lower CQC ratings, higher staff turnover and increased costs.

HR professionals are, therefore, responsible for creating safer workplaces and developing safety protocols and policies that ensure employees’ wellbeing.

  • Provide adequate safety training. Employees should be trained on proper safety procedures and given refresher courses on a regular basis.
  • Conduct regular risk assessments. This will help to identify potential hazards and risks and develop appropriate controls to mitigate them.
  • Encourage employees to speak up about safety concerns. It’s important people feel comfortable raising any concerns they have about safety, without fear of reprisal.
  • Monitor and review safety performance. This will help identify any areas where improvements are needed and ensure the organisation is continuously improving its safety performance.

Understanding what employees really think about your organisation

Understanding what your employees think about your company is crucial – and that’s where employee surveys come in. They can provide valuable insights into how your people perceive their work environment, job satisfaction, and opportunities for growth, and help health and social care organisations to identify problem areas and address them in a timely manner.

High levels of employee engagement translate to increased productivity, higher customer satisfaction, and lower turnover rates. Through employee surveys, employers can identify areas that may be causing low engagement levels and take corrective measures to address them.

Employee surveys also provide a platform for employees to voice their concerns and provide feedback on their work environment – including things like the effectiveness of training and development programmes, which we’ve already highlighted as a focus area.

By listening to their employees’ feedback – and acting on it – health and social care organisations can identify workplace issues and implement changes or interventions that lead to a better work environment. Addressing workplace issues can enhance employee satisfaction and boost morale.

High employee turnover can significantly impact a health and social care organisation’s performance and customer satisfaction. Employee surveys can identify factors contributing to high turnover rates, such as inadequate compensation, lack of opportunities for growth, or a poor work environment. By addressing these factors, health and social care organisations can reduce turnover rates and retain top talent.

Finally, as long as your organisation makes a clear effort to address the feedback received, employee surveys can strengthen communication and trust between employees and their employers. By seeking their employees’ feedback and responding to their concerns, health and social care organisations can enhance their employees’ sense of value and investment in the company – which, in turn, can improve loyalty and retention.

Why should you focus on employee engagement?

Employee engagement is a deep rational and emotional connection to your organisation and the work you do. It’s the outcome of a great employee experience, and starts during the recruitment process – before you even turn up for your first day.

Engagement is important because it unlocks the potential of each individual, their motivation, and maximises their discretionary effort. If they’re engaged enough to become advocates for your organisation, engagement can live on long after employees leave – which has a tangible impact on commercial outcomes for your business.

You can read more about how to reach and engage employees in health and social care industry in our article here, and how to improve employee engagement here.


WorkBuzz helps you can gather real-time feedback from your people through regular employee listening, via our simple, flexible, customisable employee engagement platform. We also offer expert consultancy through our People Science team, so you can action the feedback in a way that drives positive change across your organisation.

Our team comes with a wealth of experience supporting health and social care industry organisations of all sizes, including Home Instead, Right at Home, Priory and more.

If you’re looking for more advice on how to support your organisation during these challenging times, don’t hesitate to book a demo today. We can help you devise and implement strategies that will ensure the continued success of your business in the years to come.

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