The Trust faced the same challenges as many in the health sector – recruitment and retention. It has several professional areas that are particularly difficult to fill, such as radiography and pharmacy, but nursing is their most pressing.
While the Trust hosts open days and has started using social media as a recruitment tool, a national shortage of nurses has made it necessary to work with agencies to look overseas to recruit workers in Ireland, Europe, and the Philippines. Developing language skills and assisting visa applications can take longer than nine months, from first contact to start date.
This provided a long-term solution. In the short-term, the Trust’s wards and departments were challenged with retaining key members of staff. In response, the trust partnered with Perkbox as a tool to drive recruitment and retention through employee engagement.
Royal Berkshire launched the ‘What Matters’ engagement programme alongside Perkbox. The first stage of which engaged 3000 employees to explore the culture of the organisation and its values. Stage two is set to introduce behavioural frameworks based on this information.
Communication is key. With wards and departments facing extreme busyness, its employees don’t always see the recruitment drive. The organisation needs to let its existing employees know it’s recruiting new ones as a matter of urgency.
The Trust formed an operational retention group made of managers across the organisation. Each manager is tasked with delivering a strategy on how they will increase retention in their wards.
Solutions vary from ensuring rosters are published in advance, to encouraging employees to take regular breaks. In addition, the trust is limiting how often it moves its staff between wards, which is an unpopular yet occasionally necessary contingency for staff shortages.
Support in life
Funding shortages mean the NHS is unable to provide many employee benefits, which poses challenges for both recruitment and retention.
Perkbox helps the Trust’s employees in life with hundreds of perks, shopping discounts and freebies, as well as fitness classes, gym discounts, and a 24/7 helpline – all supporting their physical, emotional and financial wellbeing.
Launching Perkbox has sent a buzz around the Trust, as explains Suzanne Emerson-Dam, Deputy Director of Workforce and Organisation Development, “A few people in my team registered straight away, effectively championing it to the wider organisation.”
Suzanne is also a big advocate, adding, “Our staff don’t often get something for nothing, so they see it as really positive – especially late in the year when everyone feels the pinch.”
With the help of its recruitment agency, the Trust has made over 150 job offers in the Philippines.
Perkbox now plays a pivotal role in the Trust’s employee value proposition for both overseas and UK recruits.
Retention and support in life
Due to shortfalls in funding, the NHS has capped pay increases for a number of years. When taken into account with inflation, NHS workers effectively take a pay cut every year. The result of this, in addition to the physically and mentally demanding nature of work, is high employee churn.
“Being able to offer discounts from shops we all use is great,” says Suzanne. “I’m really pleased with the results, especially the number of people who have registered and taken benefits.”