This site is intended for health professionals only
Guy’s and St Thomas’ (GSTT) NHS foundation trust employs around 15,900 workers and makes about 2,500 staff appointments every year.
In order to ensure the continuity of care to its patients, the trust started looking at how they could have improved their staff retention.
After introducing a new retention strategy in April 2017, the trust managed to lower staff turnover rates and better retain its employees.
Lynn Demeda, deputy director of workforce at GSTT speaks to Healthcare Leader’s reporter Valeria Fiore on how they have done it.
When we started looking at retention, we noticed that we were losing about 1,800 employees a year. Although our turnover rate of 12.6% was lower when compared to 14% in the rest of London, we started asking ourselves what we could do to retain staff.
I think it is challenging to retain staff as it is easy for people (nurses especially) to move around across NHS hospitals and services. On top of that, another point to consider is living costs and how they could influence employee’s choices.
We started by looking at the data. We noticed that the workforce grew by 30% (around 3,600) over the past five years, as there is a constant demand for our services.
By analysing our data, we realised that we could have prevented around 40% (780) of the workforce from leaving.
Factors for leaving
The reasons leavers commonly put forward included:
We then put together a corporate retention group involving a number of stakeholders including nurses, allied health professionals, HR business partners, to look at how we could improve retention.
Since we first introduced this strategy last year, we have seen the voluntary staff turnover rate falling from 12.6% in 2016-17 to 12.4% (around 1950 workers) in 2017-18.
However, the greatest impact of the strategy was clear when we looked at the number of our preventable leavers. About a year ago, the figure was around 40% but now it has come down to 34%, which equates to 663 so we have retained 117 staff so far who would have left.
That is what we want to focus on and I would like to see that figure to be even lower year on year. This would ensure good patient continuity and save us time spent on recruiting, induction and administration work. In business terms, it makes sense.
The challenge is actually getting people to do it. We made the stay discussion format as simple as possible, but it is about making sure that that discussion actually happens and that staff take responsibility to think about their own development. Managers were slightly concerned that they had to have a ‘stay discussion’, because they thought that would have been additional work for them to do on top of the Personal Development Review (PDR) and appraisals. However, the strategy is actually about simplifying the ‘stay discussion’.
It is about making the process as easy as possible for people to:
We are looking at embedding stay conversations across the organisation.
We are planning to work collaboratively on retention in our STP area. If people are leaving, we could keep them local, which means that they might come back to work with us again in the future.
Another area of focus includes what we call our ‘digital employee journey’. We will improve how we are attracting people to our organisation along with making better use of digital tools to keep staff engaged within the organisation. We are also looking at how we can digitally keep in touch with someone who has left, as they may come back to work with us.
Social media is increasing importance in how we will engage our staff in the future. We already have a Facebook page for our nurses, where we publish several ‘a day in the life of…’ nurses working in different wards and publish jobs adverts.
‘I see this as continuous journey and we need to keep momentum up to ensure we continually listen to staff feedback and tailor our retention focus to respond as ‘one size does not fit all’.’
Lynn Demeda is a deputy director of workforce at Guy’s and St Thomas’ (GSTT) NHS foundation trust in Central London.