9 Ways to Drive NHS Recruitment and Retention

NHS worker

The Just R team have been working alongside the NHS for the last 7 years, supporting them in the attraction, onboarding and retention of their workforce. During this time we have worked with over 60 Trusts across the UK, all the while gaining insights and a unique perspective on improvements which can be made.

We know that excellent recruitment and onboarding is key to driving the retention of NHS people. Below is a list of simple to implement ways NHS teams can improve recruitment processes, with the goal of speeding up the time to hire and improving the experience for candidates, forging the foundations of a strong emotional contract between the candidate and recruiting team:

1. Treat candidates as people; people who deserve a high level of customer service. Remember, every candidate has the potential to become an advocate or adversary of your organisation, with the potential to recommend or put people off working for you – whether they end up in your employment or not. We believe this is the most critical area of focus, especially when you consider that people typically tell around 9 others about a bad experience – these people could be your potential employees.

2. Make the application process as simple as possible, with any application forms to be completed digitally – no one has a printer anymore! 60% of candidates will quit the application process if it’s too long or complex.

3. Connect on a human to human basis. This means a phone call or in person, particularly if this is for a hard-to-recruit-to position.

4. Invite candidates to interview as soon as possible and don’t ask them to jump through too many hoops. There are 46,000 nurse vacancies in the NHS alone. Candidates have many options, so don’t risk putting them off through asking them to carry out unnecessary steps.

5. Personalise invitations to ensure a greater chance of turnout at interview: calls, text messages, personalised email reminders the day before, ask for their coffee order or offer a personal tour during the visit. These are steps that will provide greater commitment from the candidate.

Recruitment processes blog, healthcare worked attending to patient

CapitalMidwife, midwives laughing together

6. Get teams involved. People buy people, this helps discover whether teams will gel as well as actively promoting retention. There is no guaranteed formula but we have found that involving teams in the recruitment process will help.

7. Wrap around your existing students! There will be students on wards within your Trust who have not yet made their mind up as to what to do once they qualify. Offer 121 sessions with senior staff, time with preceptorship leads, provide student drop in sessions, etc. Make sure they know they are wanted and will be supported. Fast track the application process for them, no matter what the official process is, it doesn’t make sense. Rules which don’t make sense are the ones which require push back. Your Trust and the NHS cannot afford to lose great students as they’re not made to feel special because of organisational processes.

8. Question the process. Just because something is done in a certain way, if it feels onerous then have the courage to question whether changes can be made.

9. Look for alternative processes already in place elsewhere in your organisation. What is the process for recruitment events or international recruits, is there anything being done there which will benefit business as usual processes?

NHS worker leaning on bannister

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