Those who work in care understand just what a privilege it is to really support people to live the life they want – to deliver great quality, timely and valuable care and support, and to offer care that respects the dignity and rights of the individual.
It is skilled work. It is hard work. It is work that is both emotionally and physically demanding.
There are many excellent employers out there who do understand just how important recognising and rewarding staff is. In regular surveys of employers by the National Care Forum, members have highlighted the success of schemes which have incorporated some or all of the following approaches:
- Annual bonuses
- Employee referral reward schemes
- Schemes that reward attendance, long service and outstanding acts
- Peer voted schemes to reward individuals or teams
- Discount and loyalty schemes for local services or retail outlets
However, I know there are a number of additional things that great employers are seeking to do, and that we must do more of in the sector as a whole.
Paint the Bigger Picture
We know how hard it is to attract people to work in care. It is important for employers to paint the bigger picture of what individual staff contributions achieve. Great social care is about social justice and human rights. A powerful reward for many is being part of a movement that is transforming not just individual lives, but societal opportunities and expectations for communities that have previously been excluded or ignored. Great employers will tell this story through their external and internal communications, so that people can rightly feel proud of the work that they do.
Flex the opportunity
The sector employs nearly 1.5 million people, many of whom work part time and on variable hours contracts. However, it feels like there is more that we can do to reward staff with flexible working practices. There are, for example, many other comparable sectors where practices such as compressed working hours, greater use of job share across all roles, part year working (employing people only for a fixed number of months), offering greater flexibility of work location, or enabling short term movements are on the table for employees. There are lots of models of flexible working out there and the technology in care is catching up to enable these to be managed seamlessly.
The social care sector prides itself on the delivery of person-centred care, yet there is less evidence of a commitment to person-centred employment. Everyone who works in care is an individual, with their own life and their own commitments outside of work. The approach employers take towards recognition and reward should also concentrate on what is offered to support the person in and out of work. Strategies that recognise the financial pressures, health and wellbeing challenges and caring responsibilities of employees will go a long way towards staff feeling that their employer not only provides care for others but also, very importantly, cares for its own too.
Photo shows the second intake of the NCF Rising Stars progamme pictured with Vic and Amanda Nurse from Carterwood