John Walsh, OD lead and freedom to speak up (FTSU) guardian at Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust (LCHT) discusses how a positive FTSU culture is instrumental in supporting the retention of staff.
In our health and care system we have a major problem with staff retention. There are many teams and services seeing good colleagues leave or retire. It’s certainly a loss of skill, experience and expertise. It's also the loss of many good human beings - those people who encourage and support us. People who make teams good to work in.
“It’s also a loss of many good human beings – those people who encourage us and support us. People who make teams good to work in.”
At LCHT, the work of the FTSU guardian has acted as a conduit for staff to share their thoughts about retention and we have seen staff deciding to stay because of the conversations, flexibility and support offered. In one service several clinicians decided to stay, when four of these staff had raised concerns. These successful retentions were all results of a certain way of working. A way we might define as 'conscious retention work'.
Conscious retention is essentially a conscious commitment to offer conversations to staff who are leaving to support retention where possible. It is about making retention as fundamental as recruitment.
There are three key elements to this work:
A way to be heard
We need channels for staff to share what is happening to them. In our trust we have managers, HR and heads of service speaking about retention and offering conversations, as well as FTSU guardians, the race equality network, easy access to directors and our staff side/trade unions.
Leadership as dialogue
This is very different from a model of leadership by command; where leaders command and top-down approaches dominate. Dialogical approaches mean listening to understand, working with empathy and creating a space where different and dissenting voices can be heard.
It means an openness to hear and change things if needed. The areas where retention work has been successful have been where staff felt heard and validated and where a dialogue-seeking solution is offered.
Moving our systems
This is where we seek to flexibly move and shape our systems to meet staff needs. Sometimes this isn't possible, but often we don't see how it is possible until we really listen and engage. This means flexibility and an open mind around the issues which staff raise. And once these issues have been raised, actively seeking to find solutions to support staff and create a culture of positivity.
“The areas where retention work has been successful, have been where staff felt heard and validated and where a dialogue-seeking solution is offered.”
These shifts promise not only better retention outcomes, but also change people's experience of leadership and work. They allow the values and behaviours written on all our walls to come alive and live in our workplaces. They also sow the seeds of the best culture for staff, and best care for those who use our services and those who care for them.
So the next time someone tells you they are thinking about leaving, why not consider pointing them in the direction of your local freedom to speak up guardian? You never know, what follows from that conversation may make all the difference in them deciding to stay.
For further information on the work in this blog, please contact: email@example.com.