Trends in health and social care recruitment

Trends in health and social care recruitment

It’s not news that the pandemic has put massive strain on health and social care nationally. Demand for services has increased dramatically, meaning a strong workforce has never been more necessary.

The Health Foundation reported in October that over a million more health and social care staff will be needed by 2031, comprising nearly half a million recruited to meet demand and to recover from the pandemic, as well as over 600,000 new staff needed to improve services.

On top of that, recruiting and retaining health and social care staff is posing a challenge. In 2020/21, there were around 105,000 vacancies at any given moment and staff turnover was 34.4%.

This means in the health and social care sector we’re set for a challenging decade… But what are the current recruitment trends for the health and social care sector?

Hays’ 2021 report, ‘Hays Social Care Salary & Recruiting Trends: Hiring Increases Amid Acute Skills Shortages’, found that 77% of social care employers experienced some form of skills shortages in 2020. What’s more, almost half experienced moderate or extreme skills shortages and two thirds of employers said they struggled to recruit permanent staff, with one half experiencing challenges recruiting temporary workers too. The skills shortage seems to be having a big impact on staff morale, with 30% of employers stating that staff are taking time off for stress – double the UK average.

But why is recruitment posing such a challenge for health and social care? The biggest reason seems to be negative perceptions of the sector, with 45% of employers pitching that as a top concern.

Other key reasons for staff moving on from their roles in health and social care are worries over job security and concerns over career development. On top of that, 40% of employees would be tempted to move onto a new role in exchange for a better salary or benefits package.

But a big factor in employee decision making appears to be work-life balance. The past two years in the midst of a pandemic have shifted the balance for many of us, not least those working on the front line, with 37% – compared to 29% nationally – of professionals saying their work-life balance has had been negatively impacted by the pandemic. This seems to be a dealbreaker for many – one third of professionals say it’s the most important factor in considering a position.

Another important trend in health and social care is the gender divide. Statistics show that currently an enormously high percentage of health and social care workers are women – this is nearly 80% of the non-medical health service staff and 80% of all adult social care staff.

This is an incredibly high percentage, taking into account that health and social care sectors employ one in ten of the country’s workforce. In fact, 20% of all jobs held by women in the UK in 2020 were in health and social work.

Despite this though, women are still in the minority in senior roles. Work has gone into addressing this and the proportion of women on trust boards rose from 39% to 45% between 2017 and 2020. However, while this 45:55 ratio might appear to be a decent balance, it isn’t yet proportionate.

So why aren’t men taking on the lower level roles?

Well, this is a complex issue. A big factor appears to be traditional parenthood roles, with women generally still taking a leading role in home and family responsibilities. A study conducted by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that women in heterosexual relationships were more likely to give up work when becoming parents, regardless of their earnings. This is further proof of the need for health and social care staff to get that much-needed work-life balance.

A study also found that 94% of men aged between 16 and 25 agreed that care was a suitable career choice for men, however 25% said that they wouldn’t consider becoming a carer, with one third saying they didn’t know enough about the role.

What does the future of recruitment look like?

The sector certainly has a long journey ahead, with recruitment challenges due to Covid-19 only just beginning. Health and social care are dealing with a significant skills gap, high staff turnover and low morale, meaning that recruiting over a million new staff over the next decade to respond to the pandemic is not going to be a smooth ride.

The priorities of staff are shifting, with priorities put on work-life balance and remuneration, so this should definitely be a key consideration for any new hires.

But Reed Screening are here to help ease the workload for your future recruitment. We provide screening packages designed specifically for the needs of the health and social care industry, with packages pre-tailored to mitigate risk when hiring for popular roles such as support roles, qualified social care roles and clinical roles with professional registration. We cover everything from permanent hires and fixed term contractors, to temporary/agency supply chain.

We can assure you that all your workers are screened to the high standard you need to ensure that your organisation is operating safely, efficiently and with appropriately qualified, responsible, and reliable staff.

Get in touch today to see how we can help you get your next hires through the door.