People move on or change jobs for a number of reasons – personal and professional. Not all of these are within the control of an organisation. This Guide will only focus on the part that can be influenced.
It can be a difficult moment when a staff member leaves a well-established team. Both for the team members and the young people, the departure can be unexpected and bring up a range of emotion.
However, moving on is also a very normal part of life and can sometimes be a response to a demanding or stressful work environment. When supporting young people, practitioners can sometimes be encouraged to place the needs of the service above their own and staying in an otherwise harmful environment. This guide is not intended to discourage individuals from making those decisions, but rather help organisations in creating environments where people would like to stay.
Retention is the other side of recruitment, both equally important in creating consistent practice.
Factors that affect retention are work culture, support, resources, pay, individual circumstances, workload and changes in the organisation. It is important for individuals in an organisation to feel appreciated and be appropriately compensated for their work. Having tea and a space to take a break are equally as important as keeping workloads manageable and creating a consistent organisational culture.
Perhaps ironically, just how retention is crucial for consistency in relationships, in turn organisational consistency leads to retention. While we are able to name factors that contribute to retention, central to all of it a sense of being able to rely on the organisation to provide those things consistently. Reliability and trust enable the staff to plan ahead and feel safe while doing their work.
It can feel like retention is a difficult aspect to improve, because the task seems so big and insurmountable. Often it isn’t within a single person’s control to change pay scales, shift patterns or workloads. However, that does not mean that over time retention cannot be improved.
Two strategies can be used to improve retention: setting milestones and immediate changes. A combination of both is what can create a sense of reliability.
In terms of immediate actions, here are some suggestions:
Relationships are an important part of everyone’s life. For example, everything we learn as children depends on others teaching us. But did you know that good relationships also have an influence on our physical and mental health (Griffith, 2017)? Relationship-based practice combines what we know about childhood development, trauma, resilience, and relationships to promote the best for children and adolescents.
Early life experiences shape our mind and body in ways that we are understanding more and more, especially when these experiences are traumatic. Trauma-informed practice takes this knowledge and creates a holistic framework for practitioners and organisations to create healing and safe spaces and ways of working.
First introductions matter. It matters when, how and where they happen. Many young people speak about transitions are often the most difficult times. In this Guide we explore how transitions can be done from the lens of relational practice.
What do IT systems and relationships have in common? Both usually run in the background and are easily taken for granted. Perhaps surprisingly, IT systems can have a big influence on the quality of relationships and relational practice in general.
When you know your goal you do whatever you need to do to reach it. But what if you defined the goal in the wrong way? In this Guide we explore how the goal affects your actions and how you can make sure that you are measuring your success in the right way. Are you meeting an outcome or are you filling a need?
One of the first things you learn when you start your job is when you need to arrive and when you need to leave. Have you ever considered that the pattern of your work affects the relationships you are building?
Organisational values influence the working culture. They can inspire workers to follow the organisation's mission. However, for them to have an impact they need to be developed with staff and young people.
It is important to keep learning and growing. Recognise your staff’s value and expertise by developing internal training and discussion sessions. Enable staff to learn and train more. Training should not be a tick-box exercise but a place for growth and reflection.
As is often said, hurt people hurt people – it is even more important to consider the flipside: supported people support people. Working with young people and caring for them can be a demanding role, especially in under-resourced and stressful environments. A truly relational organisation also invests in the relationships between managers and staff, creating a positive environment for everyone.
Relationships do not just depend on one person, but rather on a network of people and the culture of an organisation. Sometimes one person who simple ‘doesn’t get it’ can put barriers in the way for an entire team to become less relational. So, it’s easy to see why recruiting the right people is so important to create and maintain a relational organisation.
All relationships take time and effort to build and develop relationships with young people with care experience is no exception, perhaps being even more difficult due to their backgrounds however with the right understanding and approach you could develop a strong and positive connection which will benefit both you and your young person.
Relationships are essential to all parts of life and encompass both our professional and personal lives. They are a vital part of the support networks for our young people and the stronger the relationship the better we can all do our jobs, perhaps making them feel less like a job and more like a vocation. And perhaps more importantly, the stronger the relationship the more important a young person might feel.