Over 60% of support workers in the UK adult social care sector feel they are not listened to by their managers and don’t feel appreciated for the work they do a recent survey has found.

The survey was carried out to understand the reasons behind the high levels of staff turnover experienced by care services and to get some qualitative insight from those in the roles that experience the highest levels of turnover.

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It’s well known that care workers in general and particularly support workers are considered underpaid for the critical role they play in the wellbeing and safeguarding of residents. However, this latest survey highlights that low pay is not the only reason for support workers leaving for new pastures.

Unsurprisingly, 87% of all support workers surveyed said they chose to work in care because they love helping people and 64% said their favourite part of the job is the residents, so passion and motivation for the job is not in short supply. Despite this clear enthusiasm for the type of work though, it seems that working environment and management style are playing a big part in causing morale to drop.

These findings are likely to be alarming and frustrating in equal measure for some home managers, whose own heavy workload could be a key reason for not spotting and addressing problems with their front-line staff. In some cases it may the home owner, not the care home manager that dictates working practices, leaving the manager with little choice but to accept the high turnover of staff.

Often times, it’s easier to hire new team members than change working practices to keep existing team members motivated. Not only is this a false economy due to the cost of recruiting and training new staff, it can also lead to additional problems with continuity of care and consistency of care evidencing, both of which can have a detrimental impact on a service’s CQC rating, It’s no coincidence that outstanding rating services tend to have established long-serving care teams and demonstrate they are well-led by inviting feedback from front line staff and showing how they act upon it.

In other industries, managers tend to respond to issues with motivation by offering pay rises and generous bonuses. It’s an effective temporary fix but unless the root cause of the problem is addressed, the motivation issues will surface again further down the line.

Throwing money at the problem isn’t an option available to most care service managers due to the tight budgetary constraints they work under, which places the emphasis firmly on recognising the workload that individual team members are delivering in and rewarding that effort accordingly, but not necessarily financially.

When asked what would make their job better, 42% of those surveyed stated that a reward system that recognises the effort they put in, with a further 33% adding that a manager who listens to feedback from support workers would improve their working life.

The quotes below are examples of responses given by support workers when asked what they would do differently if they managed the service they work in:

I would listen to my staff a lot more and make sure we have a full team working in each shift so that we are able to provide the care needs of each individual resident and have time to sit and talk to residents.”

“Give a lot more praise where due and support”

Appreciate my staff, award them with a bonus, decent pay, listen to my staff and clients, communicate, have regular meetings to air any indifferences The list is endless”

The sentiment was almost unanimous, this despite 24% of all those surveyed saying they love their job and wouldn’t leave for any reason.

Whatever the reason is for support workers feeling unappreciated, it’s clear that these issues are widespread and not exclusive to one type of service.

There are always bad apples in every industry, but for the majority of support workers, the desire and motivation to do the job is apparent and the reasons for doing so are genuine and heartfelt. Looking at these survey results, it seems the key to stemming the tide of staff turnover is to employ systems and/or technology that enables managers to recognise individual's efforts and reward them accordingly, in addition to encouraging feedback and using it as the basis for positive change.

Arquella has published the full results of the survey here.