Care UK has been named as one of the country’s top employers in this year’s Employee Experience Awards, which recognise employers delivering an exceptional employee experience, including promoting continuous improvement, learning and personal development.
The care home division of the Colchester-based provider took the title in the sector specific category Government and Public Services. The winners of the awards were selected by a panel of independent judges made up of customer and financial professionals, following a presentation by the finalists in front of the panel.
Care UK, one of the country’s leading social care specialists, providing support for more than 7,000 residents in 113 care homes, took the top slot in the category for differentiating Care UK in a competitive market to attract, retain and nurture the right people, to improve service and performance.
HR Director Leah Queripel said: “We were all delighted to have won the award, coming as it has from two years of concerted creativity, planning and work. By 2035, 1.7m UK residents will be aged over 85 and many will require the type of support only residential care can offer. We subscribe wholeheartedly to the view that, to deliver the best, kindest and most compassionate service possible in our care homes, we need to attract and retain the very finest team members with the right outlook and attitude to this important role. Our challenge was to ensure we could attract the best candidates and develop them into sector leaders of the future. ”
The HR team was faced with recruitment challenges including low brand awareness, negative pre‐conceptions about the care sector in general and the need to attract sufficient numbers of strong candidates in a market that is both crowded and highly competitive.
Leah explained: “If you team these issues with national shortages of nurses, and combine them with a high turnover of current employees across the care sector, you realise that a different approach to how you recruit and develop employees is needed.
“To attract the right people and re-ignite the career ambitions of current colleagues, we had to create a brand that appealed to people’s caring natures as well as their work needs. We asked employee engagement specialists Dragonfish to survey our employees to learn their views on why they join, and stay, with Care UK.”
The results revealed the needs, aspirations and beliefs of those who are, or would make, great carers. Leah said: “This allowed us to tailor our brand, advertising and campaigns to groups of people, whether they were looking to work part-time, in the middle of their careers, or if they were looking for a new challenge and career advancement.
“Our new carers’ website mirrored the brand and reflected the feedback, as well as making it simpler to apply for roles and giving information to current carers. At the same time, our recruitment teams were supported with tailored on and off line campaigns that spoke to would-be apprentices or professional carers.”
The strategy’s results were impressive. Leah said: “We saw an exceptional rise on our monthly applications rate. In five months it jumped by almost 330 per cent from our previous average of 3,500 applications per month. We also saw direct nursing applications increase and employee engagement improves by ten per cent.”
Apprenticeships became an area of focus, as training new carers and putting them on Care UK’s development path has long-term benefits for both the team member and the company. Leah said: “We were very excited when, during the first two weeks, we achieved 3,000 applications. When teamed with the significant increases in retention, it was a very clear sign the approach was working, putting us in a strong position for future growth. This award has come as the welcome reward for all our employees who play such an important role within our homes.”