Social Care Column with Mark Topps: 5 Tips to Boost Morale & Motivate Social Care Staff
The care sector has hit a point where recruitment is at crisis point, meaning our staff are having to work more overtime shifts than ever before. This increase in hours, combined with working throughout the pandemic is leading to large numbers of care workers being signed off with stress and burnout.
I’m part of a number of the care worker groups and forums, and the conversations within these often lead to how care staff feel undervalued, with many feeling unmotivated to go to work, especially with mandatory vaccine deadline looming. So, I want to share with you my tips for boosting morale and keeping teams motivated.
My top tips
1. Promote communication
The biggest and easiest thing you can do to motivate staff is to ensure you have effective communication systems in place, so that your teams know what the goals/vision are of your organisation and themselves. Communication needs to be a two-way process and as things change or happen, it’s crucial that this is maintained.
If you’re a manager leading your teams, it’s important that you listen to any ideas, opinions and/or feedback that’s given as it can help to shape the way that your team operates, have a positive impact on the business and allows for problem solving to take place.
The pandemic has highlighted that there are many ways in which we can communicate with our staff, including team meetings, WhatsApp, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, handovers, supervisions – the list is endless! But it’s important to find out what works for you and your team as this will help them feel involved in both the business and day-to-day operations, which in turn will help motivate them.
2. Encourage teamwork
The best groups I’ve managed and worked with are the ones where you feel part of team, with everyone working together. Encouraging teamwork has been proven to promote productivity as employees feel less isolated and more engaged with the tasks in hand. For some care services such as homecare this is harder to achieve due to lone working, but you can ensure you have regular team bonding days.
I know people will be reading this thinking ‘I hate team bonding,’ but it doesn’t have to be an exercise. Remember, the purpose is for your teams to get together and to get to know one another, and it can be as simple as grabbing some pizza, doing an escape room or heading to the local pub for a drink.
One thing I did when managing a home care company was to have the staff plan/fill in a team building activity for the month so it was led by them. You can also put ideas in a bowl and pick one at random every month.
“The best teams are the ones that feel more like a family than a team!”
3. Support development
This is key to motivating staff to stay with the organisation and to progress within their careers. Be sure to discuss current and future training needs, both personal and work-related, in one-to-ones and appraisals.
One of the best motivators is helping employees to achieve personal goals, such as learning a new skill. Try to offer training in specific areas (e.g., dementia, stroke awareness, autism) and encourage wider recognised qualifications within the health and social care sector.
It can also be helpful to introduce a mentoring system where staff can learn about other roles within the organisation through shadowing and mentoring.
4. Create a work-life balance
This is something we all strive towards and something many of us never reach – I know I haven’t yet! But I can safely say that all the teams I’ve managed have had great work-life balances and the key to this is:
- Effective rota management
- Knowing the shift requirements of the staff.
To begin this process, you need to understand the preferred shift pattern of your staff and then work towards achieving this. It’s hard when rotas need to be covered and you have staff that prefer to work early shifts or late shifts, but it’s crucial to try and stick to their preferences where possible. This method saw my teams have a reduction in sick days and the number of shifts swapped and above all, gave my team the shift patterns they wanted.
The next step is to then ensure rotas are completed and shared with your teams with plenty of notice – I’d always aim for 4-6 months in advance. I’d let staff know that I’d do everything I could to get them into the rota pattern they sought, but in return, I’d roll rotas out weeks ahead and wouldn’t change them for bank holidays, with the option to swap amongst themselves. Another positive of having rotas in advance combined with shift patterns that staff want is that you can recruit for any vacant shifts.
Some staff teams have emails and devices as part of their role and it’s crucial that they know that there’s no expectation to respond to messages and emails outside of their working hours.
5. Say thank you and reward staff
Do you remember being praised and how this made you feel? This is no different for our teams. We must remember to show them that they’re appreciated, acknowledged for doing a great job or going above and beyond, and recognised for the impact they’ve made on the people they’re supporting.
This can be done in a number of ways, including:
- Personalised thank you letters
- Buying cakes/doughnuts
- Sending out gifts like Easter eggs, Christmas cards, selection boxes, birthday cards etc.
“From experience, unexpected gifts and recognition went the furthest and made the teams think that they were being thought of.”
Keep the motivation going
There are so many other things that can be done to boost morale and/or motivate staff and I hope the above gives you some ideas of what you can do. As always, I’m happy to be contacted if you wish to discuss this further. You can reach out to me on LinkedIn or Twitter.
Remember, it’s just as important to look after your teams, as it is the individuals in your care.