How leaders create workplace cultures that retain social care staff

10 Jun 2024

4 min read


  • Culture and diversity
  • Leadership
  • Retention

We discuss how leadership impacts culture and how this can create an environment that leads to better staff retention.

Workplace culture refers to the collective values, beliefs, behaviours, and norms that define an organisation and shape the way employees work together. It includes the organisation's ethics, communication, and the general atmosphere within the workplace. A positive workplace culture fosters support, inclusivity, honesty, progress and motivation, leading to more satisfaction, productivity and loyalty, while a negative culture can result in dissatisfaction and higher turnover.

Our research into the reasons why care workers choose to leave their roles showed that 30% of people leaving a social care job cited poor workplace culture or communication as one of their primary reasons for leaving. Younger workers (18 – 44) were significantly more likely to leave due to workplace culture concerns. This highlights the importance of culture within the social care sector if we want to retain staff, particularly those within younger demographics.

Leaders play a pivotal role in shaping and influencing workplace culture by setting the tone, standards, and expectations for behaviour and performance within the organisation. Effective leaders demonstrate emotional intelligence, authenticity, and openness, fostering an environment of trust, respect and safety.

In the social care sector, registered managers are often one of the most influential leaders within their organisation in terms of shaping workplace culture. Their leadership style directly influences the morale and motivation of care staff. Social care is a challenging job that can result in emotional pressure for those delivering front-line support – making sure that registered managers are creating an open, progressive and supportive environment is crucial if we want staff to feel reassured and confident when they’re delivering support.

Effective social care leaders prioritise employee health and wellbeing through actions and attitudes that promote work-life balance, regular breaks and flexibility. By implementing policies that provide mental health resources, wellness programmes, and promote diversity and inclusion, leaders create a supportive atmosphere that reduces stress and burnout.

Not only do registered managers decide on the practical measures that shape a workplace’s culture, such as through processes and policies, but they also shape it through their behaviour, communication and interactions with care staff. Team members are likely to adopt and share the style and values of those who lead their organisation, making leadership style a crucial consideration if you want to ensure that your team treat each other well.

A culture that makes staff feel valued can only be achieved if leadership seek to recognise and reward staff for their contributions. A celebratory culture is one that promotes employee engagement and retention by acknowledging important moments or achievements of individuals and the team. This recognition can take various forms, such as verbal praise, awards, public acknowledgments, or small gestures like thank-you notes.

A progressive culture is one that is transparent with regards to how staff can develop and progress in their career and skills. This ensures that staff feel valued and supported and is typically achieved through honest communication of continuous professional development opportunities. A progressive culture is also one that puts its focus on ensuring that errors or poor performance are seen as opportunities for improvement, rather than opportunities to blame or undermine people or teams.

Openness and transparency are important traits in any leader as it ensures that staff feel informed and valued, particularly when it comes to decisions that impact them or the wider business. Not only are staff who feel valued more likely to perform well and remain with your organisation, but this transparency encourages honesty from your staff which can often benefit the organisation through their valuable feedback. Ensuring that leadership is approachable and steers away from overly hierarchical communication structures is critical if you want to foster this kind of open culture.

Find out more about how to support leaders and managers, develop a positive culture and retain staff.

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