Employee turnover in aged care: what can be done?


The team at an aged care facility are the backbone of the organisation – they are the ones who are on the floor with the elderly residents, ensuring that they receive quality care. 

So it’s important to get the staffing right. 

However, the recruitment and retention of the aged care workforce remains one the main challenges faced by the sector, with an estimated 23 per cent of aged care workers intending to resign or leave for jobs outside of aged care according to the HESTA ‘transforming aged care’ report. 

Getting to know turnover

So why do staff leave? There could be a number of reasons why an organisation has turnover. 

For example, the person may find they aren’t suited for aged care. 

Or they find wages do not motivate them enough, or the stress of the workload pushes them to look for work in other fields.

When team members leave, what HR most commonly looks at is the turnover rate – but that does not always tell the full story. 

For example, turnover does not account for employee attrition

Employee turnover and employee attrition both occur when an employee leaves the company. 

The difference between the two is that when turnover occurs, the company seeks someone to replace the employee.

While attrition is when the employee leaves and the company chooses to make the role redundant.

And what people may not realise is that turnover rate does not include attrition.  

So is all turnover bad? 

Not necessarily. There is such a thing as “healthy turnover”.

Leavers can be healthy for the growth of a company and also for the individual in terms of career progression. 

For the company, new hires can bring new ideas, new experiences and new ways of doing things.

It’s true that recruiting can be a costly process – both in terms of time and resources. 

Organisations need to make sure new employees are properly onboarded, developed and set to maintain job satisfaction throughout their time with the company.

So when an employee leaves voluntarily, it can seem as if the resources that have been invested in them have been wasted. 

This is when it’s good to look at something called the “stability rate”

This calculates the proportion of the workforce employed for a specified period and measures how well the organisation is keeping the experienced staff – typically those who have been with them for more than a year.

By looking at the stability rate, it focuses specifically on “dysfunctional turnover” – the bad kind of turnover. 

Dysfunctional turnover is when many employees leave the business before they have justified the organisation’s investment into them in terms of L&D, onboarding, training, recruitment costs etc.

It can be quite costly to replace them, thus potentially crippling your business. 

Since there are two kinds of turnover – healthy and dysfunctional – looking at the stability rate can help you focus on the healthy turnover. 

Why should companies act now?

Turnover is contagious. 

There is something called the “turnover contagion effect”, which looks at the likelihood of someone leaving the business because of the actions of their colleagues.

A person’s job satisfaction can be called into question if they sense that others who are similarly skilled are questioning their commitment to the organisation.

And when a key employee or a top performer leaves, it may also trigger other employees to consider leaving too – which is a loss that is detrimental to the overall workplace. 

However, this is an opportunity for the organisation to re-evaluate the relationship it has with their employees. 

If you don’t tackle it when it starts happening, then there is the risk it will continue and create a ‘revolving door’ effect of employees continuously leaving.

What can be done?

To improve an organisation’s workforce, the most effective thing that could be done is to invest in the employees themselves.

By providing training and growth opportunities, giving managers the ability to support their workers and maintaining a culture of clear, open, and direct communication – organisations can actually prevent turnover.

So it’s important to get these right. This can be done a number of ways, such as;

Increasing employee engagement

Employee engagement is based on trust, integrity, two way commitment and communication.

There are a number of things you can do to improve employee engagement in an organisation;

  • Provide opportunities for growth
  • Foster meaningful work for all employees 
  • Find ways to recognise and reward employees
  • Measure and capture employee feedback and sentiment on a real-time

Improving company culture

“Company culture”, simply put, can be thought of as the way your organisation thinks, feels and acts in order to be successful and go about its business.

It’s the values and beliefs that determine, as well as improve, the quality of care and quality of life for the residents.

If there is a toxic company culture it can prompt people to leave, and thus creating the ‘revolving door’ effect.

There are ways that an organisation can improve their company culture, such as;

●      Embracing transparency

●      Cultivating strong coworker relationships

●      Embracing and inspire employee autonomy

●      Practicing flexibility

●      Promoting a team atmosphere

Preventing turnover to begin with

Implementing retention strategies is not all companies can do to reduce their turnover. Try to figure out what makes people stay with your business and then hire more people like them. 

Before tackling an issue, it is important to fully understand its impact on the business. Whilst most companies don’t measure the financial impact of turnover, the ones that do are well placed to solve it. 

Did you know that only three out of 10 businesses actually calculate their turnover cost?

So the challenge is to figure out what makes people stay with your business and then hire more people like them.

Using behavioural insights and assessment tools, organisations can understand who in the applicant pool is likely to stay with the business.

Attracting and retaining quality workers needs planning and investment aged care providers so that they can deliver a competitive business into the future. Getting it right today, for a better workforce tomorrow. 

Talk to us about our ‘CareID’ pilot in partnership with TalentIdentify and find how you can recruit and retain right fit people for your aged care organisation.