Healthy competition


By Sarah Sturgess

We often talk about ‘the war for talent’ and this phrase is never truer than in the health and social work sector. Here, competition to attract and retain people is fierce. And, whether you’re flying the universally blue flag of the NHS, or you’re a private care organisation competing to attract people from a shallow talent pool, the ability to stand out from the crowd and articulate your offer is often the winning difference.

We can’t shy away from the fact that right now, times are tough. The Brexit is creating an air of uncertainty that has impacted EU nursing registrations. Worse, the bursaries to train nurses have been replaced by loans. While an ageing population of care workers and an equally ageing population of care users with increasingly complex health care needs, is a healthcare time bomb just waiting to happen. But help is at hand.

We can’t change the current political landscape or influence the impact this has on society. What we are doing at SMRS though, is working with healthcare organisations to identify what it is that makes them uniquely different and creating truthful and compelling employer brands which get that message out there. It’s something we love doing and, d’you know what? We’re pretty good at it.

We helped London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust become one of the first trusts to use an employer brand to compete for their talented candidates. We created an employer brand centred around the sentiment of ‘Whole hearted. Not faint-hearted.” This celebrated the size, scope, passion and pride of the Trust, while not shying away from the challenges or hard work that this brought. It resulted in a staggering 400% increase in applications in some areas, and vacancy levels dropped another 8%.

Another good example is Mencap. They were attracting but losing people due to an idealised impression of the nature of the care worker role. So, we addressed this by creating an authentic employer brand that highlighted the toughest parts of the job. It tackled both attrition and skills shortages by attracting those who could cope well with the pressure of the role and therefore stay longer.

We’ve also worked with Hologic to create a global employer brand that celebrated the diversity and motivations of everyone within the organisation. This helped to engage hearts and minds internally and attract like-minded people externally. And, we’ve helped Bupa to raise the profile and importance of care workers in a project purely for the Care Home side of their business.

So, when it comes to attracting and engaging with talent in the healthcare world, we believe that there’s no point just showing up and taking part. You need an employer brand to give you a competitive edge. To differentiate your offer and define your proposition. Because, an employer brand doesn’t just give you a fighting chance to attract the talent you want. It’s the weapon you need to trounce the competition – and win!