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Improve retention with values-based recruitment, says charity boss


Autism Together has dramatically reduced staff turnover thanks to a new recruitment method

Adopting a values-based approach to recruitment and retention can help to drastically reduce turnover rates in the charity sector, according to Robin Bush, CEO of Autism Together.

Bush told HR magazine that his charity recruits based on its values of being respectful, creating a people-centric culture, and encouraging staff and service users to continue learning.

“It was better for us to find people with the right values and attitudes, rather than the right pieces of paper, and invest in them. We found when we did this they stayed longer, and we saw a significant improvement in our staff turnover,” he said.

Staff turnover at the charity is now 18%. Before adopting this approach it had reached 23%. In 2014 the sector average was estimated to be as high as 27%, according to the Care Quality Commission.

Bush said that the social care sector is under significant pressure as a result of increases to the minimum wage. “We support the living wage, but we can’t do things like other organisations to offset the extra costs,” he said.

He explained that for years local authorities have not raised their fees in line with inflation, and in many cases they have reduced them. At the same time there have been increases to the minimum wage and the National Living Wage. Now there's 'sleep-in' legislation, meaning each duty is paid as working time.

The apprenticeship levy, which will be introduced April 2017 for employers with a payroll of more than £3 million and charged at 0.5% of their annual pay bill, is an added stressor. “It’s certainly not going to make things any easier,” said Bush. “It’s another added pressure, and I’m not sure how many more pressures we can take before we can no longer support our community.”

Autism Together has 13 residential sites for adults with autism, along with 15 day services, 20 supported living services, and one children and families’ office. It employs nearly 1,000 staff.