Staff retention in the social care sector is critical for data-to-day operations and building lasting, trusting relationships with users. Dimensions UK – a not-for-profit which assists adults with learning difficulties, autism and complex needs to engage within their local communities across the country – found this to be especially true.
A 2014 staff survey indicated that two-thirds of the workforce felt there was little opportunity for career progression, while an Investors in People assessment highlighted career development as an area for improvement.
Dimensions had no structured initiative for career development. So it turned to Executive Life Coaching to co-create and deliver an Aspire Career Development Programme and begin a process to tackle the entrenched issues.
Participants took part in career coaching sessions where they identified their next career steps, whether it is enriching their current role, a promotion or changing career paths in the organisation.
The coaching helped staff implement an individualised learning and development plan to fulfil their goals. These blended participants’ daily work with their development and highlighted appropriate ‘off the job’ opportunities, such as workshops or masterclasses to support individuals.
Maximising the project budget presented a challenge for the Exec Life team, given the geographical spread of employees. They created a coaching programme which could be implemented using video calls – saving travel expenses and enabling them to conduct four coaching sessions per day with team members across the UK.
The person-centred approach created real change within Dimensions. Of the 112 participants who completed the programme between April 2016-2018, more than half (52 per cent) reported career growth within the first six months of their programme.
Nine in ten (92 per cent) reported increased confidence about their career progression in Dimensions, while 94 per cent felt more connected to their work during the programme.
There was also a positive uplift in staff turnover. While this stood at 15.9 per cent across the firm, it was only 5.6 per cent for Aspire participants, which saves around £50,000 in recruitment costs alone. Judges felt this metric demonstrated a significant return on investment.
The impact of Aspire can be summed up by Simon Gosney, Dimensions UK’s head of learning and development. “Beyond the headline data, Aspire has produced some incredible stories of how individuals have responded to the opportunity,” he said. “One participant began the programme as a support worker, unsure of whether Dimensions could offer her the kind of career development she sought. She is now project manager for a major, organisation-wide change programme.”