Addressing Staff Retention in Children’s Residential Care

In the realm of children’s residential support work, an issue that’s becoming increasingly pertinent is staff retention. With the frequent turnover and burnout seen in the industry, it’s more crucial than ever that we reassess how we view and address staff motivation, inspiration, and retention.

Understanding Motivations: A Key to Staff Retention

One of the primary aspects to consider is understanding what motivates our staff. In contrast, everyone has unique motivations. Common driving forces within this sector tend to be a sense of purpose, recognition for one’s work, and opportunities for professional development. Recognition goes beyond a simple ‘thank you’; it can take the form of public acknowledgements, positive feedback, and even small rewards for exceptional performance. As for growth opportunities, ensure that you provide avenues for continuous learning, meaningful personal development, and career progression.

Inspirational Leadership: Practising Empathy and Emotional Intelligence

In addition to understanding the motivations of our staff, it’s also essential to inspire them. Creating an inspiring environment starts with practising empathy and emotional intelligence in interactions. Staff who feel genuinely understood and appreciated are likelier to commit to their best efforts. You can achieve this by creating a culture of active listening, where everyone’s thoughts and opinions are welcomed and valued. When we think about the environment we want to create for the people we care for, are we creating a similar environment for those who provide that care? Do we make them feel valued, inspired and looked after?

The Power of Recognition: Using Gratitude and Storytelling to Inspire

Incorporating gratitude and storytelling into your management style can go a long way in fostering a positive and inspiring work atmosphere. Ofsted inspections show that those Managers who truly appreciate, inspire and work closely with their staff team consistently achieve better outcomes. Commend staff on their achievements and contributions, and make sure their efforts aren’t unnoticed. Meanwhile, sharing stories of resilience and success within your organisation can inspire your team to overcome challenges with renewed determination.

Empowering Staff: Unleashing Individual Strengths for Better Engagement

As leaders, one of our most potent tools is our ability to empower our staff [2]. By giving team members opportunities to exercise their core strengths, we boost their confidence and overall job satisfaction. Be it through tailored projects, roles, or responsibilities, ensure you’re utilising your team member’s unique talents. If you find staff unwilling to engage, ask yourself if they feel valued or put upon. If it is the latter, then what strategies can you use to change the culture even when times are hard?

Respecting Time: Balancing Work-Life Demands

Encourage punctuality but also flexibility. In this line of work, the gift of time is incredibly valuable. Our staff are dedicating portions of their life they can’t get back, so we must respect and value their time. Allow staff the freedom to balance work with their personal lives, which can immensely enhance their overall well-being and job satisfaction. This approach can be difficult in the residential environment but not impossible.

Accountability and Example: Leading from the Front

In conclusion, cultivating a culture of accountability is paramount for effective leadership. As leaders, we must constantly self-reflect, acknowledge our errors, and showcase our unwavering dedication to personal growth. By serving as role models, we can inspire our team members to embrace responsibility and take ownership of their actions.

Conclusion: A New Narrative for Staff Retention in Residential Support Work

In conclusion, we can do much to address staff retention in the children’s residential support work sector. By reimagining how we motivate, inspire, and retain staff, we can help create a more satisfying, enriching, and sustainable work environment for our invaluable team members. It’s time to change the narrative – and it begins with us.

Let’s inspire and motivate you to retain for a brighter future in residential support work!

Ten tips for improving staff retention


  1. Understand Individual Motivations: Recognise that every staff member has unique motivations. Try to understand these and use them to shape your approach to management [1].


  1. Recognise Achievements: Regularly acknowledge and celebrate the work of your team. Recognition can increase job satisfaction and loyalty.


  1. Promote Growth Opportunities: Ensure that your organisation has pathways for meaningful professional development. This could be training, mentoring, or opportunities for promotion.


  1. Practice Empathy: Cultivate a culture of understanding and emotional intelligence. Staff who feel genuinely appreciated are likelier to perform better and stay longer [2].


  1. Create a Listening Culture: Make sure every team member feels heard. You can achieve this by encouraging open communication and feedback and then acting on the feedback that you receive.


  1. Incorporate Gratitude and Storytelling: These tools create a positive and inspiring work atmosphere. Celebrate successes and share stories of achievement within your organisation [2].


  1. Empower Your Staff: Allow team members to use their strengths and take on responsibilities that align with their skills and interests [2].


  1. Value and Respect Time: Respect your staff’s time and ensure work-life balance. The more they feel their time is respected, the happier and more engaged they’ll be in their roles.


  1. Lead by Example: Show accountability in your actions, demonstrating to your team that it’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them [2].


  1. Offer Competitive Benefits: Ensure your pay, benefits, and working conditions are competitive for your industry. Include benefits that promote well-being and life balance.






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