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Nurse retention: how ‘career chats’ might persuade staff to stay

Regular career catch-ups between nurses and their managers are designed to address reasons why staff might want to resign – before they get to that point  
Trusts address nurse retention by introducing career catch-up chats

Regular career catch-ups between nurses and their managers are designed to address reasons why staff might want to resign – before they get to that point

Nurses at a group of trusts are having regular one-to-one career catch-ups with managers in a programme designed to resolve reasons they might want to resign.

The ‘stay conversations’ are the brainchild Royal Devon University Healthcare Trust (RDUH) in a bid to encourage staff to raise work concerns that might prompt them to leave. Discussions cover nurses’ well-being, work-life balance and career development.

The One Devon integrated care board (ICB), which oversees the project, described it as supportive coaching.

Regular career catch-ups between nurses and their managers are designed to address reasons why staff might want to resign – before they get to that point

Trusts address nurse retention by introducing career catch-up chats
Picture: iStock

Nurses at a group of trusts are having regular one-to-one career catch-ups with managers in a programme designed to resolve reasons they might want to resign.

The ‘stay conversations’ are the brainchild Royal Devon University Healthcare Trust (RDUH) in a bid to encourage staff to raise work concerns that might prompt them to leave. Discussions cover nurses’ well-being, work-life balance and career development.

The One Devon integrated care board (ICB), which oversees the project, described it as supportive coaching.

Supportive environment and opinion sharing

Torbay and South Devon Foundation Trust emergency department senior clinical sister Christina Harrison said managers aim to have the informal chats with staff every few months.

‘We wanted to explore issues that influence people’s decisions to leave so we can make improvements at work to encourage them to stay,’ she said.

‘We also wanted to create an environment where staff feel supported and where they can share their opinions and ideas freely. We approached the One Devon retention team and felt that “stay conversations” were something we would like to trial.’

Positive early results from pilot programme

Twelve pilots, to last six months to February 2023, were set up across One Devon’s trusts. Around six teams reported lower turnover as a result, an ICB spokesperson said.

One manager who took part said it gave them a chance to think more deeply about ‘softer’ leadership skills, while another said it helped them think about the impact their management style had on their team’s well-being.

Senior responsible officer for the One Devon project Jenny Shepherd said: ‘Given the national recruitment challenges and levels of turnover, retention has never been more important in the NHS. This means putting the experience of our people front and centre.’


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