Care staff turnover at the Joseph Rowntree charities fell from 26 per cent to 12 per cent because it is paying more than its competitors, the chief operating officer said yesterday.
Shaun Rafferty, chief operating officer at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, told delegates at Civil Society Media’s inaugural People and Culture conference, held in London yesterday, that since becoming one of the first care providers to pay the living wage in 2013 its care staff turnover more than halved.
He said that by reducing its care staff it had saved the charity money in recruitment costs and improved its customer service rating.
The Joseph Rowntree charities employ more than 500 care workers and in the first year the move to pay the living wage cost the charity £600,000, which was 3 per cent of its turnover.
“We are the best paying care provider in the region so when we go out to recruit we have no problem filling roles,” he said.
Rather than using its endowment to pay for the increase it passed the increase on to service users and increased its care fees to demonstrate to others that it was possible.
He said that before introducing the living wage it had to restructure its whole pay so that there were fewer grades and staff are also now paid less for overtime.
Zero hours contracts
Rafferty said that zero hours contracts “have been a bit demonised” and that said JRF continues to use them “because we need a pool of relief” but that it has reconfigured them.
People on zero hours’ contracts at JRF and JRHT now get four weeks’ notice and have the same staff privileges as everyone else.
Other support for employees
Rafferty said that being an anti-poverty employer did not end with paying the living wage and that the charities are introducing a number of other measures to support staff such as providing financial advice and helping staff manage debt.
Rafferty said that the charity had discovered that a lot of its staff had debt issues.
He said: “Many are borrowing from friends and family and as we often employ three generations from the same family problems can spill over into the workplace.”
JRF has agreed a deal with Leeds Credit Union that it will use its endowment to underwrite lending to the charity’s staff.
“This means they can get the interest rate down from 23 per cent to 10 per cent,” he said.
Rafferty also said that tackling mental health issues in the workplace was important and that it has committed to making sure all its staff have access to the internet either at work or at home.