What do you have to do to keep good people?

Behind any failing GP practice is a failure to retain skilled clinical staff to look after the pateints. What key things should practices do?

Rule 1: Prioritise their wellbeing. Make time to keep in touch with them so that they feel cared about and act to sort out their problems. As the organisation grows make this part of your culture so team members look after each other and deal with issues.

Rule 2: Invest in their growth and development. People find work fulfilling when they are stretching themselves and maximising their potential. They will stick with you through the tough times if they know that they are mastering skills that will serve them in the long run.

Rule 3: Lead with purpose and vision. We are more committed to our work when we feel good about making a positive difference. Be clear about the cause you serve and be careful that your actions match up to your words.

Rule 4: Make work enjoyable. You don’t need gimmicks like table football or a champagne bar (although go for it if they work for you!). But you do need to foster a sense of fun and belonging so people genuinely like coming to work. Look out for opportunities to make people smile and bring some joy into their day – like sending out for doughnuts or pizza when they need a lift.

Rule 5: Give them trust and autonomy. Allowing people to make changes to how they do their job not only means they perform better but they feel valued and enjoy it more. Making work a safe place to experiment and improve will allow your practice to adapt to change and excel.

Rule 6: Use marketing to make them proud. Increasing the public image and kudos of your practice not only helps you recruit better people, it also makes your employees feel better about working with you. If their friends envy them their jobs, they are more likely to stay. And you will be able to improve morale and workload by filling any vacancies quickly.

Rule 7: Make enough money to pay them well. Sometimes it seems a little grubby to talk about increasing your profit out of working for the NHS. But having a sound business strategy is essential to being able to pay your staff properly. You need to be open with them about what the practice needs to do to thrive and be clear that you all need the practice to be successful.

None of these are quick or easy to implement. But they work together and success in one area helps all the others. Over time they will strengthen your practice and your team.