Staff Retention Action Plan Tool

Overview and Resources
October 2023

Find out more about how you can use the Staff Retention Action Plan Tool (also known as the nursing and midwifery retention self-assessment tool) to create a retention action plan for the benefit of your organisation, team, patients and service users.

Why does it matter?

  • The Staff Retention Action Plan tool describes ‘what good looks like’ in key areas such as Health and Wellbeing, Autonomy and Shared Professional Decision Making, Leadership and Teamwork, Professional Development and Careers, Pride and Meaningful Recognition, Flexible Working, and Excellence in Care. 
  • It invites organisations to reflect on what they are doing, how effective current practice is, and identify where there are gaps. This enables organisations to build a retention action plan that is targeted and specific to their situation.  It can be used at various levels such as organisation, department or team.
  • Focusing on initiatives which keep people working in the NHS is essential and having a specific action plan encourages organisations to think about staff retention as a strategic priority.

There is no single initiative that will improve Ways to Stay; the Staff Retention Action Plan tool encourages organisations to consider all the areas that support retention and to aim to deliver against them simultaneously.


How will this benefit my…

  • An organisation which prioritises staff experience will focus on a variety of programmes and initiatives designed to improve the workplace.
    These might include career development support, staff awards and recognition, promotion and support of flexible working, health and wellbeing support and leadership development and together this approach will improve staff experience and Ways to Stay.
  • Working in a team where staff experience is a priority increases engagement, as staff will be afforded opportunities to develop, encouraged to thrive and are supported to stay healthy and well at work.
  • Any activity which improves staff experience and staff engagement directly correlates to improvements in patient experience. Happy staff = happy patients, it’s as simple as that!

Top Tips for Implementing

You don’t need to worry about completing all of the tips. Pick a few that feel achievable to you as a starting point.
You can then revisit them later.

  • Prepare yourself by reading through the accompanying toolkit which will guide you on your journey via planning and conducting your process, along with some top tips.
  • Decide if you are completing the tool as an organisation, department or team (or other).
  • Consider who you might need to help you with any advice and data; it is likely that you will be more successful with the help of others.
  • You might need to speak to your organisation about how to access data; this might be a Data Analyst or your HR department.
  • Accessing Model Health System will provide you with useful data. You can register for an account if you don’t already have one.
  • The Understanding your Data section in the NHS Employers Improving Staff Retention – A guide for line managers and employers is also a useful starting point.
  • Take time to engage with subject matter experts and understand exactly what your organisation is currently doing. You may want to consider running some engagement sessions within your organisation.
  • Are there any initiatives impacting staff? What evidence is there of impact already?
  • Make your you allocate yourself enough time to complete the tool and gather the information you will need in advance.
  • Complete the Staff Retention Action Plan tool using the accompanying toolkit. You may wish to use a survey to gather information. Microsoft Forms is an easy application to use for a survey.
  • You may also wish to use the Staff Survey Questions Analysis which helpfully suggests key questions in the NHS Staff Survey (as used in 2021). You can access your results on the NHS Staff Survey Co-ordination Centre.
  • Other useful data is available from the National Quarterly Pulse Survey, NHS People Pulse Survey and ESR Exit Questionnaire. Your organisation may not yet use the NHS People Pulse Survey or ESR Exit Questionnaire so it is worth considering who you could speak to about using them in the future, such as your HR Department.
  • After completion, engage with key stakeholders to share the assessment and the dashboard, and to agree the Ways to Stay actions that will form part of your plan.
  • Identify the short-, medium- and long-term actions and agree timeframes for delivery and appropriate leads for each area; for each action, identify a baseline position and/or agree how you will measure success.
  • There is a useful action plan template you may wish to use in the accompanying toolkit.
  • Work with staff groups and champions to ensure that you are taking account of staff voices when deciding on what to do.
  • Agree who will receive updates on the progress of the plan and how these will be shared.
  • Consider when you may repeat the process to measure improvement.

How will I measure the impact?

  • Establish a data baseline (e.g. current leaver and turnover rates, sickness absence rates, health and wellbeing and staff engagement scores, flexible working requests, training, and development numbers etc.) and then track and monitor these over time. Consider when you may repeat the process to measure improvement such as after 6 or 12 months.
  • Useful data is available in Model Health System. You can register for an account if you don’t already have one as well as from the National Quarterly Pulse Survey, NHS People Pulse Survey and ESR Exit Questionnaire. Your organisation may not yet use the NHS People Pulse Survey or ESR Exit Questionnaire so it is worth considering who you could speak to about using them in the future, such as your HR Department.
  • Capture staff stories and other qualitative data through case studies, vignettes, communications or inviting staff to share positive stories at Board meetings or senior team meetings.
  • Share good news stories and promote the support being offered through internal communications channels – celebrate your successes and make sure people hear about them.
“There was a recognition that the attrition rate of health visiting wasn’t improving, and then I was asked if I wanted to participate in a pilot looking at a recruitment and retention strategy. As a result of that, we’d undertake training and support to try and deliver and improve the outcomes for our workforce, which obviously, then has an impact on the service that we deliver to our families.”

Yvonne Copeland, Clinical Lead

Case Study

Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust

Yvonne Copeland, Clinical Lead at Sandwell and West Birmingham, undertook a project to improve staff experience and retention identified via use of the Staff Retention Action Plan Tool.  She found it was a useful tool in implementing a retention initiative that supported staff at every stage of their career.

“The benefit is if we have more staff, what that means is we can deliver more of the services that we should be delivering.” Yvonne Copeland, Clinical Lead

Read more about the achievement here >
Grey Tool
Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust
Read more >
“From all the staff that put the information in, I am so grateful that we were all listened to”

Melanie, Health Visitor