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Case study 7: Recruiting to improve retention – Healthy Minds Buckinghamshire


Recruitment and retention of staff was proving challenging. We implemented a recruitment programme to inform applicants about why Healthy Minds is a great place to work. As a result, the standard of applications has improved, interviewees have a better understanding of what we can offer them, and diversity has increased.

Staff wellbeing issue

Challenges with recruitment and retention of staff in IAPT services is commonplace. High turnover and longstanding vacancies cause pressure for staff who have to absorb the workload of others or manage too many people. Our current staff reported feeling stressed and unable to keep on top of workloads. They felt demoralised when the effort put into recruitment of new staff was unsuccessful or when new recruits left shortly after being taken on.

Actions taken

In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic prevented us from running face-to-face recruitment open days, we implemented online ‘engagement events’ for people considering applying for roles in Healthy Minds. This format enabled us to offer convenient online evening slots, which were popular with people considering applying for roles. Our first two events for trainee psychological wellbeing practitioners (PWPs) had around 200 attendees who were able to speak to clinicians (including current trainees) and managers, learn more about our service and ask any questions.

We wanted to improve the quality of applications overall and also recruit more trainees from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and ages. Using the MS Teams ‘Sway’ function we collated a dedicated information pack for trainee PWPs. We included information about Healthy Minds and tips for making great applications, along with video clips of staff and patients of different ages and ethnicities explaining what we do and how we help people recover. Links are sent so people can view information online before processing their application or attending interview.

Following the success of our first recruitment Sway, which has had more than 1,200 views to date, we have since created a more generic recruitment Sway suited to all roles in Healthy Minds.


Our approaches have encouraged applicants to make stronger applications with a clear understanding of the service upfront. Interviewees have a better understanding of our service and what we can offer them. Applicant diversity has increased. We have had three very successful recruitment campaigns for PWP trainees using these initiatives, with many new recruits saying they read the recruitment Sway before interview and found it helpful.

So far, our PWP trainee recruitment Sway has been viewed more than 1,200 times and our more recently developed generic recruitment Sway has had more than 300 views. Links to recruitment Sways can be shared widely e.g. within the text of adverts, through local business networks and employment advisory services, and on our Healthy Minds website.

Next steps

We are building on this work in a number of ways:

  • Reviewing and updating recruitment Sways to keep them fresh and relevant
  • Planning additional patient involvement/video clips
  • Monitoring retention of trainees as they progress through to qualified roles
  • Ensure links to recruitment Sways are routinely included in all adverts.