Jul 2017

Can't Hire the Staff You Need? Time to Rethink your Recruitment Model

There can be no doubt that now is one of the toughest times to be recruiting talent into local government. 

It’s not just a question of the prospect of stagnant wages resulting from the public sector pay cap.

On one side, the pressure and conditions of working in some service areas like care and social services are turning away existing and prospective employees and leaving a range of hard-to-fill roles with a dearth of candidates. More broadly, council HR teams say that competing with the perceived opportunity from private sector employers is getting tougher.

At a time when councils need talented and committed people to not only deliver key services, but to underpin new ones, this is a problem HR teams have to overcome by rethinking the way they approach recruitment and talent attraction.

At Matrix we work closely with a range of council HR teams, from big to small. Based on this experience, I see two areas where councils can make a big difference to their ability to recruit.

The first is investing in the creation of a strong employer brand. Cash-strapped HR teams needn’t be concerned that this involves spending large amounts of money. This is an exercise in working out what you can do to set yourself apart from all the other organisations you compete with for talent. Here, the public sector has a strong hand to play in terms of the flexibility, investment in development and opportunity to progress it can offer people. A well-focused employer brand will do the job of attracting people who wouldn’t normally consider working for you.

The second area councils can focus on is the way they manage their recruitment across the organisation. The scale and range of a council’s activities means that at anytime time there will be a number of temporary, part-time and full time roles which have to be filled to keep services running and pressure off of existing teams.

In my experience, for many councils the ability to recruit to these roles is hampered rather than supported by the way they manage their recruitment partners. In some instances, a preferred supplier list of recruitment partners will have grown to fulfil the recruitment needs, built up over a period of time. Others will have partnered with a big name recruiter to fill the vacancies. The outcome in both cases is rarely an approach which reliably fills roles across the council at the right cost and within the right time frame.

The big opportunity that we see for HR teams and recruiters is to stop persisting with these ineffective models, take a step back and put in place a way of managing these recruitment supply chains which gives you the necessary flexibility to reach prospective employees and visibility to quickly identify the problem areas, and find ways of fixing them.

On 20th July we’re holding a workshop with the PPMA at the office of the London Councils in Southwark where two councils will share how they have done this in partnership with Matrix.

If you’d like to come along and find out more, please contact Chris Grimes who will be delighted to welcome you as our guest.