COVID-19 has proved to be a challenging time for the public sector, testing the resilience, fortitude and capabilities of everyone. Thankfully, our frontline staff have managed to come through this most dangerous of challenges with humour and skill.
However, this seems to have been by sheer hard work and luck, not necessarily good planning. The public sector had been going through a real period of change prior to COVID-19 with services being stretched by rising costs, the steady increase in demand for services and an aging population, not to mention the effect of government austerity measures and a real terms reduction in the government settlement (specifically in both adults and children’s services).
This has led to a variety of conversations about what we want our public services to look like. Who do we want them to serve? How can people access them when they most need them? Should we continue to use current funding models or do we devise a new settlement for services provided by the state.
We believe that the key to transforming local government finance is the efficient and cost effective use of staff. Staffing costs account for roughly half of all local government spending, with spending on agency staff account for a large proportion of that. Recently, a number of local government framework have been focusing on value for money, permanent recruitment and talent-pooling of staff. The use of talent-pooling to embed long-lasting change is challenging for a variety of reasons.
Firstly, talent-pools are designed to interlink the recruitment of temporary staff into a seamless single transaction, allowing hiring managers direct access to available talent using app/cloud based technology platforms to speak directly to candidates, engaging them for one off pieces of work, long term structural bookings and even permanent/fixed term opportunities.
That said, with agency staff making up a large proportion of the work place and hiring manager removed from the recruitment process by large master/neutral vendor relationships, there is a concern that managers will not have the time and/or confidence to deal with recruitment in ways that they would be traditionally accustomed too.
Also, the development and engagement of talent-pools presents a significant administrative burden on local authorities. Many managers have taken on hiring roles safe in the knowledge that there are account managers, checks and balances in the vendor pathway and a long agency supply chain that encourages a “fastest finger first” attitude at fixed pence margins, which can cause inherent competition in the market and can lead to consultants encouraging temporary staff to take roles where the consultant gets a greater margin.
Talentpool technology on its own will not create this altruistic approach to recruitment and there are significant benefits to local authorities looking at this as a viable recruitment strategy. Working with a talent-pool provider can:
- Improve the local authorities’ approach to managing peaks in demand
- Identify candidates are immediately suitable, available, and compliant
- Communicate directly with candidates, improving relationships and reducing “time to hire”
- Providing accurate and time management information that leaders can assess and interrogate
- Help managers maintain a flexible and reactive workforce
- Reduce agency spend by between 30% - 50%
- Give hiring organisations control of their message
There are opportunities for local authorities to change their approach to recruitment and focus more on the candidate journey, giving them control of the processing and increasing their ability to deploy temporary staff safely and quickly.
The days of agencies and vendors determining the course of action and creating inherent inefficiencies are numbered. There is a new way of working emerging in the market, but it is going to take a lot of faith, willingness and ingenuity to completely change how local government handles recruitment in the future.
Let’s just hope that stakeholders, hiring managers and candidates are up to the challenge. For further information, get in touch with our HR Services team now.
If you enjoyed this read, you can find more blogs provided by our supplier, People Pool, and other recruitment sector updates here.