Alongside the NHS, social care is our frontline defence against the Coronavirus; tasked with looking after our most vulnerable at their greatest hour of need. The sector faced a dramatic surge in demand, increased staff absence and the heavy responsibility for the safety of their staff and service users.
So, what recruitment solutions have been implemented in response to this pandemic and what will it mean for the future of resourcing to the social care sector?
I will be exploring the challenges, solutions and key learns from the last couple months that could be used to shape the future success of resourcing to the sector in YPO’s upcoming webinar! Until then I will discuss in this blog how the pandemic has shed light on the possibilities of response solutions and identified some myths in the sector.
Impossibilities becoming reality
Whilst the emergency is far from over it is interesting for me to reflect on the 1,200 applications screened and over 300 workers successfully started on the frontline of social care in a matter of weeks, specifically considering what was done differently to meet this acute workforce demand. I wonder which features of the approach might become the ‘new norm’?
As I consider this; I realise that what was viewed as impossible, or at the very least difficult pre-Covid, has nevertheless happened so the pandemic really has helped bust myths and enabled us to see what is possible:
'Social care isn’t an attractive and rewarding career’
Despite the risk to people’s personal safety and exposure to the Covid infection, the swell of support displayed in part through #clapforcarers has resulted in over 1200 applicants.
‘We can’t offer flexible work; we need to fill rota’s that meet our business need’
300 workers have commenced on a variety of contracts, working around complex and challenging personal commitments. Co-operation and ‘we will make it work’ attitude has overcome the ‘fixed’ rota/shift system.
‘End to end technology driven solutions are the most efficient’
We ditched some technology, it created friction in the process, at times became inflexible, we needed a candidate driven approach and a process that staff not trained in specific systems could follow.
‘There is no replacement for the face to face interview to assess whether someone has what it takes to care for others’
We harnessed technology where it added value; remote interviewing and documentation verification were absolutely pivotal towards a swift and safe recruitment process. Hirers armed with experience are embracing these approaches and looking to use them in the future, confident that they have got under the skin of applicants.
‘I need people with experience to hit the ground running’
We recruited to values instead of experience, those that have a passion to care for others and want to make a difference. Seeking candidates with a ‘can-do’ attitude who want to get stuck-in to get things done, this approach requires minimal training, post holders instantly made a difference, have been high performing and are having a positive impact on team dynamics.
‘We cannot recruit quickly, we need to recruit robustly’
Regulation including safeguarding considerations requires vigilance, carefully considered approach to staff appointments and robust vetting, this takes time. I don’t disagree, yet 300 people started within days and weeks, adopting a risk managed approach with clear tolerances and a dogged approach to gaining clearances has been key.
Responding to the emergency has re-enforced for me that recruitment is an experience, it is personal, it is not a process and absolutely has to be designed around the candidate. Technology should be used to add value not dictate an approach – digital by design not by default. Re-assess what is important, do not hide behind ‘gold plated’ policies, instead get it done. Staff have worked in difficult circumstances at work and at home, managers have shown more flexibility and adaptability, everyone is being more co-operative and perhaps kinder.
My team are truly amazing, I am proud of their achievements and the support they have given to over 400 care and support customers. I feel as passionate about seeing them in person as I do my family and friends, hopefully not too long in the future. It has been tough I won’t pretend it’s not been without challenges. My professional colleagues have given me both support and professional challenge in equal measure, they have kept me sane (well mostly sane I hope!).
I am hoping that our nation, and that of others, have a new appreciation for social care and that this is one of the legacies that last.
Thank you to all social care teams, you are doing an amazing job, I am amazed, shocked and stunned by what you have achieved, without warning and in the most challenging of circumstances.
If you’d like to hear more on this topic, join Sarah in our Temporary Recruitment Webinar on 11 June 2020 at 10am.