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Recruitment continues to dominate the headlines as we move into the summer, and for many Housing Associations, it is the area of care and support roles that continues to be the major challenge in finding staff. As we entered 2022, it became clear that of the fundamental change in worker availability that has now developed – there has been a real-term reduction of over 500,000 workers in the UK, whilst at the same time, we have had a sustained boom in new job vacancies.

According to the monthly Recruitment Employment Confederation / KPMG Report on jobs, in Q1 of 2022 the biggest area of demand for temporary workers was in the care sector (and only second to IT for permanent roles). Aside from competition for skills with other providers of care and support services (both inside and outside the housing sector), there is now also fierce competition from employers offering alternative opportunities outside the care sector which has also reduced the talent pool further.

Undoubtedly we are now in a permanently tighter labour market and for the foreseeable future, the use of temporary care and support workers will remain a key strategy to ensure that services are continued to be delivered.

Inevitably for many, this will mean resourcing temporary workers via recruitment agencies but with declining fulfilment levels, rising costs and an increasing burden on management time it is an area of growing concern for many Housing Associations. Therefore, getting your temporary agency worker strategy right is now critical and whilst there is no ‘magic wand’ there are a number of key areas that should be focused on.

Firstly, the biggest issue in improving fulfilment is to increase the number of recruitment agency suppliers you can access. Fundamentally you can either do this yourself by expanding your list of suppliers or you can outsource your temporary agency worker management to a managed service provider who will build and manage a supply chain on your behalf.

More details on which option may be right for your organisation are explored in the recent YPO webinar recording 'Temporary worker resourcing in a changing world'.

Whichever option you choose will be dependent upon your situation, including your internal management resources, but fundamentally the greater the number of suppliers you can call upon will lead to both increased fulfilment levels and also more competitive pricing. In addition, maximising the widest possible range of suppliers is also critical – there will be larger suppliers who are typically regional or national providers but don’t forget the local SME recruitment agency that will often access a different talent pool.

Secondly, make sure you have invested in developing the relationships you have in place with your suppliers (if not already done) – make time to get to know them and their capabilities but also to share with them the key information around your organisation, your typical requirements, key processes, compliance standards and service expectations. This can be a time-consuming process (although this will be done for you by a managed service provider if you choose that option) but it’s an essential step in improving the effectiveness, temporary worker quality and commitment of your suppliers.

Thirdly, this is also the time to revisit and reset the pay rates that you have in place. Whilst undoubtedly pay rates remain high, they have plateaued and, in some cases, reduced from the peak levels that were seen at the height of the COVID crisis.   Ensure you have visibility in the pay rates (and also the agency margins) you are being charged and in particular that the pay rates to the temporary agency workers are fair and sustainable. A benchmarking exercise like this should be done at least twice a year and ideally on a quarterly basis. 

Finally, you should also ensure that you are regularly reviewing the incumbent temporary workforce to identify longer-term agency workers who should be considered for permanent roles. Not every agency worker will want to work permanently but many will and if they have worked for a minimum period (typically 12 – 16 weeks), there should be agreement in place with your agency suppliers that there are no additional fees to pay.

These are four simple and straight forward steps to take – it will require a commitment of time and resources but if approached right, the return will be an improvement in fulfilment, better control of costs and better control of your temporary agency workforce requirements.

About Matrix SCM

Matrix SCM is a managed service provider for temporary agency workers, working with over 100 local authority, housing associations and not-for-profit organisations. They are an approved supplier to the YPO Managing Temporary and Permanent Recruitment framework.

For more information please contact Richard Gelder – Housing Association Sector Lead:

 

- Email: [email protected]

- Contact number: 07929 735591

- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richardgelder/

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Richard Gelder

Housing Association Sector Lead
Matrix SCM