Sep 21

Partnering with an employer support organisation to tackle recruitment and retention

Posted: 30 September 2021

Pre-pandemic, Skills for Care funded three employability support organisations to work with providers in social care to recruit people either under-represented in the social care workforce or who may experience barriers moving into work.

The purpose of the ‘Seeing potential’ project was to support social care employers to attract a diverse range of candidates and tap into undiscovered talent, an important part of the solution to high vacancy rates within the sector.

What open recruitment means and how to get started

Open recruitment is all about examining your recruitment processes to remove any unnecessary barriers to employment, and pro-actively supporting people from marginalised and socially excluded groups into work.

The first step to take in supporting open recruitment is thinking about where and how you advertise your vacancies. Make sure you use language which is accessible for everyone, and think about promoting your roles where different groups of people may see them. For example, not relying on internet job boards where people are actively looking for a job in care, but reaching out to local community groups and job centres and targeting areas where there is a high level of unemployment.

Also consider what you ask for from the candidate and how you shortlist – rather than focusing on qualifications and previous experience, think about the values needed to be successful in the role and put these front and centre in your advertisement so people who may not have considered a role in care can see that it may suit them. You can also change the recruitment process, for example replacing formal and daunting interview processes with more relaxed information days for candidates.

For support with open recruitment there are both local and national employability support organisations who can help you to reach and onboard people from under-represented groups.


Benefit to the employer

There are many benefits to a social care provider in opening up their recruitment process to actively seek employees from under-represented groups.

These include:

  • access to a wider, untapped talent pool
  • a focus on values over experience and qualifications
  • hiring people with lived experience which can improve the support they offer
  • fresh ideas and different perspectives
  • a cost-effective recruitment option
  • better retention rates and lower rates of absenteeism.

Gillian Lee, Home Manager of Leeds Jewish Welfare Board’s (LJWB) Montague Burton House, who were one of the employers involved in our ‘Seeing potential’ project, told us that the programme has led to Montague Burton House gaining several new and highly regarded care workers, who may never have found the care sector on their own.

Her colleague Szczepan Swiatkowski, HR Manager at LJWB, highlighted how the scheme has supported retention rates as it’s helped them secure some incredible and loyal colleagues, who have remained with the organisation long-term.


Benefit to the employee

An open recruitment process has a huge benefit supporting people who may face barriers into employment to get started in an interesting and meaningful career.

Providing an open recruitment process helps individuals to:

  • get out of long-term unemployment
  • overcome barriers to employment and past challenges
  • learn new skills and knowledge
  • gain confidence
  • utilise lived experience to make a difference to others
  • start building a career path and routes for progression.

Devon Watson, who was employed by LJWB as part of their ‘Step into care’ programme within the ‘Seeing potential’ project, says that one of the biggest things his new role in care has brought him is confidence. He says:

“I really surprised myself, and my ability to achieve new and more difficult tasks and I think this would be the same for everyone.”


Benefit to the sector

By encouraging the social care sector as a whole to focus on open recruitment processes there are many benefits to social care providers, the workforce, and people who need care and support.

These include:

  • a solution to high vacancy rates by increasing access to a wider group of candidates
  • a focus on hiring people with the right values to work in care improving the standard of the workforce
  • improved retention rates due to hiring people with the right values
  • improved quality of care by incorporating lived experience and more equal representation of our communities.

Speaking of the importance of open recruitment in social care Shahida Mahmood, the Organisational and Workforce Development Business Partner for Leeds City Council, who operate as an employability support organisation, says:

“On any given day there are around 800 to 900 vacancies in the social care sector in Leeds.

“Our aim is to remove barriers of entry for the social care sector and help people with the right values, behaviours and attitudes join the workforce.”


Case studies

The experiences highlighted by LJWB, Leeds City Council and others from our ‘Seeing potential’ project are available to read in full on our website.

You can also read about the key learnings from these projects.


Find more recruitment information and advice on our #RecruitmentReady spotlight.