Who Are You Looking for? Where Can You Find Them?

I was standing outside in my big coat, in November, at the community centre in Ashton. Inside, Michelle and Helen—part of the recruitment team—were putting the finishing touches on the room where we were holding our first recruitment workshop for Wellbeing Workers. There was bunting around the walls, hand-made by our colleague Emily. Five tables had small, low vases of flowers in the centre, with a scattering of Celebration chocolates, and there was uplifting music playing in the background. Helen, our Co-Production Partner, sat at our welcome desk with name badges and information that we needed people to complete for us on the day.
I was waiting to welcome people personally. Like hosting a party, this was always the stage when I worried whether people would turn up. The first people to arrive were two young women, Jodie and Becky. Then Annie was dropped off by her mum. Jack came up to me and said, “You must be Helen!” I was taken aback!
“Yes, how did you know?” I asked
“From your photo,” he said, “It is on your one-page profile.”
Three hours later, we were jubilant. We had met people who we thought had compassionate hearts, took responsibility for themselves and their work, and were open to self-management. Among them were a hairdresser, a van driver, a student, a parent wanting to come back to work, and a shop assistant.
 
Recruiting from outside health and care
 
From the beginning, we were intentional about recruiting people who did not work in home care and did not have experience of working in health or care. We thought that if we could find people who aligned with our values, then we could teach them what they needed to know to deliver great care within a CQC-regulated service. I believed that it would be harder for people already working in home care to unlearn traditional ways of working than it would be to find great people and support them to learn how to provide support wrapped around each individual and delivered in the way they wanted it.
This was unheard of at the time. Home care providers were looking for people with experience in home care so that they knew what was expected, were confident in delivering care, and could start work quickly. We wanted people who wanted a career change or to come back to work.
Our next step was to think about who we wanted to attract. Seth Godin is a guru of marketing, and we created what he calls ‘psycho personas’. This means thinking about what people might think and feel about care work, what their fears might be, and what they might hope for. Once we knew that, we would have the information we needed so that our recruitment adverts and messages would really speak to them. This meant finding ways to acknowledge and address fears or to create a sense of possibility that might reflect their hopes.
 
Who are we looking for?
 
There are seven questions that we use to think through the role that we want people to do, the kind of person who could do this role, and how we might be able to attract them.
 
Here are the seven questions that we consider:
 
  1. What is the role? We complete the role description.
  2. Who are we looking for to fulfil this role? We clarify the values and characteristics that we are looking for in people delivering this role and embed them in ‘Could this be you?’
  3. Where might the people we are looking for be? What roles might they be doing at the moment in life, work, or their local community?
  4. Given the roles that they are currently doing, what might be their hopes or fears if they consider changing direction and working with Wellbeing Teams?
  5. How can we show that we understand those hopes and fears, and reflect that in questions, information, or images used within our advertising?
  6. Would these questions, information, or images be attractive to people who reflect our values too?
  7. Given these answers, where and how would we need to advertise to make sure people saw us?
 
When we recruit a new team of Wellbeing Workers, we focus on specific groups of people. For example:
 
  • Active retired people who still want to contribute
  • Parents who want to come back to the workplace
  • People doing hospitality roles, for example, in restaurants, hotels, or bars
  • People in customer service roles, for example shop assistants
  • People working in education or childcare
  • Students
 
One of our most recent recruitment campaigns was with Camden Council. We recruited a Wellbeing Leader and a Wellbeing Coordinator, and then, with their help, we recruited two Wellbeing Teams.
  
What this looks like in practice—recruiting a Wellbeing Leader
 
The Wellbeing Leader acts as the coach to the team, and, as the Registered Manager (RM), also takes responsibility for delivering the expectations of the regulator CQC. I took this role for the first Wellbeing Teams in Wigan. In Camden, we were working very closely with the Head of Provider services, Amanda. The new Wellbeing Leader would report to Amanda, and she wanted to recruit someone who was already a Registered Manager.
I could understand that, and it is the response we are conditioned to have. It is easy to believe that an existing RM would know what to do and be confident and comfortable in the role quickly. This is the equivalent of home care organisations wanting someone with experience in home care. We talked in detail about the CQC responsibilities required within this role and that it was the processes that we needed to have confidence in. As Wellbeing Teams had been inspected and awarded Outstanding by CQC, we could demonstrate that Amanda could be confident in these processes. Ultimately, Amanda was happy to surrender the expectation that the candidate was or had been a Registered Manager as long as they had experience in leadership and quality.
 
Recruiting the Wellbeing Leader—step by step
 
  1. What is the role? Complete the role description.
 
We started by adapting the role description we had used to recruit Wellbeing Leaders to the Camden context. In Camden, there are some key phrases they use in all of their role descriptions, so these were included.
 
  1. Clarify the values and characteristics that we are looking for to deliver this role and embed them in ‘Could this be you?’
We went back to the resource that we use for values, the Minessence framework. We knew the values of Wellbeing Teams generally, so we looked at what additional values we wanted to have in someone taking the Wellbeing Leader role. Based on the role, this is what we decided. The descriptors are taken directly from the Minessence framework.
 
Adaptability/Flexibility – To be flexible and adaptable in response to changing circumstances. Being excited by experimentation and new learning.
 
Pioneerism/Progress – Pioneering new ideas (including technology) to make things better for people and providing the framework for realising them.
 
Planning – To plan and implement systems and processes that will maximise the use of available resources.
 
The Adaptability/Flexibility value reflects the growth mindset described in an earlier blog.
 
We decided that our ideal candidate would also have the following characteristics:
 
  • Detail conscious and organised
  • Completer/finisher
  • Empathetic
  • Coaching approach
Based on both the values and the characteristics we were looking for, we adapted the ‘what people appreciate about you’ section in the ‘Could this be you?’. We later used the values and characteristics to develop specific Values cards to use in the recruitment process. This is the version we used:
 
Could this be you?
You are warm, friendly, reliable, caring, and full of energy. You are a great listener, a good problem-solver, helpful, honest, trustworthy, and someone with a ‘can-do’ positive attitude. You have a growth mindset—you want to experiment, learn, and develop. You are confident, organised, self-motivated, and resilient.
  
  1. Where might the people we are looking for be already? What roles might they be doing at the moment in life, work, or their local community.
We were looking for someone who is already in a leadership role within an organisation, who has some responsibility for quality.
 
  1. Given the roles that they are currently doing, what might their hopes or fears be if they consider changing direction and working with Wellbeing Teams?
When we tried standing in the shoes of people who were in leadership roles who may consider working with Wellbeing Teams and taking on a role in self-management, we came up with these hopes and fears:
 
Hopes
 
  • Freedom from bureaucracy
  • To see a difference made in people’s and colleagues’ lives
  • To learn new and innovative ways of working that reflect their values
Fears
 
  • Covid restrictions
  • Self-management is chaos and has no structure
  • Regulators won’t be on board
 
  1. How can we show that we understand those hopes and fears and reflect that in questions, information, or images used within our advertising?
 
We chose three approaches that both reflected the three hopes and the potential anxiety about self-management.
 
  • The ‘rebel at work’ theme was about different ways of working without bureaucracy and hierarchy.
  • The ‘command and control’ theme was about the potential of self-management.
  • The ‘meaningful work of your life’ connected new ways of working and self-management with values.
 
These became the texts that we used on Facebook and other adverts.
 
Theme 1: Are you seen as a rebel at work?
 
Do you believe that there is a different way to work—without bureaucracy and hierarchy?
 
Do you believe that you and your colleagues are at your best when you bring your whole self to work?
 
Do you want to join us in demonstrating that this is possible in health and social care?
 
Theme 2: Instead of using command and control, do you want to coach and support?
 
Do you ask questions when other people want to jump in and give advice?
 
Do you believe that you can trust people and still get the job done?
 
Theme 3: Are you ready to do the most meaningful work of your life?
 
Would you like opportunities to put your ideas into practice?
 
Do you believe that focussing on quality could be fun and not boring?
 
Do you believe that self-management could be the key to this?
 
We then looked for images to go with each of these three themes.
 
  1. Would these questions, information, or images be attractive to people who reflect our values too?
 
This question is really about checking that our values are still central within the advert questions and images.
 
  1. Given these answers, where and how would we need to advertise to make sure people would see us?
We used three approaches for this role:
 
  • Targeted Facebook adverts where we could specify the demographics and characteristics of the people we wanted to target. We did a Facebook advert for each of the three themes, looking for people who lived within twenty miles of Camden.
  • LinkedIn
  • The Council’s website
Below is an example of the test Facebook Advert we used and the image that we put with it.
At the end of this process, we welcomed Claire as the first Wellbeing Leader in Camden. This is what she said about the process: “It was with great excitement that I came across the job advertisement for the position of Wellbeing Leader for Camden. Not only is the position in alignment with my inherent beliefs, passions, and expertise, but the document ‘Could this be you?’ read as if it was developed from my own CV!”
 
If Camden had used a more traditional recruitment approach, they would have looked for someone within health and care who was already an experienced Registered Manager. Instead, they were able to separate out the values and characteristics needed by someone who could fill this role and trust that we could teach the successful candidate the skills they would need to excel.

 

Tania Jesney
Head of Resourcing and Volunteering
Dimensions
What are my reflections?
 
The concept of values-based recruitment is a familiar one as Dimensions implemented this approach for Support Workers a number of years ago, and we continue to recruit in that way today.  Around half of the Support Workers we hire have never worked in social care before, but they all share the core Dimensions values, and I hear incredible success stories all the time of fantastic Support Workers from all sorts of backgrounds. We also follow a similar approach as described for our advertising campaigns, however, what I found particularly inspiring in this blog was how it demonstrates stretching values-based recruitment beyond entry-level roles to more senior positions can work just as well too.  That is something I will take away and reflect on for our organisation, as in these challenging market conditions where there are labour shortages across the board, focusing more on the values and characteristics required for roles, rather than experience, could unlock hidden candidates that we would have otherwise overlooked, widening the talent pool.   
 
What does this mean for my organisation/the sector?
 
I know that many organisations in our sector already recruit Support Workers based on values, but I wonder how many of them adopt this approach for more senior roles?
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