This article was originally published by UK Recruiter. You can view the original article here.
Nicola Sullivan, solutions director at candidate engagement tech firm Meet & Engage sees opportunities for digital tech to bring some welcome relief for recruiters in the struggling care sector, post Coronavirus.
Of all the business sectors to have experienced serious hardship throughout the pandemic, adult social care must surely score highly. With care homes in lockdown, for example, many managers are struggling just to maintain adequate levels of staffing and to keep their people safe.
The need for efficient and effective recruitment policies has never been greater but also probably never more challenging. This is a sector that had already been dealt a knock to its ability to retain and attract people – of the 1.3m UK care workers, 115,000 (8%) come from EU countries and will have to apply for ‘settled status’ if they want to remain in the UK after the end of this year.
This creates a significant degree of uncertainty over a workforce that is already dealing with over 120,000 unfilled vacancies. Add in the high turnover of employees in these jobs (over a third switch jobs each year) and you are looking at a very tough task for recruiters.
Keeping them keen
But I do see some glimmers of hope emerging, from the opportunities afforded by digital technologies to boost recruitment efficiency and take advantage of the seeds of change we’re now seeing in how care roles are regarded.
Smart use of digital techniques have much to offer the process of recruiting for care workers. One of the biggest problems is that essential DBS checks can take an average of six weeks, by which time many successful recruits might have accepted another role. The checks have to happen but we can keep candidates motivated along the way by organising a series of virtual events where an organisation can share useful content, livestream videos or host live chat sessions, all designed to keep candidates fully informed and engaged.
These virtual events could include a video Q&A featuring the organisation’s CEO, or live chat sessions where candidates can talk to current employees and ask questions about the role. Facilitating connections like this from early on in the process would help potential new starters feel a sense of connection to prospective colleagues as well as a bond with those who may become their managers.
Well-produced content like this could bring the benefits of the work to life in a way that could persuade candidates to hang on for the job rather than seeing it as a commodity that can be exchanged for another. There are also huge benefits in showing candidates that they are valued and welcome, and that they can reasonably expect this to continue once they are in their jobs.
Looking ahead to life post-pandemic, I am optimistic that people will regard care jobs in a much more positive light after seeing how important they have been to peoples’ lives during the crisis. It would be nice to be able to capitalise on this in the tone of content produced – for candidates to see video messages that reinforce the heroic nature of the role.
It remains to be seen whether this change in status of care jobs survives in the longer term in the wider social narrative. But I see no downside in care organisations underlining how important care workers have been during the course of coronavirus, and taking this tone forward in their recruitment communications as a way to motivate candidates.
Freeing recruiters’ time
Keeping potential recruits engaged is important. But equally, a live chat session describing a ‘day in the life’ of a care worker could help give a reality check to the job, meaning that candidates that might otherwise leave after a few weeks might drop out at that point. This would bring much more efficiency to the process, ensuring that recruiters’ valuable time is only spent on candidates most likely to stay for the long term.
Another area that we see opportunities for boosting efficiency is the screening phone call, often completed for many times the number of people who will eventually start work. It may be possible for this to be automated via chatbot technology, freeing up recruitment employees to spend more time on tasks that require human judgement and one to one interaction. It also allows candidates to complete the screening at a time that suits them – often out of working hours.
Making Onboarding consistent
One final use of digital tech in carer recruitment is in the crucial onboarding process just before and after a successful recruit starts their job. We know from talking to recruiters in this sector that a new starter’s experience at this point varies wildly, depending on the motivation of the hiring manager and resourcing levels. Whether the new starter receives an adequate induction may rest on a variety of factors.
There is a big opportunity at this point for the use of an online portal that takes the new recruit through all the essential information they need to know, ensuring that everyone is in receipt of the same information.
This system could also automate the receipt of the various pieces of paperwork that employees need to present, like references and right to work documentation – a process that often delays workers starting their new jobs.
So there are plenty of ways that digital tech can help raise the efficiency of recruitment in the care sector. But I regard the biggest possibilities to be around the way that recruiters and candidates can be connected up digitally during the process, whether that is through live chats, live streamed or pre-recorded video. All of these techniques can be used to give information about care jobs in a way that highlights their relational elements – often one of their key benefits.
In a sector that is arguably desperate for loyal people, this could prove to be a game-changer.