The importance of values-based recruitment in the social care sector

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Adult social care

Throughout the pandemic, the commitment and selflessness of adult social care workers has frequently been highlighted, especially those working in care home settings. Often risking their health to do their job, especially during the height of the pandemic in Spring 2020 when PPE was in short supply, public appreciation for this sacrifice was clearly evident through ‘clap for carers’.

Even outside of a crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic, social care work requires resilience among a number of other individual attributes. The work can be taxing, both physically and emotionally. It also requires patience, empathy and the ability to develop relational modes of working.

Recruiting for these attributes does not always lend itself to traditional approaches. Instead, through deploying recruitment methods which help providers to ascertain the underlying motivations and values of prospective applicants, employers can develop more effective workforces and also reduce turnover as a result.

Some within the social care sector have begun to adopt this approach. As outlined in our guide for social care employers published last week, providers are using values-based recruitment to help identify candidates well suited to adult social care work. Evidence would support the notion that social care work is vocational. When asked what factors would attract candidates outside of the sector into social care, our research found the three top reasons are:

· Knowing the job makes a difference (73%)

· Gaining satisfaction from caring for others (72%)

· Being proud to work in the sector (63%)

Values-based recruitment can help recruiters establish whether candidates hold the attitudes and behaviours needed for care work. For example, providers can set out their job advertisements in a way that ensures applicants will need to evidence their behaviours; interview questions can be constructed to prompt interviewees to give examples of how they have behaved in the past; and group assessment days can also be used to help gauge values.

The effectiveness of values-based recruitment is borne out in the evidence. An evaluation of a Skills for Care values-based recruitment toolkit shows that the approach is more effective than traditional modes of recruitment. Further, research has found that staff values based recruitment approaches attract staff who perform better, with lower sickness rates and who achieve greater success in developing the skills that are required in their roles.

Questions around the optimal approach to recruitment within the social care sector will be particularly pertinent at the moment. As our research highlighted, while recruitment has contracted across many sectors during the pandemic, this has not been the case for the care sector, with opportunities in the sector growing. New recruits have been joining from other sectors, particularly those affected by social distancing measures. Totaljobs analysis of 15,248 candidates shows that, between 2019-2021, 56% of those moving into social care roles did so from a different sector, such as customer service, retail, catering and sales, which together accounted for 26% of new entrants into the sector.

Our research also found that young people in particular are considering opportunities in the sector as part of improving public perceptions of social care work. In order for providers who are recruiting young candidates from outside of the sector to retain these staff, the use of values-based recruitment will be key and lead to a more effective workforce.

In our guide, we recommended that employers recruit to entry level roles based on values rather than skills and experience. Due to the pandemic, there now exists an opportunity to reframe what careers in the social care sector can offer and attract young people to develop and progress within it. Recruiting new entrants on the basis of values will be key to achieving this.

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