This section looks at some of the overarching issues involved in the recruitment process, in order to help an organisation get the right staff to deliver quality services.

The Case for Recruitment Processes

There are many issues surrounding building capacity that relate to the way that people are recruited and developed. Organisations need to be able to deliver improved services within a current framework of low unemployment, shortage of some key skills and tight financial constraints. Recruitment processes, therefore, need to fit in with the overall business needs of the organisation through a carefully planned and systematic approach to workforce planning. This should be accompanied by consideration of how service delivery is made and whether new ways of working would be more effective. The best responses to recruitment problems were ones which moved away from a primary focus on recruitment to a holistic focus on peoples' whole work experience.

Current initiatives include:

  • Closer attention to recruitment analysis
  • Open days
  • New Deal - back to work
  • Schemes to attract recruits from under-represented groups within the workforce
  • Return to work strategies
  • Recruitment fairs
  • Starter home initiatives
  • Key workers schemes
  • Golden hellos
  • Exit interviews
  • Workforce planning
  • Improving the image of the organisation


High turnover can be a problem, and there is clearly no point in investing huge amounts of time and energy to recruit the right people, only for them to leave shortly afterwards. However, it's important to keep an open mind about this, as high or moderate turnover in some work areas may be healthy, bringing in new people and fresh ideas. However, low turnover is usually more desirable, so the organisation needs to do enough to understand why it might be high, and work to address these issues. Line managers are in the best position to understand why turnover patterns might be happening.

It is undoubtedly a critical error for organisations not to understand why people are leaving, and then to make no attempt to impose strategies to reduce it or improve staff morale. Exit interviews are a good way of capturing such information, and, with the use of information technology, these should be relatively simple to introduce.

Planning for Success

Workforce planning activities are becoming a vital method of ensuring an organisation is employing the right kind of people, into the right jobs, and at the right time. It has been recognised that organisations which execute effective planning processes and deliver action plans as a result of them are far more likely to be successful.

Yet, the impact of equality legislation and the need to ensure that everyone is treated fairly, has led to a reduction of succession planning activities. Promotion from within must always be carefully managed to ensure that applicants from both external and internal sources are treated fairly. However, where individuals regularly cover for their manager, or have worked in the same area for a long time, this should, in effect lead to internal promotions, if continuous professional development is taken seriously. In the private sector it is common for business needs to lead to identifying people who have the capacity to grow and for them to be included in broad ranging succession planning activities.

Reducing Bureaucracy

Bureaucracy can put off potential applicants, not only because the recruitment process itself proves to be slow and bureaucratic. The procedures surrounding recruitment are generally driven by a desire to be fair. However, there may, in some cases, need to be a better balance between fairness and operating a quick and effective process. Careful consideration of policies and procedures may identify unnecessarily bureaucratic practices. Some organisations have a guidance approach to policy development for recruitment, where managers are trained in the necessary recruitment framework to underpin the recruitment process, but are free to tailor the overall procedure to suit the needs of that particular recruitment.

The key to this is that managers must ensure that each recruitment process is consistent, but that guidance is issued without unnecessarily bureaucratic rules and processes. The key to reducing bureaucracy for managers is to ensure that they are properly trained and fully understand the implications of the legal framework, the aims of the authority, and good practice in recruitment and selection.

Managing Quality

Quality assurance checks should be carried out to ensure that recruitment processes are a positive experience for applicants. This may be carried out through a questionnaire to applicants, asking managers how the process went, or through discussion with new recruits. Such checks could include:

  • Did the applicant feel that the process was fair?
  • Had applicants been given correct and sufficient information about the selection process e.g. if there was a test, were they told what sort of test it was, how long it would last etc?
  • Did the information given in the job pack and advert tally with what they were told at interview?
  • Were there any problems with administrative processes?
  • Additionally, it may be worth checking with some of the people who requested the information pack, but then did not apply, as to why they chose not to. This could be done through a written questionnaire or a telephone conversation.

One of the main tests of whether recruitment is successful is whether the person appointed is still with the organisation for a set period after taking up the post. Turnover figures linked to length of service should also be able to identify whether new people do stay with the organisation, whether recruitment processes accurately reflect the needs of the job, or whether induction periods are not properly managed.