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Gloucestershire County Council: Aligning recruitment campaigns to council values and strengthening ties to the local communities

This case study forms part of the publication, 'What good looks like: values-based recruitment in adult social care.' It showcases the benefits of alighting recruitment campaigns to council values and strengthening ties to the local communities.

Key points

  • All aspects of recruitment – from adverts to assessment processes – were updated to reflect the council’s values, which had been co-developed with employees.
  • A wide range of engagement events were run with local partners to widen the talent pool and attract people who share the council’s values.
  • A collaborative approach with neighbouring councils and health system partners enables the sharing of good ideas in recruitment and closer working relationships.


Gloucestershire is a county in the south west of England. The county is predominantly rural, with a population of 646,000. The proportion of people over 65 in the county is higher than the England average.

The increasing proportion of the population who are aged 65 and over, as well as higher numbers of people with disabilities, contribute to increasing demand on social care. These demographics, as well as the rural geography in some parts of the county, contribute to recruitment challenges and increase the complexity of workforce planning.

What problem did you seek to address?

As part of its response to the workforce challenge, Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) recognised the importance of aligning its organisational values – accountability, integrity, empowerment, respect and excellence – with its existing workforce and future jobseekers. The aim was to attract top talent to its workforce and retain that talent, as well as strengthen ties with the local communities:

"We wanted to attract like-minded individuals who would be good representatives of the council… [but] we also recognised that it was important for individuals coming into their role that they understood their contribution to this, because we want them to feel involved.” A council representative

By giving more attention to embedding the organisation’s values, and reflecting them back to the community, the council wanted to shift the mindset of people when they think about a career in social care, and counter some of the negative perceptions:

"I spoke to somebody the other day who said, ‘I could go out and get a proper job’. And I thought, this is a proper job. There's so much that they can gain from this [experience], by just explaining to them about where they could go [in their career].” A council representative

What did you do?

The council co-designed its organisational values, through an employee engagement survey, employee voice groups, and feedback from senior leaders and members. As a result, the values set out ‘the way we work, they define our culture and identify what we care about’. To put the values into practice as part of its adult social care recruitment, the team then implemented a number of steps set out below.

Updating the recruitment process

The values are incorporated into advertisements, job descriptions, interview questions and assessment processes. Values and behaviours are assessed in interview to understand how people would interact with the people they care for, as well as with colleagues. This is tested using scenario-based questions. The team has also developed a toolkit which includes questions that recruiting managers can choose from to assess for values and behaviours, doing so in a more positive, strengths-based way:

"We find that this approach is much more positive… it’s not just about saying, ‘you need this, you need that’, which can make people feel demotivated. It’s more about ‘if you share our values then we want to speak to you’, and people can align with that.” A council representative

Running local events with community partners

The team worked closely with a wide range of local community organisations to tap into the rich talent pool within the community. They ran 18 events in 2023, and have 24 events planned for 2024, in locations ranging from libraries to leisure centres. They also use the One Gloucestershire bus alongside NHS partners, to get the message across that if people share their values, and they appear well suited, they’ll be supported throughout the application and interview process:

"We went out into the community, strengthening our ties with those communities, meeting people from a wide range of more disadvantaged backgrounds, people who could make a big impact and really complement our teams. It also helped them see the council in a different light – that we’re not a big building where things happen behind the scenes.” A council representative

Widening the talent pool

The team worked with wider system partners to attract people with disabilities, or those who may be particularly anxious about interviews, by working with the employment skills hub and adult education team. They worked with Prospect Training to run an event aimed at people who have experienced many challenges in their lives, offering a route into a social care career. They also found that, by inviting one of their Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) social workers to events such as Compass, they could tell their own personal story to really engage people:

"They were someone who was really struggling, but received support from our social workers and realised that they wanted this as a career – they wouldn’t be the social worker today without that experience, and they’re now on the pathway to become a senior member of the team.” A council representative

Who was involved?

  • The team worked in partnership with Gloucestershire College, the University of Gloucestershire, Department for Work and Pensions, Prospect Training, Seetec Pluss (a provider of work and wellbeing services), and GCCs Community Development Support Team at the Friendship Café.
  • A new South West Consortium for adult social care has been established, where councils work closely and share good ideas around recruitment and retention. This is being further developed alongside the ADASS workforce strategy for a joined-up approach and to maximise the opportunities this will bring.
  • They have taken a more collaborative approach under the umbrella of One Gloucestershire – the local integrated care system. This has involved an alignment of values across the system, involving HR business partners and recruitment leads:

"Historically, there’s been, almost, a divide between health and social care. So ‘One Gloucestershire’ was about bringing it together, working more closely, and realising we’re not competing against one another… 

"Yes, we are competing for a specialised workforce. But we also agree that ideas can be shared, and that people wouldn't necessarily want to compete with each other all the time. And we find by doing that, we’re working more closely together, with so many positive discussions, so it’s really helpful.”

What was the impact?

  • In 2023, the value-based recruitment approach and increased community engagement resulted in a 72 per cent success rate for appointing candidates through event attendance alone.
  • The recruitment campaigns have attracted individuals from a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives. This has helped to improve their retention rates and reduce their vacancy rates across the service (see below):

Vacancy rate

Service Q3 2022/23 Q3 2023/24 Variance
ASC operations 15.9% 11.2% -4.7%
Adults inhouse services 19.2% 15.4% -3.8%

Turnover rate

Service Q3 2022/23 Q3 2023/24 Variance
ASC operations 13.2% 9.8% -3.4%
Adults inhouse services 14.6% 11.7% -2.9%
  • GCCs 2023 employee engagement survey demonstrated how the emphasis on values has translated into a positive organisational culture.
    • 99 per cent of staff ‘understand our values’
    • 92 per cent feel that their line manager is approachable and demonstrates the council’s values and associated behaviours
    • 89 per cent of staff know how their team contributes to the council’s vision and values.

What makes it good?

  • ‘One Gloucestershire’: Taking a collaborative approach with health and wider system partners has supported a more aligned and collaborative approach to recruitment and the sharing of good ideas.
  • Fostering good relationships: The team developed excellent working relationships with a range of local organisations to widen the talent pool and attract people from under-served sections of the community.
  • 'Living the values’: The council placed equal focus on embedding the organisational values among its workforce, and developing a positive organisational culture, as on highlighting them to potential jobseekers through campaigns.

Further information


Gloucestershire County Council Adult Social Care Recruitment


Yasmin Purchase, Deputy Head of Adult Services and Business Development, Gloucestershire County Council,
Email: [email protected]

Tanya Ross, Recruitment and Retention Team Leader (Adult Services and Business Development), Gloucestershire County Council
Email: [email protected].