Recruitment and retention best practice

This resource includes information to support councils create a structured and effective recruitment process using the six P’s: Plan, Promote, Process, Partnerships, People and Pledge.

The LGA understands the challenges councils face with recruitment and retention of employees. Creating an effective recruitment journey can be a long process, but the LGA has resources to support you through this. At a time of increasing pressures on services, councils are continuing to report recruitment difficulties, so it's important to develop an effective recruitment plan. 

This resource includes information to support the creation of a structured and effective recruitment process using the six P’s:

1. Plan

Addressing your capacity challenges starts with understanding your workforce needs. For councils this means having an effective approach to workforce planning. Your strategic workforce plan aims to create effective process for recruitment and retention of employees. It is important for you to understand what skills your council currently has, and where there are gaps. This can be focusing on your council’s corporate reputation and how you engage your target audience Consideration needs to be made towards short-, medium- and long-term objectives.

Strategic Context 

Workforce focus

Capacity challenge – workforce blog

LGIU Workforce planning practice in public sector

Support to undertake workforce planning

Workforce planning guide and toolkit

Workforce planning for senior leadership teams and managers.

Workforce planning MOT offer

Workforce planning skills support

Support for HR teams

Deep dive people analytics

2. Promote

As a sector we have over 800 different professions and whilst this is a strength in terms of the work and career opportunities we can offer people, it can also be a hindrance as we struggle to clearly promote what we do and the benefits of working for and in local government to attract new candidates.  As the labour market becomes more and more competitive with higher rates of employment and scarce skills due to a lack of supply in many graduate based professions it is vital that councils present a strong employer value proposition within their brand. Promotion will vary depending on the candidates you seek to hire but to be competitive you need to be confident you have a strong local employer brand. For certain occupations you can raise your profile through professional networks promoting your successes. Always take advantage of and use existing promotional tools and recruitment platforms to widen your reach. Longer term workforce planning, and an engagement strategy focused on future talent will address the short-term problems faced now in the future. Engaging young people is an important first step to create a talent pipeline (see section below on people to see what support is available to target specific candidates).

The Local government - Employee value proposition 

The employee value proposition (EVP) is a part of your employer branding, it is a key part in how you promote and market your council to prospective talent, (it also is how you retain staff in a competitive job market).

Your EVP should:

  • communicate the values and culture of your council,
  • explain what your employee benefits and reward packages are including pensions, personal allowances, flexible working and career opportunities
  • focus on your support for staff wellbeing and promote inclusion and a diverse workforce.

The way you present your EVP should be reflected across the council from your website, any promotional literature, and in the working and environment. However, the most impactful way to demonstrate your EVP is through your existing employees by promoting your brand through the voices of your people. To measure your EVP see our support pages.

Useful links

Creating your employer brand

Reward strategies for local government

Local government pensions

Local government workforce pay and conditions 

Attracting people to work in social care

View West Midlands combined authority promotion to young people

3. Process

Your council will need to be innovative with its recruitment plan and how you engage and communicate with potential employees. Creating a positive recruitment and onboarding process, will create a more welcoming environment for potential candidates. As a council you may need to think of new ways of recruiting and engaging new employees. You will also need to ensure the vacancy advert appeals to and reaches your target audience. More flexibility in the role will be another way to increase the number of individuals considering local government as a career path.  

Useful links

Getting the process right – CIPD Guide  

Timewise approach to flexible hiring  

Values based recruitment in social care

Using talent pools

Widening your social care talent pool

Case studies

East of England LGA’s Talent Bank

Grow your own: Somerset County Council

View Bristol City Councils web page to attract potential hires

4. Partnerships

Consider which partners you are working with to build your recruitment pipeline. Working with Further Education/Higher Education institutions will allow you to promote local government as a career path. Depending on the role you may want to partner with professional bodies to devise strategies for increasing the number of people entering the workforce. 

Useful links

Regional employers’ organisations

Leading Places LGA pilot scheme to bring employers, FE and HR together

Association of colleges working with employers

Strategic Development Network working with employers 

5. People

It is important to consider your current employees, with a focus on retention. As a council you will want to create a positive working environment and give people a reason to stay in the sector. Consider what rewards and benefits you can implement, as well as offering a clear career progression plan.

Engaging a wider workforce

Early careers

Return to work programmes

National Graduate Development Programme

T Levels in local government

Equality, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace

Support for the recruitment of senior officers and chief executives in local government

Government support schemes 2023

Culture and employee wellbeing

Workforce wellbeing

Employee engagement

Mental health


Flexible working and work-life balance

Creating effective teams: Emergenetics Psychometric Profiling

Sector specific

Return to Social Work

Overseas recruitment bite-size guide for social care providers in England Strategic partnerships

How we can keep social workers in the profession

Building control apprenticeships

Become a town planner

6. Pledge

Councils working together to save money and to promote career opportunities in local government is an excellent way of engaging with potential employees. Sharing best practice will aid inspiration and allow councils to implement successful strategies.

Useful links

Agency Social Work MoUs | ADCS

The Memorandum of Co-operation on Children's Agency Social Workers | London Councils

Further case studies