Recruitment and retention blog

David Drewry, Workforce Adviser, gives us some insight into what councils can do to help recruitment and retention of staff.

David Drewry

Most people you may talk to, whether in local government or from a completely different sector, will often say ‘we have challenges with recruiting’ or ‘we just can’t keep our staff’.

It is one thing acknowledging that there is a recruitment and retention challenge, but what really needs to happen is putting plans in place. You might find during this blog I unashamedly refer to some of the LGA’s resources in a ‘recruitment and retention show and tell’…

So, what is the current situation? In the latest LGA Workforce Survey (2022), 90 per cent of all councils said they had a capability skills gap in at least one area. On top of this, nearly all respondents (94 per cent) said that they were experiencing recruitment and retention difficulties.

Not to repeat my previous blog, however, developing an early careers pipeline is an important step. This could be promoting local government as a career path or creating exciting entry level roles for the future workforce. Plug number 1…the LGA has created an early careers toolkit with resources and information to support with this. Whether it is creating a Career Ambassador Programme, offering work experience or industry placements or completing class talks, there are lots of opportunities to engage with the future workforce.

Reflecting on your recruitment journey could be a valuable use of time. At times we may be guilty of promoting a vacancy just like we have done in years gone by. However, how effective is this? The average attention space for an individual on the internet is eight seconds, so how engaging are your job descriptions? On top of this, competition with other organisations means some applicants may become despondent at the length of time it takes from application to start date. We have created a recruitment and retention best practice that uses the Six P’s to support councils create an effective recruitment journey. Speaking personally, I have always found it useful understanding the steps that are taken during the recruitment process.

So, what about retention. How do we keep our valuable colleagues in the public sector? The LGA Workforce Survey 2022 found just over a quarter of councils responding to the survey found flexible working to be the most effective recruitment and retention action. Reviewing your current processes to ensure you have effective wellbeing support is vital in retaining staff. I hear more councils developing Professional Development Programmes where current employees can gain experience in different services of the council and develop skills or gain qualifications.

There may be times when we are not actually promoting the different career paths or benefits of working in local government enough. One surprise applicants may find is the wide array of careers in our sector. Some councils have had great success in revamping their vacancy sections of their websites, just take a look at Essex and Swindon.

So, what would happen in an ideal world? We would spend time reviewing our recruitment process, truly understanding how effective they are. This would also include a focus on retaining our current employees. Again, my shameless plug to remind you of the resources and information available on our LGA Workforce page.

Lots to do and lots to think about. If you are planning to head down to the LGA’s Annual Conference in Bournemouth, our Senior Workforce Adviser, Suzanne Hudson, will be speaking about Recruitment and Retention…definitely worth attending. Suzanne will be speaking on the Wednesday (5 July) from 11.30 am. (final plug)!