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What good looks like: Values-based recruitment in adult social care

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Evidence shows that values-based recruitment (VBR) can improve the recruitment and retention of people who perform better and are more satisfied in their care roles. Many councils are already implementing VBR, working collaboratively with system partners and employers, and engaging their staff and people who receive care in the process. This guide showcases good practice, success factors and evidence of what works in council-led VBR campaigns in different local contexts, to support sector-led improvement. It provides practical insights and advice for organisations wishing to adopt VBR, and a framework to help capture the impact of VBR campaigns.


Values-based recruitment (VBR) is an approach that enables organisations to recruit candidates with the values, behaviours and skills to make them an asset to any care organisation, regardless of whether they have formal qualifications or experience. By looking beyond the usual pool of candidates, VBR can improve the success of recruitment campaigns. VBR can also build a workforce that better reflects the diversity of the community served, and appoint people who will perform well in their role and experience high levels of job satisfaction.

VBR, and the benefits it brings, supports retention within the sector, where the most recent data shows a turnover rate of more than 28 per cent, rising to more than 45 per cent for those with less than one year of experience in their role. Multiple positive employment factors have been found to support people to stay in their role. These include working contracted hours (rather than zero-hours), being paid above the national living wage, and receiving sufficient training. These factors link closely to effective VBR approaches, as well as other tips for supporting retention in the sector.

A report by Skills for Care found that while prevalence of VBR is relatively high among councils, many struggle with implementing it and realising the benefits, and would value further guidance and support. Research has also found that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to VBR. This What good looks like guide therefore showcases good practice, success factors and evidence of what works in council-led VBR campaigns in different local contexts, to support sector-led improvement. It provides practical insights and advice for organisations wishing to adopt VBR, and a framework to help capture the impact of VBR campaigns. 

This guide is based on a review of published resources and literature, and interviews with councils and stakeholders with experience of putting VBR into practice. It is designed to support councils and employers wishing to implement the full cycle of VBR activities.

This guide consists of:

  • six case studies showcasing good practice in VBR
  • ten features of a good VBR campaign
  • capturing the impact of VBR campaigns
  • practical tips for adopting VBR
  • links to useful resources

This guide has been developed by John Illingworth, Independent Consultant, and Associate for the Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College London, on behalf of Partners in Care and Health (PCH). 

Case studies showcasing good practice in VBR

Ten features of a good VBR campaign

The 10 features of a good VBR campaign are drawn from the practice and innovative ideas adopted by the councils featured in the case studies. A common thread across all of the councils was the importance of taking a targeted place-based approach. The approach builds on the strengths of, and responds to, the local context, and seeks to overcome the barriers to employment experienced by local communities.

A publication by IMPACT (2023) highlighted that VBR has implications beyond recruitment, on how organisations and employers operate as a whole. Our research also drew this conclusion. Therefore, underpinning the 10 features of a good VBR campaign is a recognition that this work must be more than just a campaign – it should involve wider work to co-design and make explicit your values, ensure workers feel valued and appreciated, and reflect back your values to the community as part of every interaction.

1. Define your values

Put time aside to discuss, agree and make explicit your values. The values should reflect the beliefs that are important to you in the way that you work, both with colleagues and people receiving care. Examples could include kindness, compassion, respect or empowerment of people to live their best life.

Exercises like Clone the Care Worker can translate these values into the characteristics you are looking for in candidates, and inform your campaign materials.

Make your values explicit in job advertisements, person specifications, and appraisal documents, which can help to create a more positive narrative around a career in social care.

See the Leicestershire County Council and Gloucestershire County Council case studies to see how they did this in practice.

2. Engage your stakeholders

Work closely with employers and people in your services, for instance, by running an engagement event to understand the specific challenges they face. This can foster closer relationships, and create a pool of teams ready to work alongside you to test new VBR approaches.

Speak to your care workers to understand their motivations and why they love their job, using these insights to create positive, ‘strengths-based’ messaging in your campaign.

Engage with your local communities to understand the barriers they face to employment, such as support with childcare costs and transport.

See the Bury Council, Wigan Council and North Lincolnshire Council case studies to see how they did this in practice.

3. Make it personal

Involve staff in creating carer profiles to bring the roles to life, using film, photography and personal testimony, and publicising on social media.

Feature care workers from backgrounds or demographic profiles that you wish to target, such as younger workers, male workers, or people seeking a career change.

Use your employees as ‘Ambassadors’ at engagement events, to give a ‘real world’ perspective on working in the care sector.

See the North Lincolnshire Council, Leeds City Council We Care Academy and Wigan Council case studies to see how they did this in practice.

4. Make it local

Build relationships in your local community, understand the key barriers to recruitment, and tailor your approach and messaging to your identified target audience.

Run local recruitment events, as experience shows people who face barriers to employment can feel more comfortable in their own locality.

Visit areas with the highest vacancy rates, and use venues that will appeal to your target demographic, such as religious venues.

Run drop-in days in care settings that are particularly hard to recruit to, so that jobseekers can meet people first-hand and dispel any preconceptions about the role.

See the Leeds City Council We Care Academy and Wigan Council case studies to see how they did this in practice.

5. Widen the talent pool

Offer support to people who may face barriers to employment, or have not previously considered a career in care – such as people with learning disabilities, those who may be anxious about interviews, and people lacking minimum qualifications.

Ideas include Introduction to Care programmes, sending interview questions in advance, working in partnership with colleges and job centres, and adopting inclusive approaches to recruitment.

See the North Lincolnshire Council and Gloucestershire County Council case studies to see how they did this in practice.

6. ‘Upend’ the process

View the process from the candidates perspective, to bring the best out of them and reduce the barriers to employment.

Use simple ‘contact us’ forms, compatible with smart phones, so people can hear more about the roles available.

Have an initial conversation as the first step in the process, so candidates can learn whether a career in care is right for them, and to better match their interests and aspirations to roles and care settings.

Only request key information from candidates at the beginning, such as why they are interested, what they will bring to the role, and in what area they wish to work.

See the Bury Council and Wigan Council case studies to see how they did this in practice.

7. Assess for values

Draw on people’s informal caring experience such as with family and friends, and transferable skills from other service industries such as retail or hospitality.

Online situational judgement tests, such as Curious about Care, identify people’s values by using scenarios, regardless of their past experience.

Assessments and interviews can involve other team members, and people with lived experience, to reflect back the values you are recruiting for.

Interviews should focus on probing for people’s motivations, and what is important to them, rather than their past achievements.

See the Leicestershire County Council and Leeds City Council We Care Academy case studies to see how they did this in practice.

8. Take a system view

Work collaboratively with partners across the health and care system.

Consider setting up and participating in consortiums with neighbouring councils to share good ideas and learning from past recruitment.

Other ideas include workforce hubs to collectively address workforce gaps, and developing locality strategies and joint recruitment campaigns to adopt a more unified approach to recruitment.

Work closely with in-house teams and external employers to better understand the workforce challenge being faced.

See the Bury Council and Gloucestershire County Council case studies to see how they did this in practice.

9. Live your values

Embed VBR within all workforce activities, including management, appraisal and professional development.

Introduce wellbeing and other incentives to overcome some of the practical barriers to employment, such as childcare costs or transport.

Embedding wellbeing and other incentives ensures that employees feel valued and appreciated and improves staff retention.

See the Wigan Council and North Lincolnshire Council case studies to see how they did this in practice.

10. Capture the impact

Collect data on website and social media engagement to understand the initial impact of your campaigns compared to previous approaches.

Capture data on retention, job satisfaction and performance to understand the success of appointments.

Personal stories, from care workers and people being cared for, can be highly effective for future marketing campaigns and to showcase impact.

See the Leeds City Council We Care Academy and Wigan Council case studies to see how they did this in practice.

Capturing the impact

Values-based recruitment has been proposed as a promising approach to help address some of the workforce issues in the sector. An evidence scan (2023) found that, overall, evidence to date on VBR is limited. However, research based on a survey of the sector (2016) shows that nearly three-quarters of employers report that staff employed and supported using a ‘values based’ approach perform better than those recruited through ‘traditional’ methods. Employers using such approaches also reported turnover rates more than 5 per cent lower than those not using VBR approaches. 

Our own research found that organisations using VBR approaches report the following benefits:

  • increased numbers of job enquiries, applications and interviews.
  • improved recruitment success rate, converting 60-80 per cent of interviews into appointments in many cases.
  • tackling negative preconceptions and dispelling myths about working in the sector.
  • widening the talent pool by reaching more diverse sections of the community that may have been ignored through previous approaches.
  • appointing candidates who are more suited to the role, share an alignment with the organisational values, and remain satisfied for longer.

We found that data on the impact of VBR is not routinely collected. This data can be important to understand whether and how your campaign is working, how it can be improved, and to demonstrate good use of resources. 

To support this, we have developed an impact framework. The framework compiles a range of potential measures you can use to capture the impact and benefit of your VBR campaign. This is not about adding to the data burden, but instead making use of data already collected as much as possible. The information may also be used for other purposes, such as informing your marketing materials and recruitment strategy. 

Impact framework

Impact measures

Short term Four to six weeks

  • Advert views
  • Social media engagement, for example, clicks, reactions, shares
  • Enquiries
  • Applications (including proportion who met minimum criteria)
  • Interviews
  • Offers including proportion who accepted the offer
  • Diversity, for example sector experience, demographic (compared to existing workforce)
  • Other qualitative feedback, for example candidate and employer feedback

Medium-term Three to 12 months

  • Retention* (at three, six and 12 months)
  • Recruiting success (starters passing probation)
  • Time to fill vacancy (from advert to acceptance)
  • Cost to hire*
  • Job satisfaction, for example through staff survey
  • Understanding of values-fit, for example through staff survey, one to one management
  • Suitability and values-fit, for example through manager feedback, 360 feedback
  • Performance, for example through appraisal, line management, absence

Long term One to three years

  • Turnover*
  • Agency spend
  • Job rating, for example staff who would recommend role
  • Impact on relationships, for example with local communities, providers, system partners
  • Impact on care quality,* for example CQC rating, feedback from service users
  • Impact on public perception, for example through survey
  • Return on investment (based on campaign cost, hire cost and staff turnover)
  • Other indirect consequences, for example recruitment through friends and family

How do these measures compare to previous campaigns?

What case studies, personal stories or testimonies can also be used to show impact?

*Data available from Skills for Care

The impact framework encourages organisations to think about impact by selecting relevant measures over different timescales in order to answer the following questions:

  • short-term (four to six weeks): Did people see our campaign, and act on it?
  • medium-term (three to 12 months): Did this interest translate into suitable appointments, and did we recruit in a timely and efficient way?
  • long-term (one to three years): Did our campaign have a positive overall impact on our organisation, our staff and the people we care for? 

To support the collection of impact data:

  • think about the problem you are trying to address: Select measures to understand your progress on the challenge you originally identified, for example recruitment, retention, diversity, reaching under-served groups.
  • think about data from the beginning: Decide who collects the data, how often, for how long, and what the comparison is (for example, a previous campaign that used a ‘traditional’ approach).
  • think about the wider impact: Capture qualitative feedback to complement the quantitative data, from candidates, service users and system partners.

Practical tips

Some final practical tips are set out below to support you on your journey to implementing VBR:

  1. Create videos to bring jobs to life, use the power of stories to show the impact care workers can have on people’s lives, and promote them on social media platforms to reach a wider audience.
  2. Involve your staff by featuring them in your marketing materials, and involve people receiving care in the recruitment process, such as on interview panels or by helping to host drop-in days.
  3. See things from the candidate’s perspective. Have informal conversations with potential candidates before they apply, create simple ‘mobile-friendly’ application forms, and stay in touch with them throughout the process.
  4. Introduce benefits to ensure people feel valued, such as help with child care costs or transport, and by offering flexible working arrangements. [See Flexible working in social care].
  5. Be proactive, visit areas with the highest vacancy rates, host drop-in days in units that are difficult to recruit to, and run recruitment events in facilities that will help reach your target demographic, for example religious venues or leisure centres.


Links to relevant documents and resources have been included throughout this guide. Further information on the following topics can be found using the links below:

Supporting evidence and data

Resources for implementing VBR

Resources for supporting your workforce