Personnel Today Awards 2020: Resourcing Supplier of the Year shortlist

The winners of the 2019 Personnel Today awards celebrate their achievements

Third parties have a key role in producing results for HR teams and helping them to achieve their commercial goals. We profile the companies shortlisted in this year’s Resourcing Supplier of the Year Award at the Personnel Today Awards. 

Aon’s Assessment Solutions for Serco

Serco manages six prisons, employing 1,200 prison custody officers and the same number of escort custody service employees, hiring 400 people into these roles annually. Staffing levels are up to 100% from 86% from two years ago but turnover is still high at 40%, with 47% leaving in the first 12 months. This means recruitment is a massive task, and Serco wanted to innovate its application process.

Serco worked with Aon Assessment Solutions to build a process where candidates could de-select themselves early on if they thought the risks and realities of prison work were too much, and where they could self-assess their attitude, skills and mindset to understand the impact they could have. It wanted to automate the process to reduce manual recruitment, and refocus the work of the team on attraction and candidate experience. It also needed to make the experience more engaging and educational, improve staffing levels and attrition, and reduce candidate numbers but provide stronger shortlists.

The new process enables candidates to complete a job pathfinder to see which role they are more suited (or not); there is a situational judgment questionnaire involving realistic scenarios produced in prisons and prison vehicles; and there is then an assessment centre to help Serco understand candidates’ resilience, whether they can manage conflict and what they would do in hypothetical situations. Another key element was a series of videos filmed inside the prison walls while prisoners were on the wing, which give a realistic and raw sense of what a prison looks and feels like.

Personnel Today Awards 2020

The Personnel Today Awards are going online this year! Register here and join us in celebrating the winners on 26 November.

The changes have saved on administration costs through automating the recruitment process, have created a competitive edge as officers choose to stay, with a 10% reduction in turnover within 12 months. The videos and situational judgment tests are not used in other prison services and help well-suited candidates find their vocation and others to deselect. Anthony Kirby, Group HR director at Serco, sums up: “We needed to address the problem at its root cause – recruiting the right people with empathy, resilience and confidence – yet we needed to make it really clear that this role is about making tough choices.”


HealthSectorTalent for NI Department of Health

Northern Ireland’s health and social care system employs 58,000 people and includes the Department of Health, Public Health, five NHS Trusts and Northern Ireland’s Ambulance Service. The system came under significant pressure during the coronavirus pandemic, with increased demand for services, higher than usual sickness absence and the need to rapidly build a contingent workforce. It also needed to facilitate the recruitment of final-year medical, nursing and allied health students, alongside doctors and nurses that had either retired or left the profession.

HealthSectorTalent supported NI’s DoH to assemble a recruitment project team made up of key stakeholders, forming a central recruitment command and control centre to act as a single point of contact. Application and interview processes needed to adhere to protocols while working around restrictions such as social distancing and remote working. Over the course of 35 days, a team of 162 people working across nine organisations delivered the largest recruitment campaign of its kind in Northern Ireland.

Candidates had to complete a two-step registration and application, selecting their occupation group and preferred geographical location. A total of 20,085 initial expressions of interest were received by the campaign with over 4,000 in the first 24 hours of being launched. These then needed to be screened before formal application – 11,642 formal applications were completed representing a 57.9% conversion rate from expressions of interest received. Candidates were kept updated at every stage of the process.

While there is no directly comparative data as the pandemic was a new challenge, the success of the recruitment campaign can be measured against the Republic of Ireland’s Covid-19 hiring drive, which only resulted in 63 candidates starting. In Northern Ireland, 420 nurses were recruited directly by six employers, bypassing the need to use agencies. The equivalent cost of recruiting this number of nurses from overseas would be over £4.6m, while the reduction in agency spend is around £19.4m per annum based on an hourly inclusive rate of £23.71.


SMRS for Balfour Beatty

Infrastructure company Balfour Beatty wanted to build an employer brand that reflected the fact its reach went far beyond the world of construction. It wanted to create more of an emotional connection, to better compete for candidates with niche skills and support a wider shift in the way its resourcing team worked. The new brand had to span the entire talent lifecycle, convey the complexity and scale of the business, as well as provide consistency during a period of industry upheaval.

SMRS has changed perceptions of the construction business and shaped the entire talent lifecycle at the company. First, it gathered opinions from the workforce via a survey of almost 1,200 staff, as well as asking candidates and suppliers for their thoughts. Focus groups and interviews with senior leaders, together with the survey findings, came together in a 397-page report. The research concluded that Balfour Beatty’s key attributes were to leave a legacy; spark something; work to be proud of; control your career; include everyone; and join the journey. These values came under the umbrella of ‘Shape Everything’.

The company has brought the values to life in a number of ways, including an ‘essence’ video, a new careers site, a specialist recruitment campaign for hard-to-find IT professionals, an employee referral programme, bespoke line manager communications and connections to learning and development. One highlight is a ‘Shape Everything’ branded internal mobility portal that will make opportunities across the company more visible.

Over the last 12 months, this has generated 304 sign-ups for the internal mobility programme; reduced agency reliance from 9% of hires to 6%; reduced time to hire by three days; reduced cost per hire by a third and increased the overall number of hires from 1,162 between January and September 2019 to 1,317 this year.

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