Posted: 31 August 2021
Neil Eastwood started working in social care back in the late 1970s as a child when he helped elderly parishioners in his father’s church, before moving on to Allied Healthcare as a Director. Since then, Neil has become a thought leader in the sector.
In light of the current recruitment challenges facing the sector, Neil has recently provided free access to his online recruitment masterclass for all care providers. He’s also the founder of employee-referral recruitment app Care Friends.
Here we speak with Neil about the masterclass, his recruitment advice, and the importance of values-based recruitment.
Neil first set out to find out more about the best practices for recruitment and how to implement them in social care by taking inspiration from travelling around the USA, Australia, and Europe to gain insight into how other countries were managing recruitment in social care and how this could be applied back in the UK.
These travels led to the launch of Neil’s first book, ‘Saving social care’, which summarised his experiences and tips he discovered. The book led on to the creation of Neil’s recruitment masterclass, an online video-based course, which he first launched as a paid resource but has this year chosen to provide for free to social care employers in light of the current recruitment challenges.
Talking about his decision to release the masterclass now for free, Neil says:
“My feeling was: there’s all this research, all this practical information in one place and it should get out there, particularly now when it’s a real crisis.”
The masterclass was specifically developed for those recruiters who don’t have time to read a book or attend conferences, and who simply need access to bite-size, on-demand resources which they can fit around their busy schedules.
The masterclass is comprised of different modules covering recruitment fundamentals, attracting candidates; sourcing candidates; the recruitment process; screening and selection, as well as bonus material from other experts.
The course involves a range of activities including short video lessons, worksheets and quizzes and is aimed to be as interactive as possible.
“I’ve always been fascinated by how much we can keep improving the way we recruit, despite accepting there are a lot of things outside our control – such as Government policy”, says Neil.
One of the key takeaways from Neil’s recruitment masterclass is that different recruitment channels will deliver a different quality of candidates. Neil says:
“In my course I use the example of an onion; your care business is at the centre of the onion and the layers closest to that are sources who will give you the best quality staff. So that would be existing employees, people who have left and might come back, and supporters of you in the local community.
“My first tip would be for recruiters to think differently about where they look for applicants and diversify their sources. Don’t over-rely on one source. The second one would be around the process. For example, trying to find ways of responding to applicants much faster.”
Neil explains that it can be possible to lose good quality candidates who come in at the top end of the funnel but are lost during the process if they’re slow to receive a response.
He also advises responding to all applicants, even those who are unsuccessful, as this paints a good impression of your organisation and means that even unsuccessful candidates may mention your organisation positively to others looking to work in care.
Neil also advises:
“Recruitment doesn’t stop when they accept the job offer. We have to keep the communication going.”
He highlights that the on-boarding process for social care can almost always take longer than other sectors, due to background checks, and that it’s important to keep new recruits engaged during this process.
One suggestion Neil offers is:
“As soon as the job offer is accepted, send a welcome card to their home, if possible, signed by everyone in the team.”
Neil highlights that this doesn’t only show your new member of the team that you value them, but it’s also something which they can show their family and so get their family invested in their new role too.
Another tip from Neil, is that your newest employees may well be your best source for recruitment. He says that upon first joining an organisation is when employees are most likely to participate in an employee referral scheme, so ask them at this point if they have any referrals of other people who would be a good fit for the organisation.
Values-based recruitment is about prioritising finding candidates who match your organisations core values, rather than focusing solely on previous experience or qualifications.
“You need to understand first of all the values of your organisation and be really clear about what those are, and then you can map those to anyone joining”, says Neil.
“The way to do that is to ask questions to identify how they see the world and whether there’s an alignment of values.
“One example might be asking why they would like to apply to this particular organisation and why they’re looking to join social care if it’s their first job, and you start getting an insight into their value set and motivations.”
A key focus for Neil and his work is employee referrals, which is why he created the app Care Friends, launched in partnership with Skills for Care, which acts a digital employee referral tool.
Speaking of the power of employee referrals, Neil says:
“It’s a great example of baking in values as you’re asking your staff to pick people who they know display the values required for the role.
“That’s one of the reasons employee referrals are so powerful - because you’re using your staff to triage and identify people who they think would be excellent at the job, and that’s a great starting point for values-based recruitment.”
Neil Eastwood’s Recruitment Masterclass is available to access for free online. Find out more about Care Friends on their website.
Skills for Care has more information and support about recruitment in our #RecruitmentReady spotlight.