Attracting Top Interim Talent in the NHS

During the last 18 months, the NHS interim recruitment market has witnessed several significant changes. From applied maximum pay and charge rates for temporary workers to the change to IR35 assessments, leading to significantly higher taxes for many compared with a like-for-like private sector contract. These two factors combined make interim work within the NHS less attractive compared to just a year and a half ago. Add to this the potential impact of Brexit and you have a great deal of uncertainty and worry when it comes to the future of interim talent in the NHS.

The NHS must face the reality that recent changes will result in a significant proportion of the industry’s best and most specialist contractors seeking work elsewhere. With proven and reputable interims leaving the industry for pastures new, this newly created resource gap will need to be filled with other candidates, in many instances individuals with little or no experience working in the NHS.

PREMIUM CONTENT: International recruitment by the NHS

In order to attract this new talent to the sector effectively, each NHS organization will need to offer best practice when it comes to recruitment processes and candidate propositions. This often doesn’t need to involve a total upheaval of recruitment tools and techniques, but more the guarantee that the basics are occurring within their own hiring function.

There are five key areas that the NHS will need to focus on in order to improve their chances of securing the necessary quality of interim talent required to deliver their core goals. These rules can equally apply to both permanent and interim candidate attraction.

  1. Brand Proposition. For years the NHS has relied on simply working for the organization being enough to attract candidates. However, with the current strain on services and staff higher than ever before, combined with the take-home pay restrictions, this may no longer be the case. Therefore, each individual NHS organization needs to consider doing things slightly differently to attract top talent:
  • What is unique about your particular NHS organization’s culture and ways of working that make you stand out? E.g., working benefits, learning and development etc.
  • How clearly is your organization’s individual brand advertised and sold on your website and on the job specifications you produce?
  • Most importantly, in how much detail do the people undertaking recruitment for your organization truly understand the above points and proactively sell your brand and benefits to candidates in the market?
  1. Understanding the importance of selling the role in an attractive way. It is important for NHS recruiters to be afforded more time with hiring line managers to make sure they are have the following:
  • A comprehensive job description, detailing the purpose of the role and desired outputs, duties and responsibilities, anticipated length of assignment, breakdown of team, culture and environment etc.
  • A person specification – competencies, requisite skills and experience (essential and desirable), personal attributes, qualifications.
  • An understanding of the opportunity for the candidate and what the role could mean for their own development.
  • An open discussion on current market salary/rate expectations and candidate availability. If the required skills and experience exceed the banding assigned to the position, are contingency plans in place to re-evaluate the job and person specifications if required?
  1. Candidate attraction – active and passive. Every NHS recruiter, both internal and agency, should consider the following:
  • How well developed are your candidate networks outside of the core NHS candidate market? Are your recruitment partners successful in other sectors and are they capable of introducing candidates from outside the NHS with transferable skills?
  • What media do your advertisements go out on? It is increasingly important that your adverts are placed on a greater number of core and niche job boards.
  • Does your recruitment function actively approach the passive job market and headhunt where necessary?
  1. Interviewing techniques. People recruiting for the NHS should guarantee that candidates go through the following interview vetting as a minimum:
  • Structured face-to-face interviews, including a thorough review of skills, qualifications, experience and abilities, and incorporating role-specific questions.
  • Technical tests and psychometric tests where appropriate.
  • A full referencing process, including both verbal and written references to guarantee the accuracy of the candidate’s work history and to assess their fit for your role and organization.
  1. Post-offer and induction process. A new recruit who feels welcome and able to contribute fully is more likely to stay for the long run, so it is essential to ensure that the induction process includes:
  • Prior planning to ensure they have all the information they require prior to their start date and access to all the tools and technology they need to do their job from day one.
  • A detailed plan for their first day to make sure that the new starter is introduced to and welcomed by their new colleagues.
  • Coverage of all necessary company and legislative policies; but try not to overburden with too much paperwork and induction on the first day.
  • Provision of clear development and training plans, whilst also clarifying the manager’s expectations and targets for the early stages of the new starter’s role.
  • Regular reviews booked to update on performance progress and give the new starter the opportunity to voice any concerns.

MORE: Align your candidate verification procedures with NHS trusts 


Nicola Linkleter

Nicola Linkleter
Nicola Linkleter is president of professional staffing, Adecco Group UK & Ireland.

Nicola Linkleter

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