Engage: Why recruiting for values is vital in social care

Adult social care is a people business. At its heart, it’s about making a positive difference in the lives of people that require support. It is about human connection. It is about caring.

The challenge that we have as a sector is that not everyone is well-equipped to do these things. To be a great care worker, I would argue, takes a special person. Somebody who has a core set of values that allow them to be empathetic and to want to make a difference in other people’s lives.

So how do we find these people, and how do we implement a recruitment process that takes values into account? Many providers will say that they’re using values-based recruitment, but what that translates to in reality varies considerably. This will range from adding a vague question about values at the end of a traditional interview to implementing a robust, transparent and measurable values-based recruitment process. My challenge would be to ask yourself how effectively you are doing it in reality.

There are a number of reasons why it’s important to implement values-based recruitment in your workplace, but I will pick out three particular things that it provides:

# 1 – Focus on the individual

While skills can be taught and experience gained, core values are inherent to the individual. Recruiting to values can allow us to widen our perspective regarding who would be a good care worker within our workplace. Instead of focussing on experience alone in our recruitment processes, we can ask questions through application packs and assessments that enable people to demonstrate how their values and behaviours would fit with our workplace culture and values.

#2 – Quality

My experience of engaging with ‘Outstanding’ care providers and providers that are driving innovation is that they always have a clear set of values. Not only that, but they have a culture that lives and breathes those values in reality, not just on a piece of paper. These are employers with a clear sense of what they want to achieve as an organisation to best deliver services to the people they’re supporting and are able to recruit staff who share that vision.

#3 – The bottom line

There are also financial, practical and pragmatic reasons why recruiting for values is important. Workforce churn is a huge issue in adult social care, with a turnover rate of 32%. The recruitment costs to employers as a result of this are very expensive. If we recruit people with the right values, they’re not only likely to be better and more productive workers, but they are also more likely to stay. Skills for Care’s research shows that for every £1 invested in a values-based recruitment approach, there’s a return of £1.23 on that investment. Employers also tell us that workers recruited through a values-based approach are better at picking up the required skills for the role, perform better and have lower rates of sickness absence.

So how do I find out more?

Skill for Care has developed support and resources in relation to values-based recruitment over a number of years. These can be accessed in the recruitment support section of the Skills for Care website. Skills for Care has also recently published a toolkit for employers, which gives practical support in approaching values-based recruitment.


About The Author

Jon Kerr is  Head of Workforce Capacity at Skills for Care – the workforce development body for the adult social care sector in England. Skills for Care’s Workforce Capacity team focusses on recruitment and retention in the adult social care sector and provides support and guidance around a wide range of recruitment topics, including values-based recruitment and retention.

Picture (c) Skills For Care.