Building inclusive recruitment at Mencap

Written by
Mary Appleton

21 Mar 2017

21 Mar 2017 • by Mary Appleton

On the organisation's vision

We want to see a world where people with a learning disability are valued equally, listened to and included in society. People with a learning disability face inequalities in every area of life. We need to tackle these issues head-on by changing society’s attitudes, influencing people who shape policy and practice, and empowering and directly supporting more individuals to lead fulfilled lives.

On building future talent pools

Mencap has adopted a framework that encompasses all elements of the recruitment process, from attracting new candidates all the way through to their first day at Mencap. Our framework is a blend of two different recruitment models: values-based and person-centred.Together this represents ‘Our Inclusive Recruitment’.

Our research shows that attracting candidates who are a clear cultural fit would mean there is a stronger likelihood that they would remain employees in the long-term, mirror and represent our values and behaviours, and champion our work towards helping people with a learning disability achieve our vision. Through our recruitment framework we are able to demonstrate that people with a learning disability are an integral part of every stage of our recruitment process and that we hire staff who share our values.

On measuring the success of talent attraction

The success of our campaigns is measured initially against the calibre of the candidates attracted. Marketing to attract volume is no longer an option as numbers do not necessarily translate into quality. Our campaigns include explicit reference to the values of Mencap and, when appropriate, the people that we support. This is representative in all our marketing materials and all digital platforms where we have a presence. We have also begun redesigning our job descriptions to mirror this same tone and feel. We still include within our marketing materials entry requirements or person specifications, but it is not the primary focus.

Adopting Our Inclusive Recruitment has encouraged focused and cost-effective marketing of our roles; particularly care positions, matching the support worker’s skills to the needs of the person we support. It has produced better selection techniques and helped us hire the right person, for the right role, the first time. The by-product of this is improving staff retention.

The resourcing team took a proactive step, identified the key challenges, designed a solution, communicated the benefits to key stakeholders, implemented the framework and led by example. First-line behavioural and values-based interviewing at a pre-selection stage was introduced, offering managers evidence-based shortlists and influencing inclusive selection techniques.

On Mencap's biggest challenges

One of our main challenges has been attracting, retaining and hiring the right type of people. Competition is fierce in our sector, and cost-effective, efficient resourcing is paramount. We knew it would be necessary to think differently about how we attract and select if we were to successfully address our turnover. Since adopting a person-centred and values-based recruitment framework we have seen a better return on the number of candidates who successfully embody, and thrive in, our working culture.

Our next challenge? It has become increasingly difficult to attract a younger generation to consider a career within social care.

On recruiting younger talent

Attracting Generation Y or Millennials into a sector that is maybe considered a less attractive career option than others is always going to be difficult. For Mencap it’s about positioning ourselves as an employer of choice. It is well-documented that this demographic is sophisticated, technology-wise. The speed of the internet is changing how and where they are communicated with.

We are about to launch our refreshed employer brand and we intend to be more accessible to a digitally led generation with a greater level of exposure on the platforms they are more inclined to visit. Our revitalised brand will remain firmly centred on our values, clearly represent our vision of changing attitudes towards people with a learning disability and provide a focus on our people.

On communicating the strategy

This year we launched and communicated our five-year strategy to all of our 8,000 employees. It included five new values, to employees and volunteers. So we organised a day where Mencap people got together across the country, had fun, talked values and future plans – and they loved it. And to top it off, they managed to get us trending on Twitter – a first for the charity. This has been followed by a number of initiatives to ensure that the new values are front of mind for staff. What we have seen from this is increased employee engagement through their contribution and their commitment to make it work.

On the head of resourcing role

Mencap is an entirely collaborative organisation and unlike anywhere else I have been employed. I have an opportunity to be involved in, and included on, a number of strategic committees that examine the landscape and plan for the future.

Business partnering is encouraged and this allows me to be an active contributor when discussions include forecasting, business growth within our services divisions, workforce planning and organisational design.

On becoming an employer of choice

Our head of learning and development has introduced a new appraisal programme, ‘Shape your Future 3D’, which examines three key dimensions (hence the 3D) of an employee’s performance. During the year a number of conversations are held between each employee and their manager to discuss and agree how they are performing in their job.

The three dimensions examined and discussed are the employee’s values, objectives and their role, including leadership, if the employee being appraised is a manager. At Mencap we also have a talent development programme. If an employee receives an ‘excellent’ appraisal rating across all dimensions, they are invited to participate. The programme aims to help staff fulfil their potential and achieve their aspirations, whether this is a move upwards, sideways to a position in a different department, or to develop further in their existing role. There is an opportunity to become involved in strategic committees and groups that help shape Mencap’s future and organisational design.

On future talent

For me, it’s about continuing the close relationships I have with the 600-plus hiring managers of Mencap. Collaboration and visibility is key, as well as being an effective partner and making sure that I offer a credible value proposition.

Meeting the needs of Mencap over the next few years will require the right future talent acquisition strategy, ensuring that it is aligned to our unique direction. My focus will be identifying and communicating external changes that are likely to impact us, being aware of the key internal drivers of change, for example business growth, retiring employee numbers and skills shortages and to continue being aware of possible future scenarios that I may need to plan for.

On developing a positive employer brand

This is all about being aware of what Mencap’s reputation is as an employer, and what makes us different, as well as unique. Before you are able to develop a positive brand, you have to make sure you have the ability to be able to clearly define what your employer brand actually represents and who your audience is.

The final element is: is there consistent messaging to candidates and employees alike? The worst mistake that anybody can make is to sell a dream that doesn’t live up to reality.

About Rob Walker

Rob is the head of resourcing at Mecap His main role is to design, develop and deliver the organisastion’s resourcing strategy that supports its goals as a charity and service delivery business.