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With agency worker placements increasing in London borough councils, Mark Porter, Head of HR Operations at OneSource explains how the right recruitment technology can help to identify and consequently reduce that trend

Mark Porter

We’ve all needed agency workers in the past to fill recruitment gaps or cover peaks in workload, I acknowledge that there will always be a need for temporary workers in some respect however, there is fine line between this and an overreliance. It’s no secret that the public sector faces high temporary staffing costs due to long tenures, which in some cases can be avoided. Combined with the market pressures we face, the cost and reliance on agency staff is a growing concern across local authorities and a solution must be found to proactively manage the issue.

For Havering and Newham councils, the solution was really quite simple – we needed an end-to-end technology and managed service solution with transparency at the forefront. We needed to see all agency spend in one place, with real-time, holistic data showing everything including tenure and costs. We also wanted to incorporate a budget approval process to ensure accountability for spend. With this model, we can instantly access agency data which we are able to easily analyse – saving time and more importantly, money! Additionally, we wanted to take pressure off hiring managers with a solution that would help us find the right candidates quickly ensuring full, accessible compliance which is always at the front of mind especially with care workers.

I believe that continuous review, challenge and change must be made in the recruitment process to tackle the ongoing problems we have and looking at our recruitment platform was a major one for us. You may ask how this can help with reducing agency staff in your employment and I will answer simply – if you don’t look at what you have then how are you going to know what you need? Our needs were obvious once we started the changeover process; we needed a solution that would help us move away from the multiple agency model which would provide end-to-end procurement which was reliable, fast and simple to navigate. Our objective was achieved with fulfilment rates now at 99.6% with 100% compliant workers and live reporting information that allows us to analyse the spend and tenure of workers.

We have also initiated a mutual cooperation between many of the London Borough Councils which enables a joint effort in the negotiations with staffing agencies to ensure we drive the market. Our technology and service provider (Matrix) are crucial in helping with these negotiations as they hold the critical market intelligence we need to negotiate fairly; ensuring that we are not overpaying for agency workers is vital in reducing costs.

The close partnership we have with our provider ensures that the agency recruitment process runs seamlessly. A knowledgeable on-site team is provided at both boroughs and are at hand to assist and advise hiring managers, make vital negotiations with suppliers and relay important reporting information.

I absolutely know that at this time borough councils are striving to reduce their agency worker count and operating with this full-service portal I have no doubt that all this helps us to achieve that reduction which we are all looking to achieve. As market leaders, our provider works with us to support our goals, recommending best practice and technology solutions to make agency recruitment as cost effective as it can be!

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