Clearly public services organisations of all descriptions, but not least the NHS, are on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they are and will continue to work tirelessly to protect and support us all in the weeks and months ahead, for which we are rightfully extremely grateful.
But the pressure on services extends much further - central government departments, local government authorities, emergency services, housing associations, charities and more, every organisation that is involved in protecting the wellbeing of our nation is under increasing pressure to quickly respond to unprecedented levels of demand.
Compounding this of course is dealing with the challenge, as we all are, of their own staffing and people issues. There are already people off ill, in self-isolation or caring for their families – which, when overlaid with the increasing demand for these public services, means getting the right people with the right skills to support their people and best position their organisations to deliver often critical services can be hugely challenging.
And we, as a key supplier to the sector, want to do all we can to help relieve some of this pressure and support our public services customers with the people they need to do this. There is understandably a high demand for additional doctors and nurses, but we’re also seeing significant demand for people across a huge range of skill sets – from care workers, social and support workers to HR, marketing, finance all the way across to maintenance trades people, cleaners and porters – the list is endless.
So, we are having to look beyond our traditional candidate pools in finding people with the transferable skills to free up those with the critical skills and organisational insights needed at this time. For example, the NHS is already working in close collaboration with local government in freeing up bed space, supporting patients to move into care facilities or to go home if they are well enough, with continued care being provided to them there.
This is being supported in a welcomed move from the government announced in the recent Budget, with councils receiving £1.6bn to manage the impact of Covid-19, with a further £1.3bn designed to support hospital discharge. As such, those who are in a caring role and are looking for temporary or permanent positions are needed in very large numbers to support this transition. This may mean shifting from private sector caring into the public sector to aid public care homes and caring community teams to name a few.
Meanwhile an already-stretched adult social care system will understandably be impacted by the crisis, and extra support and staff will be needed to protect the most vulnerable. The NHS needs many more 111 call handlers to cope with the volume of calls. Hospitals and caring facilities need a steady supply of maintenance and cleaning staff who can ensure equipment is maintained and cleanliness is kept to beyond and above a high standard. HR, marketing and finance professionals are required to help cope with, for example, the internal people issues, communications and the management of additional funds as they are released.
Therefore we, as specialist recruiters, must be even more flexible and creative than usual due to this widespread need for additional staff across a variety of areas. We need to look to people who may be looking for work due to the impact of the virus on their sectors, such as education support staff, or those in the leisure, hospitality and tourism sectors, who have transferable skills. A commitment to helping others, communication and listening skills, empathy, compassion, resilience, problem solving abilities, flexibility and reliability are top skills we will be looking out for.
Through our collaborative approach, we are working closely with our customers and candidates across our healthcare and social care teams. We are mobilising, building capacity and business readiness to meet this growing demand over the coming weeks, supporting our public services, and their people, in need. Naturally we have had to adapt to new ways of working over the last few days, but we continue to deliver our service, so we can continue to support you during this difficult time.
If you need more people to deliver your services, or you believe you have the skills to help our public services customers deliver those services, please let us know so we can bring you together to help overcome the challenges ahead.
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About this author
Matt Lewis, Director Hays Public Services, has worked in specialist recruitment since 1994, the last 10 years of which have been spent working specifically with the public sector. Matt’s role has developed into leading MSP and RPO recruitment solutions to best position organisations to attract and retain high quality talent.