A February quiz from your friendly neighbourhood recruitment team

True or false:
a) In the three months to the end of January, over 600 people applied for roles with Discovery?
b) In that same 3 months, we offered permanent positions to nearly 100 people who could demonstrate in interview that they share our values?
c) At the end of January every single management position in Discovery was filled?
d) 11 colleagues who left Discovery have chosen to return since the end of the restructure

Answers: A, true; B, true; C, false; D, true.

My guess is most readers will be surprised by this. After all, 600 (actually 608) applications over a 3 month period represents half of Discovery’s workforce. 100 (actually 93) job offers represents an extra permanent colleague for every 9 people we support. These are significant numbers. And as for the managerial vacancies – we currently have 26 of our 28 management positions in post or appointed, with two vacancies that we are working hard to fill right now.

So is it time to change our tune on recruitment?

Frankly, not yet. As with any good story, there’s always a twist or two.

In our case, the first twist lies in retention. Too many new colleagues are not passing their probation or are deciding that support work is not for them. We must get better at filtering out those who are unsuited to support work, and finding new ways to encourage good new joiners to stay. Figures from Dimensions tell us that if a colleague stays in support work for over a year, he or she is very likely to stay with the organisation for many years. Those first months are critical.

Chris Best, Discovery HR Director
Chris Best, Discovery HR Director

That’s why we’re improving our in-service induction, introducing welcome events for all new colleagues to supplement existing induction programmes, and also celebration events for folk passing their probation. It’s a start, but it’s probably not enough.

With that in mind I’d love to hear from any new colleagues who has a view on how they felt treated when they joined Discovery. What worked well? What could have been better?

The second twist lies in disappointing numbers of longer standing colleagues choosing to leave Discovery. From talking to many, it appears that this is a hangover from the uncertainty and feeling of job insecurity caused by the restructure, together with the pressure of working short-handed and sometimes without a permanent manager in place for too long.

That’s really why I’m writing this blog, in fact.

If you are on the cusp of deciding to leave, or deciding that it has got too much, then I would ask you to have a look at the True of False questions above. I know many services have been seriously short staffed, for too long. Some will continue to be short for a while to come. But the raw recruitment statistics tell us that change isn’t just coming. It is happening now. We’re rowing faster and faster, in the right direction. I very much hope you will continue to be part of the crew.

And finally…

On March 18th this year, the recruitment team will become decentralised. So instead of one single team recruiting across Somerset, each of our three areas – East, West and Central – will have its own recruitment co-ordinator and recruitment assistant. We’re putting an outboard motor on our rowing boat, in fact…