Training and staff development seems to be disappearing from some public sector organisations. But this approach can cause teams to miss out as this new case study highlights.

by Lindsay Coulsen

One of the first things I did at Hertfordshire County Council was to send three members of my new team on a two day social marketing course. Six months later, we invited the same tutor to do a condensed one day course for more than 10 members of the team at our offices.

That training has served us well; a forensic, rigorous and structured approach to changing behaviour and helping service departments reach their goals has ensured the cost of the training has beenpaid for several times over.

Over the last two years, we have trialled the approach in a number of campaigns, none more successfully than our campaign to change the perception of the care industry and recruit more care workers.  The campaign won a platinum award at the recent Public Sector Awards. Recruiting care workers is a challenge across the entire country faces but even more so in Hertfordshire where there is virtually zero unemployment

Our starting point was to do the research- why do people become carers? What do they love about the job etc. We looked at existing research, talked to care workers and came up with three key audiences; school leavers, parents (particularly mums of school age children), and recent retirees which we would target. The research also helped us shape our messages and approach.

Real people working in care were used as case studies with each one reflecting a key message we wanted to relay to our target audience. For example; mum Jess highlighted the flexibility of care work: ’Jess combines her job as a care trainer with her other job being a mum to three-year-old Eli’. We tailored our approach to each of our individual target audiences, combining a strong social media approach (paid and earned) with traditional channels.  For young people we used our links with job centres to target young job seekers and distributed information to schools, through Youth Connexions, local FE colleges and the University of Hertfordshire.

We created our own hooks such as Good Care Week and Good Care Day and provided a toolkit so care homes could organise their own ‘Macmillan style coffee mornings’. We also looked for opportunities to tap into national hooks and breaking news stories to raise the profile of our campaign including Brexit and its impact on care.

It couldn’t have worked without a strong partnership between comms, adult social care and Hertfordshire Care Providers Association (HCP A). HCPA created a dedicated website to recruit care workers directly and 148 people have been directly recruited through that portal with further 54 waiting to be placed. Based on average recruitment costs per person that represents a saving to the organisation of £131k not to mention over 200,000 hours of additional care.

We have not been able to evaluate exactly how many people have been recruited directly to care providers but anecdotally it has made an impact.  The importance of being able to demonstrate to the organisation that the campaign has a good return on investment has helped to win backing cross-party for it to continue over the next few years. If you want to know more please message me @lindsaycoulson1

Lindsay Coulson, was Head of Communications at Hertfordshire County Council and is now Director of Communications at Waltham Forest Council.


Original source – comms2point0 free online resource for creative comms people – comms2point0

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