SMRS and Mencap: The follow up

We last caught up with the team back in July 2017. A lot can happen in nine months. Here we chat with James Coyle, Client Partner at SMRS and Sam Jackson, Head of Resourcing at Mencap, about what’s been going on since we last spoke.

Sam, you’ve been at Mencap for three years now. Initially you joined as a Talent Acquisition Manager, what attracted you to Mencap?

Sam – “The initial attraction was the role, and then I found out more about the organisation, and met with Rob Walker, whose role I’ve now taken over as he’s moved on. He was very passionate about Mencap… who they are as an organisation, what they stood for and how they come across. I'd worked predominately within financial services before coming here. So, it was a big culture shock for me.

“When you get here you can't help but become infected by the cause. Working here has probably changed me for the better as a person. Not just professionally, but in my personal life too. People can see a different side to me. That’s down to Mencap. You just can't help but be wowed by what the organisation stands for and every single person lives and breathes our values as a result.”

Now you’re Head of Resourcing. What excited you about the role?

Sam – “When I was promoted, we were just starting out on our employer branding journey. This was my chance to really drive that vision forward and take it to the next level. And to take our resourcing function to the next level as well. There’s also still a lot to do here in terms of reducing our attrition. And we’re still in the early stages of what we set out to do. I find all of that exciting.”

What have you been working on?

James – “One of the main aims of the employer brand was to support with the attrition rate and to bring that down. We wanted to help people be more aware of what the support worker role entails, so that they know what they’re getting themselves into before they start. We’re looking for people who are in it for the long-term.

“As we only launched the new employer brand attraction piece in October 2017, we probably won’t be able to see if attrition is on the decline until the back end 2018 and into 2019.”

What’s your biggest recruitment challenge?

Sam – “Our support workers. We recruit about two and a half thousand support workers a year. But it’s tough. There's an element of the role which is wonderful. You know, the days out, going to the shops or football or whatever it might be. But then there’s the more challenging side to the role – challenging behaviours, personal care and more. And that’s not for everyone. When we were asking our support workers what it is like to work here, they said sometimes you'll laugh, sometimes you'll cry… but ultimately, you'll walk away feeling like you're doing a great job and something worthwhile. That’s what we wanted to come across. Yet whilst our largest need is for support workers, our employer brand needed to work across every aspect of the business. That’s why we came up with #WorkWithFeeling. It’s true of the whole business.”

How did you launch the Employer Brand?

James – “To get a bit of a buzz around the employer brand (and to showcase the videos we produced), we ran a one-month YouTube Trueview campaign. It resulted in the videos being viewed in full more than 36,000 times. It was a great start to putting our message out there! We used actual people in the videos, so that candidates could get a feel for what it’s like working at Mencap. That people are passionate about what they do and the difference they make – whether they’re in finance or the front-line. It’s a special place, but applicants need to know that it is going to be hard work, especially when you're on the front-line as a Support Worker.”

Sam – “It was important to get that across. And we’re thrilled that the feedback has been really strong. The applicants have said that it gives them a nice feel for what the organisation is about.”

And how did the initial attraction campaign go?

James – “Well, we launched in October 2017 and ran through to the end of March 2018. In the main it consisted of programmatic and paid search activity. Even at the prospecting stage (because we had so much insight from the audience profiling and data mapping work we did at the start), it’s been highly targeted. As a result, it generated over 5m impressions and resulted in more than 800 completed applications.”

What’s been the biggest surprise from the work that you’ve been doing?

Sam – “Really it’s the data around the drop-off rate between starting an application and actually completing an application. It's actually a lot higher than we anticipated. There's an element of people deselecting themselves – which is fine as we were keen to increase the quality of application.

“But it's been a case of reviewing the people that do drop out, to try and understand where they drop out and why. Looking back a number of years, our application form used to be 15 pages long. Bank loan applications are shorter than that! We reviewed this, and reduced our applications forms to 1 page, we are reviewing this again so that we can make our process as simple and accessible to everyone, without opening up the floodgates to unsuitable applicants.

“Then I suppose the other side, which wasn't as much of a surprise, was the outcome of the programmatic and paid search activity. It’s done really well from our point of view in terms of brand awareness, as well as targeting the right people and getting them engaged with the brand.”

James – ‘It’s about making the budget work as hard as possible. With the programmatic activity, it’s less about prospecting now. Moving forward it’s more about remarketing to the right candidates. When people come to the site we’ll remarket to them with messages that will resonate with them if they’re the right fit for Mencap – if they’re a Mencap person.”

What’s next?

Sam – “Up until recently there’s been a focus on getting new people into the organisation. But now we need to look at what happens once they're in the organisation. What does our employer brand look like? What does it feel like? What is it like to be here? Does it fit with what they thought it would be like when they initially visited? And does everyone else in the organisation feel that too? I think that's a big factor for us moving forward.”

James – “Exactly, it’s about how we can bring the employer brand to life across the entire talent life cycle. From attraction, to selection and onboarding, to internal communication and engagement, and learning and development.”

Any last thoughts?

Sam – ‘Actually there’s one thing we haven’t covered, and that’s our Inclusive Recruitment model, and the involvement of the people we support in our recruitment process. It’s of paramount importance that the people we support are involved in the hiring decision. It’s something that’s been really strong from an applicant perspective and is helping us make better hiring decisions.  And that’s got to be a good thing for everyone involved in our organisation.’


Thursday, 10 May 2018

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SMRS and Mencap: The follow up
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