Skills for Care tell us that values based recruitment and retention is about finding and keeping people who have the right values, attitudes and behaviours to work in social care. As we began to design our workshop day to recruit the first self-managing team in homecare in Lancashire, I started to understand that this was more complex than I had imagined.
We needed to move from an implicit understanding about the principles and values we wanted to recruit to, to make them explicit and ‘live them’ throughout the whole recruitment process. We had to consider two areas, how the team organises itself, and the work that it does. We are modeling the new team on ‘teal’ principles, and in summary these are self-management, bringing the whole person to work, and evolutionary purpose. These reflect how the team is organised, and the work that we want the team to do is to work with older people in their own homes, to co-design their support with them, and deliver this in a person-centred way. What does all this mean for values based recruitment?
We needed a team who would who would work together and be accountable to each other and the people they support. This is so much more than valuing teamwork, or valuing positive relationships. We asked questions about teamwork and accountability in the scenarios exercise and tried to demonstrate our accountability by being prepared to be interviewed ourselves about the role. We were explicit about self-managing teams in the recruitment pack and we asked people to bring a lunch to share – an unusual step, but one that we thought demonstrated an approach to teamwork that involves sharing at a different level. After one exercise we asked people to give each other feedback in pairs – a key element of self-management.
Bringing the whole self to work
We wanted the team to bring their passions, purpose, interests and even connections to work. We need people who value authenticity – and not having a ‘work’ self and a ‘home self’. We indicated this with the ‘could this be you?’ one-page profile style person-specification. We needed to show that we were prepared to do the same, and shared our one-page profiles as part of the recruitment pack, and shared about ourselves in the ‘human bingo’ and other exercises.
We wanted people who were committed to co-production even through they may never have heard of this word.
It is about keeping people at the center of decision-making about their lives, and valuing peoples rights and dignity. We needed to demonstrate this as well, and asked two older people to work with us in both the recruitment day facilitation and the decision-making about who to invite to join the team.
Supporting people in a person centred way.
We wanted to see the values of caring and compassion and thought about different ways to invite people to demonstrate this through a hand massage, and the way that found out what matters to people, and in how they addressed the scenario questions.
After the workshop day, when we had invited five people to start the team with us, I wondered what values people brought, and how we could know whether we had got a good fit with the values we wanted.
I looked at research that Jackie she had done and learned that you could identify values. I asked Jackie to work with the new team members to help them discover their values and to help me learn what values our new team have.
I will let her pick up the story from here…
Values at Work – Jackie Le Fevre
Values are powerful: these are the energy rich, big ideas that provide us with our sense of meaning and motivation. Values are universal: every individual human being and every group of people, organisation and community has them.
Values are also unique: my personal pattern of priority values is not the same as yours or anyone else’s; for me to feel whole, at ease and able to contribute my best self a task needs to be something somewhere that aligns with my values.
Values are challenging to work with because they sit in the Limbic System of the brain. This area is part of our unconscious mind and has no vocabulary: it is all about feeling and reacting rather than thinking and planning.
So if we read an advert for a job and say to ourselves ‘I fancy this’ that’s a Limbic thing. It happens because there is something in the way the words that have been selected paint a picture that lights up our priority values drawing us in. Later if someone asks us ‘why did you apply for that job?’ we will give all sorts of reasons for the choice which will be true but not the whole story. We use our conscious mind to make sense of the decision that we took. We may say concrete things like ‘the provider has a good reputation’ ‘the terms and conditions are very good’ ‘it’s a step in the right direction for my career’ or we may say more abstract things ‘it’s worthwhile work’ ‘there’s plenty of variety in the job’ ‘what a great opportunity to learn’ either way this is not what we thought when we first read the advert and said ‘I fancy this’ – feeling comes first, thinking comes later.
In this example of seeking a new team of Wellbeing Workers a conscious decision was taken to recruit people through activating values that aligned with both the employing organisation and the feel of the service to be provided. By being descriptive in the recruitment materials and following that with a varied and highly interactive selection process Caring Hands Group gave candidates a rich insight into the actual values at work in their organisation and in the potential role which meant that each person finally offered a job had a strong base from which to feel whether or not this was a good fit for them: interestingly everyone accepted.
Now personal values are unique to each individual but research also shows us that when people come together in groups with a common purpose then shared priority values will come to the fore and shape the ‘norms’ by which the group learns how to ‘be’ together. We wanted to explore the shared values of the Wellbeing team. As this information sat deep in the unconscious of the group it wasn’t something we could just uncover in conversation. We used one of the world’s leading values profiling tools to enable each new recruit to develop a conscious connection with their top values and allow us all to reflect upon the key shared values for the team.
What did we find?
Out of 128 distinct and different values in the Minessence Values Framework the new team has a Top 10 of:
Human Rights, Human Dignity, Wisdom, Care/Nurture, Social Equilibrium (which is about peaceful social environments), Health/Well-Being, Being Self (the capacity to be authentic), Equality/Self Determination and Wonder/Curiosity
Remember that from the outset this process was designed to attract and inspire people who wanted a job where they could bring their whole self to work, make a positive difference to the lives of others through tackling loneliness and increasing wellbeing. Given that was the goal our values ‘audit’ data suggests that, so far at least, our train is still very much on track.