Three things to think about before you start hiring for your Restart team

James Chessum, founder of Red 5 People writes a blog for Employability Day ‘ Three things to think about before you start hiring for your Restart team’ 

So that Restart bid came through and you need to mobilise quick?  Whilst the need for building a new team is essential, here are three things to factor in around recruitment to think about:

Look inhouse!

Everyone will be recruiting.  You will be looking for people with sector experience. Ideally top performers and senior leaders.  However, so is the competition (which can be your prime provider, or your supply chain partners). 

Now is the time (if not already) to be having conversations with your top performers, or those who are essential to the organisation to make sure they feel valued and feel they have a place.  Are they happy in their current role and their journey within the company?  Can you utilise their experience as part of the Restart contract?  Is there a progression opportunity for them?

There will be plenty of opportunities in the sector for them now, so the key is to keep your key people (you don’t want to be adding even more vacancies to the list if they leave for another provider).

Finally… look to your current caseloads on the employment programmes you deliver.  There are lots of talented job seekers out there at the moment.  Provide your front line Employment Advisors briefs / profiles for clients / job seekers who could fill those vacancies.  One of the most inspiring Operations Managers I know that we placed within employability was once a Work Programme customer from the finance sector, which she talked about in the interview.  She now heads up 18 contracts with a team of 70 staff.

Employer brand

Employer brand is essential.  We have noticed especially for younger people that they are more cautious about taking on new opportunities and research organisations as much as possible.

We have heard of candidates flatly refusing roles based on a providers Glassdoor reviews (the provider wouldn’t have known this).  Not sure what Glassdoor is? Make sure you monitor and review this page as much as possible. 

Unfortunately with payment by results contracts, some staff will underperform and leave the business.  And people tend to leave more negative reviews than they do positive about an experience.

Some quick fixes include making sure someone from HR responds to negative reviews (and takes on board the feedback).  Growing your profile by ensuring happy staff leave positive reviews.   And always go through an exit interview process for all staff leaving the business.

The interview process

Interviews are by no means a one way street.  Talk about why you are a great place to work. What are the opportunities?  Why do you like working there?  Often interviews can be a series of questions aimed at the candidate, lots of scribbling of notes, and then onto the next one.  If time is short – think about an intro video as part of the application process which is sent to candidates pre-interview. For example you could even have one of your established employment advisors talking for 90 seconds on why they like working there, and what their journey has been like.

One provider we recruit for promoted their top performer to head up their internal recruitment function for JETS.  We had placed her at the provider only 9 months prior, and she actually came from outside the sector. She could really connect with people and talk about her journey.  As well as having a good eye for transferable skills.

And if you do want help or advice on recruiting for Restart – feel free to get in contact with James Chessum at Red 5 People on / 0203 397 4372


Shaw Trust launches Leicester Work and Health Hub on Employability Day

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On Friday I attended the official launch of Shaw Trust’s Leicester Work and Health Hub, as part of Employability Day.

Employability Day is an event organised by ERSA for the employment support sector and employers to join together and show what employability means at the frontline and its impact in communities. As such, and with the sun shining brightly in Leicester, it was the perfect day to launch our new hub.

For me, it was a great experience seeing the hub, which consistently buzzes with activity. As I arrived, a tai chi class for Work and Health Programme participants and guests was taking place and as I write, a ‘knit and natter’ class is in action just across the room.

The launch was attended by a range of guests including local officials, Department for Work and Pensions representatives, local partners and employers, who all received first-hand insight into the services we offer. It was great to see so many of the guests joining the activities, including the yoga! However, the day was really a celebration of the fantastic staff and participants who have turned the hub into such a vibrant place.

Nina’s journey

The star of the show was the brilliant Nina Lee, who officially launched the hub, cutting the ceremonial ribbon and speaking about her own journey and the support she’s received. When Nina first came to the hub she was experiencing significant barriers in many areas including her own health, care and support for her children, and the protection and welfare of her family. 

However, Nina has made brilliant progress since starting on the programme, and feels there is much more support available for the different challenges she faces: so much so, that she has now become a volunteer to help other participants. She created and developed the knit and natter group session, where she teaches other participants the art of looming. She also works with local charities to create hats for premature babies, and donates any funds to Young Minds, a charity that support children with mental health issues. 

Nina was full of praise for her support manager, Paul Jessop, who has supported her and identified various interventions that formed part of her action plan, and volunteer coordinator Dipal Soni, who has coordinated Nina’s volunteering activity. Nina has a real talent for creating quirky jewellery and gift items as a hobby, and plans to launch her own stall in the coming months.
Two things really stood out to me on what I hope will be the first of many visits to the Leicester hub. First, the whole atmosphere and feel of the hub is fantastic: it feels relaxed and happy, vibrant and busy. Second, the passion of Shaw Trust staff for the work they do and their desire to really help to transform the lives of local people.

The employment gap between disabled people and non-disabled people is thirty per cent in the East Midlands. Our hub aims to shrink that gap and get as many people back into work as possible to benefit the community as a whole. From what I have seen, I am sure it will live up to this aim.

Charlie Garnett is Policy and Public Affairs Officer at Shaw Trust

Let’s celebrate the relationships between employers and our clients





It’s a tough challenge raising the profile of the employment support sector- I mean when you’re competing on the Twitter trending scale with #LoveIsland…

And yet within our sector we’re often working with people whose lives are significantly more complex than the Islanders so we really should do more to celebrate and shout about what goes on behind the scenes to create a “coupling” between our clients and an employer.

At Transform Lives Company we do just that and we’re really proud to be one of the 19 finalists for the NESTA Good Help Award. Every success, every step forwards, every achievement by one of our participants is celebrated and shared with their peers. It generates a positivity momentum and everyone wants to be a part of it. We work with our people to support them along their job search journey, supporting not showing, coaching not criticising and giving them choices at every step of the way. 

That’s why our flagship programme GiveGetGo in Liverpool has been recognised by NESTA, connecting unemployed people to volunteering opportunities in places like The University of Liverpool, Speke Hall (National Trust), Everton FC and Knowsley Safari Park.

One of the greatest challenges of the sector is challenging the mindset of employers. The University of Liverpool is leading the way by guaranteeing job interviews to participants of GiveGetGo. It’s a coupling that really works with 6 people now employed by the University who were either long term unemployed, struggling with mental health, a veteran or managing long term health conditions.

Let’s use #EmpDay18 to build and celebrate more significant relationships between employers and our clients, creating solid, sustainable couplings that will have greater impact on peoples lives than those created in a Majorcan villa!

Lauren Bailey Rhodes is Director of Operations at Transform Lives Company