The CIPD’s Resourcing and talent planning survey 2021, in partnership with Omni RMS, examines resourcing and talent planning practices and the key challenges organisations are facing. It provides people professionals and their organisations with benchmarking data on important areas such as recruitment costs, workforce planning and retention. The following case study supplements the main survey report, providing real-life, good practice examples of how some of the issues raised in the survey have been addressed. The main report can be found at: Resourcing and Talent Planning Reports

The situation

Since its inception in 1844, the Co-op has held an important role in the communities it serves across the UK, giving profits back to local causes and partnering with like-minded organisations to co-operate for a fairer world. 

With rising unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Co-op experienced a 30% increase in job applications last year, despite new vacancies falling by 40%. 

‘We saw the desperation and despair that some people were feeling about the job market. It could feel quite impersonal the way we managed declines for people who didn’t make it to the point in the process where they interact with a human being. We always responded to candidates, but it felt like we could do more at a time when there were people with a real need for support. We wanted to live up to our values, demonstrate that these things matter to us and also protect our employer brand for when the job market changes and candidates are less abundant.’ 
Matt Eyre, Candidate Marketing Manager 

The Co-op Career Development Hub

The Co-op partnered with OMNI RMS to develop and roll out the Co-op Career Development Hub – an online resource that aims to build employability skills, much like a personal career coach, giving users access to the following features: 

  • ‘Career Pulse’ – a self-assessment tool that gauges the user’s employability and develops a personalised training plan uniquely catered to their qualifications, experience, and skillset.
  • A cover letter and CV building tool that assesses CVs via 50+ assessments providing instant feedback and tips on how to improve users’ job applications and develop LinkedIn profiles.
  • Interview 360 – video and audio interview simulators with learning videos and followup AI feedback and guidance to provide best-in-class examples.
  • Over 1,000 e-learning programmes, including expert videos, tutorials, and articles covering key aspects of employability and career development.
  • Engagement with psychometric and aptitude tools, including assessments and quizzes on ability, motivation, personality, and resilience (complete with downloadable results) to build readiness for job search. 

Engaging users

Efforts are under way to promote the hub to a range of potential beneficiaries:

  • Regretted candidates – unsuccessful candidates are sent personalised emails following notification of their unsuccessful application, advising them to register and benefit from the tool. Follow-up personalised emails are also sent out to those who are yet to register – highlighting how the hub can enhance their job search.
  • School-leavers – students at Co-op Academy schools and colleges based in disadvantaged areas of the north-west of England are encouraged to use the hub through partnership with career leaders. Webinars have been conducted and user guides created for career advisers, tutors, parents and students to ensure maximum buy-in and it is already being used as part of the careers curriculum in some academies.
  • At-risk employees – hub access is distributed to Co-op employees at risk of redundancy to help them find another role internally or externally.
  • Vulnerable groups – the Co-op is also collaborating with The Big Issue to provide access to the hub for its 1,500 vendors, many of whom have experienced homelessness and been severely impacted by the pandemic. The hub aims to help develop their employability skills and support them into longer-term employment routes.
  • Community partners – the Co-op works with the Black Young Professionals (BYP) network to drive its inclusive recruitment initiatives, and it has offered access to the hub to all of BYP’s 60,000+ members. 

The hub is designed to be accessible for all, including people with basic IT skills or limited means. It was built as a ‘mobile first’ solution – allowing user access for those without a home laptop or PC. To maintain interest and interaction with the hub, weekly email ‘roundups’ are sent to all users informing them of new tools that can aid them in their job search as well as reminder emails to encourage users to complete any outstanding learning programmes. 

Ongoing efforts to build awareness and engage users include blogs, speaking at events and developing case studies of how users have benefited from the tools. 

‘We’re starting to look at how we can offer it to people at different points in the job application process – feedback from declined candidates shows they think it’s great but that it would have been better if they’d had it before they applied for the job at the Co-op. So we’re starting to look at that – whether it’s to help people get a job here or somewhere else.’ 
Matt Eyre, Candidate Marketing Manager 

Ongoing reviews and evaluations 
Usage of different resources and tools on the hub are automatically tracked and regularly reviewed. This allows the team to review the marketing of different aspects of the hub and promote less popular activities via its weekly email alerts. 

Monthly user reports, measures of career confidence and regular user surveys gauge the hub’s impact. The team uses these measures and the feedback collected to make ongoing improvements. 


  • Since its inception in January 2021, around 4,000 people have made use of the hub, completing a total of 41,000 activities.
  • The career confidence scores of users have increased from an average of 62% on registration with the hub to 70% after completing activities.
  • Feedback from users has been overwhelmingly positive. The average user feedback score is 8.4 out of 10.
  • At least 95% of people report the hub has helped them gain employment.
  • The hub is also supporting the creation of talent communities that the Co-op can draw from for future roles. 

‘Following my redundancy during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was suddenly out of work for the first time in 15 years. The online career hub has helped me to refine my interview skills (which were very rusty), bring my CV to life (via the excellent CV assessment tool) and the articles on how to increase my online presence (through building a LinkedIn profile and posting my CV on multiple job sites) helped me to secure my new role as a financial controller.’ 
John James (regretted candidate invited to use the hub) 


Acknowledgements: The CIPD and Omni would like to thank all the case study organisations for taking part in this research. We appreciate that taking time out among other pressing commitments to be interviewed can be challenging and we are grateful to the participants for their willingness and openness in sharing their valuable insights. 

Publication information

These case studies were conducted and written by Annette Hogarth, research consultant. When citing this case study, please use the following citation: Hogarth, A. (2021) Resourcing and talent planning 2021: case studies. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

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