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

North Yorkshire Police is one of the UK’s largest single-county forces. It needs to continuously respond to the ever-changing threats to society – from fraud to cyber and sexual offences to terrorism. The development of a research piece that shaped the design of a future workforce blueprint by 2025 revealed that the traditional approaches to recruitment and assessment, embedded in the organisation and standardised across the force, would not meet future policing needs. A more agile, innovative and forward-thinking approach was required. 

Meeting future talent needs

With its future requirements in mind, the organisation knew it needed to strengthen and develop its talent planning. Supported by Cappfinity, it began by looking at existing research and best practice from other organisations and sectors as well as drawing on the national Policing Vision 2025 and the workforce reforms initiated on a national level. 

It also questioned the effectiveness and shortcomings of its existing competency-based approach to recruitment and progression. Its ambition was to attract talent based on potential rather than competence, ‘because competence is expected as standard’. It also wanted to develop a more flexible approach around entry and exit into policing to attract, retain and really nurture talent. 

‘Policing in the future won’t be a job for life but will be a connection for life. So if you’ve reached a certain point in your career and need to go off and do something else because we can’t satisfy that need, we won’t think about what you’ve lost but what you’ve gained.’ 
Annette Canning, Strategic Lead – People Partnering, EnableNY 

Introducing and embedding a strengths-based approach

The team concluded that a strengths-based approach to recruitment and progression supported by the use of innovative technology would be the best way to meet its needs and help unlock potential. To deliver the new approach, the Talent and Resourcing Team needed the support of the entire force, so gaining buy-in from the Chief Officer Team from the outset was critical to its success. 

‘Some people love statistics and evidence, others are only convinced when they see it, so we tried a mixture of things to bring people along and respond to their concerns. We started at the top, with a vacancy for deputy chief constable, and the initial process combined a blend of the old and the new for us to learn from – but immediately the feedback was really positive. As we rolled the process out to other ranks, we immediately got change advocates because people were talking about it and saying, “I can’t believe how innovative and different this is.”’ 
Annette Canning, Strategic Lead – People Partnering, EnableNY


The strategy had clear objectives and measures of success:

  • Upskill the Talent and Resourcing Team to ensure effective delivery of the programme.
  • Create a levelled framework supported by strengths, as identified through success analysis, which involved speaking to key stakeholders as well as making sure anything designed complemented national frameworks. This allows the approach to be tailored for different levels and ranks while enabling a consistent recruitment approach across the entire force.
  • Design and implement valid assessment processes around six core strengths to assess for future potential. These incorporated a range of innovative assessment tools, including an online immersive assessment, strengths-based interview, micro exercises and virtual reality. Using this technology has enabled candidates to act naturally and authentically, demonstrating their true potential rather than focus on ‘rehearsed’ examples of competence.
  • Promote a positive candidate experience through managing expectations – workshops held across the force for each rank to inform employees of the changes and to provide support, advice and guidance where required.
  • Full and comprehensive training for all assessors involved in the selection processes to ensure the quality of hire.
  • Ongoing evaluation and improvements – at the end of each assessment, feedback is collected from assessors and candidates through debriefs and surveys to continually review, refine and ensure it is fit for purpose. Any themes of gap areas then shape the development programme. 

‘We didn’t want our use of virtual reality and other technology to be seen as just going with the latest fad, so we were keen to demonstrate its validity and how it adds value through candidate engagement sessions that allowed people to test the system and become familiar with it.’ 
Kerry West, Talent and Development Manager, EnableNY 


Feedback on the new approach has been outstanding from the outset: 88% of candidates rated the candidate experience as excellent or very good, and 68% of candidates felt the process was fair and consistent (in comparison with 28% in the previous promotion process). This has led to a significant reduction in appeals from unsuccessful candidates. 

‘We have worked hard to reduce any bias in the new system by focusing on the candidate as an individual and allowing them to demonstrate through the process their potential in the future – rather than, for example, manager recommendations.’ 
Kerry West, Talent and Development Manager, EnableNY 

All assessors (100%) rated the strengths-based promotion process as excellent or very good and all felt the process was fair and consistent. 

Early indicators show significant improvements in the quality of candidates, speed to competence, work outputs, retention and accelerated progress to the next level of promotion. 

Cost per hire has been reduced (by up to half for some job categories that attract a high volume of applicants). Additionally, instead of the recruitment team shortlisting candidates, the new process uses online situational strengths tests, which present potential applicants with a realistic job preview, including the types of situations and scenarios they will face. This process also enables less suitable candidates to deselect themselves if they feel it’s not the right career move for them. 

The approach has attracted considerable interest from other forces as well as other public sector organisations – all of whom now want to share this best practice. 

North Yorkshire Police won Best Resourcing Initiative (supported by Cappfinity) at the People Management Awards 2020 and Leaders of the Future (in partnership with Cappfinity) at the Recruiter Awards 2020, as well as being nominated for many more. 


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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