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

Longhurst Group is a leading charitable housing association in the Midlands and East of England. Employing over 1,200 staff, it provides more than 23,000 homes and a wide range of care and support services. 
The organisation is committed to making a positive difference to people’s lives and recognises its value to customers is driven by having a diverse, engaged and healthy workforce. CEO Julie Doyle is a strong champion of this vision. Her passion for inclusivity is grounded in personal experience of the everyday challenges faced by her disabled grandson and his carers. 

The group’s organisation-wide strategy – ‘Improving Lives 2025’ – sets out to support both customers and employees with their health and wellbeing and economic resilience. Building a culture of equality, diversity and inclusion is a core focus. Over the last two years, the organisation has developed comprehensive action plans to really deliver an inclusive workforce and to become an employer of choice for all nine protected characteristics. 

A strategic approach

Longhurst Group has developed an inclusion and diversity strategy with a clear programme of work to ensure it is an inclusive organisation. As part of this, its policies are regularly reviewed and updated in line with legislation and best practice. These are then impactassessed by both an external diversity consultant and its internal diversity working group. 

Evidence-based

The company is using regular audits, surveys and consultations to inform its strategies and target action. These include a full review and report of its equality monitoring data to provide better insight into the makeup of the organisation, an equalities pay gap assessment, including disability pay gap, to help identify and take action against any potential barriers to progression, and organisation-wide surveys to better understand workplace needs, equality, diversity and inclusion issues and engagement.

'We’re trying to be a lot more evidence-based rather than assume we know what people want.’ 
Rachel Bennett, Director of People Services 

A personal details audit is conducted annually to ensure equalities data is up to date. This year, it used a more targeted and digital approach, which resulted in a record return rate of 80%. It also included additional questions on long-term health conditions following employee consultations. 

‘Just 8% report they have a disability, but 26% report a health condition, of which some could be classed as a disability. That was an interesting lesson – listening to the language we were using – and we are now able to tailor our service to meet their needs.’ 
Rachel Bennett, Director of People Services 

Attracting diverse candidates

Longhurst Group is working in partnership with Evenbreak Disability Job Board to help attract talented disabled candidates. Job descriptions and adverts include logos around disability confidence to show it is disability-friendly. 

The organisation plans to further showcase its credentials through including case studies on its website that show what it is like to work for the Group. The organisation is now beginning to evaluate its efforts through looking at its data to see how many people with a disability it has attracted and how many have actually gone through the process and been offered a job. 

‘What we need to do next is identify our colleagues who have disabilities, get them talking to each other and supporting each other – get that open culture – then we can say, “How can we help other people coming in?” We review the recruitment process with all new hires to learn lessons, including what the process is like for people with disabilities, and put the lessons into action plans.’ 
Rachel Bennett, Director of People Services 

Removing barriers to work

Longhurst Group is moving towards more remote working to attract and retain a more diverse workforce, including disabled people who find it easier to work from homes that are already adapted to their needs and people who find it difficult to make the journey to work. Workplace assessments, risk assessments, reasonable adjustments (including hearing loops), phased returns to work, and so on, are also in place. In addition, the group is moving beyond its current flexible working offering to instigate more agile working practices, such as giving employees the flexibility to make doctors’ appointments without booking time off work and trusting them to make the time up at the end of the day.

‘It’s a huge culture shift. We’re really pushing the adult conversations and relationships in our strategy and working with managers to move to an outputs-driven approach.’ 
Rachel Bennett, Director of People Services 

Support for carers

As part of its commitment to the national Harry’s Pledge campaign, Longhurst Group has joined Employers for Carers (EfC) to better support staff who provide unpaid care for a loved one. It has conducted an audit of employees with carers’ responsibilities and created an action plan to support them, including making policies carer-friendly and providing platforms and support for carers to share their stories and needs.

Employment offer

Over the last two years, Longhurst Group has reviewed all of its terms and conditions and completely redesigned its total reward package. This has included introducing an employee assistance programme and increasing its sickness pay entitlements to demonstrate its commitment to health and wellbeing.

Wellbeing

A cross-team working group has introduced a number of health and wellbeing interventions, including a wellbeing hub on the organisation’s internal website, which provides a wide range of information and resources. Longhurst Group has signed up to the Mindful Employer Charter in recognition of its commitment to supporting mental health in the workplace.

Learning and development

All employees are provided with a range of courses that focus on health and wellbeing, equality, inclusion and diversity, as well as modules designed to help people perform to their best. Leaders and managers also have access to a specialist management development programme, which helps to develop the skills and knowledge needed to bring out the best in people. Learning materials and courses cater to different learning styles and needs, and evaluations ensure the service is inclusive.

Building awareness

Ongoing information campaigns and workshops are used to get managers and employees on board with Longhurst Group’s vision for equality and inclusion. This has included events with carers of disabled people and case studies to highlight the issues people face. These events have been successful in encouraging employees to come forward in sharing their own stories.

Achievements

  • Longhurst Group is currently a Disability Confident Employer and is working with the National Centre for Diversity to achieve the Investors in Diversity and Disability Confident Leader Awards.
  • It achieved one-star accreditation on the Best Companies Survey in September 2020, an impressive achievement for an organisation completing the survey for the first time.
  • Voluntary turnover (total) figure reduced from 22.45% in 2016 to 15.89% in 2019. In 2020 it fell to 8.59%, although some of this reduction would be expected due to the pandemic.
  • Its latest ED&I survey findings show that 92% of employees are confident to explain why good FREDIE (fairness, respect, equalities, diversity, inclusion and engagement) practices contribute to better organisational business performance, and that 84% feel that Longhurst Group encourages employees to consider FREDIE in their daily routines.
  • Most recently, it was awarded its conditional Investors in Diversity accreditation by the National Centre for Diversity. The Investors in Diversity Award is recognised as the national equality standard and shows that the organisation puts the FREDIE standards at the heart of everything it does. In addition, it was placed at No. 21 in the Top 100 Most Inclusive Workplaces 2021 on its first submission.

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

In this series

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Transforming resourcing to future-proof policing: North Yorkshire Police

Case study on how the force developed an agile, innovate approach to recruitment and assessments

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Building a Co-operative candidate experience: The Co-operative Group

Case study on supporting job candidates in building employability skills

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