Webinar Roundup: How hiring is changing: Bringing about the future of hiring

Webinar Roundup: How hiring is changing: Bringing about the future of hiring

In this webinar, we heard from the Better Hiring Institute, a safeguarding expert, and the Scottish Government about how hiring is changing thanks to the BHI’s efforts to galvanise employers and work within government.

Presenting were:

Keith Rosser: Chair of the Better Hiring Institute and Director of Reed Screening

Sue Smith: Independent Safeguarding Consultant

Billy Smith: Head of Resourcing, Scottish Government.

An Introduction to the Better Hiring Institute

As chair of the BHI, Keith explained the organisation’s goals and purpose.

The Better Hiring Institute was established during the COVID-19 pandemic to help drive massive change in hiring and onboarding and to help the UK economy grow after the lockdown. The BHI works closely with the UK government and devolved governments to make hiring faster, fairer, and safer.

Faster - A significant issue within the UK economy at present is slow hiring processes causing a delay in people entering work. This is leading to lower government yield from taxes, longer waiting lists and heavier workloads.

Fairer – hiring practices remain unfair and biased, offering unequal opportunities to barriered communities.

Safer – As we digitalise and make hiring faster, what impact is there on safeguarding and how do we ensure it keeps pace with innovation?

As part of these overarching values, the BHI’s objectives include:

  • Make UK hiring the fastest globally,
  • Improve inclusion and reduce barriers to hiring for everyone,
  • Make the UK labour market the most attractive in the world,
  • Standardise hiring and offer best practice, free-to-use guidance covering over 80% of the labour market.

Some of the changes the BHI has already influenced include:

  • Released the Blueprint for Better Hiring, the UK’s first guide on how the hiring process needs modernising.
  • Held two parliamentary roundtables, now with an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modernising Hiring.
  • Changed right-to-work policy with three suggestions to the Home Office.
  • Created the UK’s first Right to Work Hub, contributed to by over 1,000 employers.
  • Developed adjusted background checks for Ukrainian work-seekers in the UK.

10-point plans

In pursuit of its goals, the BHI has drawn up several 10-point plans to provide concise and digestible road maps, each covering a different aspect of change.

10-point action plan for faster hiring

This plan points towards making the UK the fastest place to hire globally. It does that by identifying 10 areas that need to change, including the expansion of digital identity for hiring, the development of further information and checks that could be sourced from within government or elsewhere to speed up the hiring process, reforms to referencing, reforms to sector rules and regulations, and changes to supply chain complexity.

10-point plan for fairer hiring

This plan is aimed at improving fairness across the UK labour market by highlighting bias and promoting good practice, including emphasising flexible working models, defining the role of AI in hiring, working towards consistency with how adverse information such as credit checks, social media etc is dealt with, and creating a more inclusive workplace for workers with disabilities.

10-point plan for reducing barriers

This plan focuses on reducing the barriers that the economically inactive face, making work more accessible and attractive. It includes points on supporting parents to take the step into work, enhancing career education, providing transition support for skilled refugees, and upskilling the UK labour market.

The Modernising Employment APPG

The APPG for modernising employment is a massive opportunity for the industry to come together with parliamentarians and political movers to make real change.

An All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) consists of Members of both Houses who unite to pursue a particular topic or interest. The Modernising Employment APPG was set up in 2023 and is sponsored by the Better Hiring Institute. Its meetings are open to UK employers with an interest in hiring and work and is chaired by Emma Hardy MP (Hull). Its focuses include making UK hiring the fastest globally, the future nature of jobs, digital hiring, and improving labour market standards for all. It is pro-growth and pro-worker.

Employers are encouraged to get involved, as attendance at fact-finding and open forum events is critical in moving issues forward.

Streamlining and standardising hiring

Keith explained that hiring in the UK is complex since the various industry rules, trade body rules, and regulator rules have evolved organically, and lack inter-alignment. Organisations are faced with complexity within their industries; often regulator rules don’t match supply framework rules, or trade body rules, creating an overly complicated and messy situation for employers.

Therefore, a key activity of the BHI is to release Better Hiring Toolkits that are free to use for organisations and provide free help and advice to organisations as well as work to set the best practice standard for the industry.

The toolkits also include helpful information for employers, including critical guidance such as identifying name changes in hiring, online media check guidance, and information on managing supply chains. They also point to government and industry bodies, such as the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate for reporting poor agency practices.

With these toolkits, the BHI is continuing at pace to cover over 80% of the UK’s workforce. The Care Toolkit launched on GOV.UK earlier in 2023, and has been utilised by 10,000 organisations, and within one month of launching, the Finance Toolkit has already been used by 250 organisations.

Better Hiring Toolkits in Local Authorities and Education are due for release by Autumn 2023 with work continuing in Construction, Transport, and Health into 2024.

Safeguarding for the future of hiring

Sue explained how safeguarding is developing alongside the innovations in hiring technology and practice.

It's never been more important from a safeguarding point of view to keep ahead of the curve of the developments that are fast approaching, such as the increased use of AI and digitisation in employment. Safeguarding is constantly changing over time, and so should our vigilance and assessment of our methods to protect those at risk.

The aims of safeguarding

The job of policymakers and employers is less to obliterate risk entirely, but to minimise it as far as possible, as reflected in a quote by Michael Bichard, Baron Bichard, who said in 2004 as part of the Soham inquiry:

“For those agencies whose job it is to protect children and vulnerable people, the harsh reality is that if a sufficiently devious person is determined to seek out opportunities to work their evil, no one can guarantee that they will be stopped. Our task is to make it as difficult as possible for them to succeed.”

Therefore, stopping every element of abuse from ever occurring is an unrealistic aim.

As an example, Sue referred to the work of Marcus Erooga, who has published extensively on the topic of child sexual abuse, and states that it is impossible to predict when the constellation of factors comes together in which the situational child abuser will choose to abuse.

Therefore, Erooga defines the protective system as one where someone who is thinking of abusing is aware that it's likely to be reported or detected and can be certain that if the abuse is disclosed, not only will they be dismissed, but the matter will be reported to the police immediately. If there's a protective system in an organisation, the risk/benefit analysis ought to lead potential abusers to the conclusion that whilst abuse may be possible, it's not in their interest to proceed. An aim of policy and practice which includes organisational systems must therefore be to increase the risk and cost of detection to a potential perpetrator.

Because safeguarding is a multilayered challenge, it’s not possible to rely on a single mechanism of prevention.

A safeguarding mindset

As part of the development of the Better Hiring Toolkit for Care, a survey was undertaken to see what protective mechanisms employers relied on the most. DBS checks are featured highly.

However, while DBS checks provide extremely important intelligence, employers should never assume that a clear DBS check means they are employing someone who will not abuse and that disclosing convictions, cautions and soft intelligence doesn't mean they are employing someone who will present a risk.

Employers need to be constantly horizon scanning and taking a 360-degree approach to assess and reassess risk, not just at recruitment stages, but during employment. The Better Hiring Toolkit for care describes this as developing a safeguarding mindset.

Sue describes a safeguarding mindset as the difference between compliance and curiosity. Dozens of inquiries and safeguarding reviews have found that a culture of compliance alone, focused on meeting minimum standards, is not enough to keep people safe.

Curious organisations, instead, are proactive with the information they have, and when something doesn’t seem right, they seek additional information to challenge or validate their observations.

The Better Hiring Toolkit for Care provides a rich wealth of resources about how organisations can set out their safeguarding expectations and demonstrate a safeguarding culture that goes beyond compliance and embraces curiosity. As part of this, a culture that promotes the freedom to speak up is crucial - sharing conduct information and low-level concerns is all part of this.

Developing a safeguarding mindset, culture, and 360-degree approach to safeguarding that extends beyond recruitment is crucial as we move towards more digital hiring and ID validation methods. If we continually review the health of our safeguarding mindset and maintain our curiosity, we will be in a better place to increase the risk and cost of detection to a potential perpetrator and minimise the risk to children, adults at risk, and the public.

The Scottish Government and the Better Hiring Institute

Billy described how the BHI’s priorities dovetail with those of the Scottish Government, and why he urges employers to join the Better Hiring Institute.

Huge changes in the labour force and labour market have created a challenging environment for employers to navigate.

Labour force changes include:

  • Lower migration – 90k lower per year since 2016
  • Fewer young people – 600k fewer than a decade ago
  • More older people – in 2021, a million more people in their 50s than in their 20s
  • More with long-term health conditions, staying out of work for longer.

In the labour market, we’re experiencing a shift to increased high-skilled and fewer low-skilled jobs, which is combined with rapid advances in technology, but a growing risk that this will widen inequalities.

The BHI’s goals of making hiring faster, fairer, and safer are key to overcoming these challenges.

Billy laid out his reasons for getting involved with the BHI:

  1. In his role, he was struggling with the need to find a digital solution to manual Right to Work checks, and the Scottish Government benefitted from the BHI’s work to make digital Right to Work checks a long-term future measure instead of an interim one. He therefore wanted to give back since he’d benefitted from the work that had been done.
  2. He’d recently changed jobs, moving from the private sector into a public sector role, and the BHI allowed him to share his experience and influence current practice.
  3. He wanted to benefit from the networking and development opportunities that being part of the BHI offered him outside of the confines of his work role.

From the Scottish Government’s point of view, there is a clear linkage between the aims of the Better Hiring Institute and the three key missions of the Scottish Government:

  • Equality – Linking strongly to the BHI’s goal of making hiring fairer and removing barriers.
  • Opportunity – A consistent thread throughout all the BHI’s work as it strives to ensure everyone has the opportunity for work in the UK.
  • Community – By bringing organisations together through various subcommittees and expert panels, the BHI’s work is building a community.

All organisations want their recruitment to be faster, fairer, and safer, not only for the social benefits to both employers and employees, but also for the advantages to efficiency, compliance, and safeguarding.

However, national change is not possible for individual organisations, which is where the BHI is leading the charge to not only help employers and candidates but also protect them from harm.

Get involved

Employers are urged to get involved and contribute to the change-making activities the Better Hiring Institute is leading. Joining is completely free, and the majority of industries have subcommittees that meet every six to eight weeks. The time commitment is low, the sessions are always virtual, and the feedback received through the meetings is hugely important in shaping the changes to hiring and onboarding.

Insights from our attendees

We took the opportunity to get a gauge of the experiences and opinions of our attendees.

If you were to prioritise one of the BHI’s ongoing projects, which would be most important to you and your organisation?

  • Better Hiring Toolkits specific to your industry – 40%
  • Further guidance on the rise of AI in hiring – 27%
  • Further guidance on fake references – 22%
  • A framework for social media checks – 9%

What do you see as the biggest challenge in hiring moving forward?

  • Employee skills, addressing these in hiring – 46%
  • Changing legislation, staying compliant with best practices – 28%
  • Digital hiring, the use of technology in hiring – 24%

The BHI is supporting the APPG on Modernising Employment to change UK hiring. Would you like to hear more about how you are able to get involved?

  • Yes – 84%
  • No – 15%

Better Hiring Toolkits are proving to be valuable to employers, as 40% of attendees would opt to prioritise the development of industry-specific toolkits. By Q1 next year the BHI aims to have released Toolkits that will cover 80% of the UK’s workforce, before moving on to provide resources for the remaining 20%.

Almost half of our attendees saw employee skills in hiring as a significant challenge. The BHI is moving to help bring together the different industry skills frameworks that exist across industries into one place and linking to guidance and advice on job adverts.

The vast majority, 84% of attendees, were interested in hearing more about how to get involved in the APPG on Modernising Employment. More information can be found on the APPG website.

Questions from our attendees

Is there a need for training to use the BHI toolkits? e.g., short micro-modules on how to do specific tasks, linked to low-cost accreditation (and recording) of competence in doing those tasks?

Keith: There isn't a need for training. I think the toolkits are quite self-explanatory. They're interactive guides online, so people can also use them just to go to certain sectors or sections, to use the template documents or to go to certain pages. They don't have to be read as end-to-end documents.

And as I say, they are interactive guides, hyperlinked online. They're not Word or PDF documents that have to be scrolled through. So, I think they're quite easy to use.

In terms of the second part of the question and micro modules on how to do specific tasks and the potential for future accreditation - we haven't got to that stage yet and there have been a number of members who have asked if in the future will there be a way to certify or credit themselves to say they follow the toolkits. We haven't got to that point, but potentially there might be future developments that people can accredit themselves as a sort of better hirer through the Better Hiring Institute. So excellent question and it's something on our road map.

What’s next?

Digital hiring is a fast-moving area, with new developments happening all the time. Reed Screening is hosting regular events where you can keep up to date with the latest news and share your opinion on policy and process changes.  

Below are a few of the upcoming events you can get involved with: 

  • 28th September - A year of digital right to work - where do we go from here?- Join us to hear from the Home Office on what you need to know and the future of right-to-work checks. 
  • 26th October – Digitising Employee Screening- Join us to hear from the UK government & experts on the latest to do with digitising employment.
  • 23rd November – Making UK hiring the fastest globally - With the UK currently one of the slowest places to hire globally, join us as we spotlight Reed Screening's collaborative campaigns with industry and the UK government to speed up hiring across the country, with an ambition to make it the fastest globally.