KPMG and ServiceNow shine a light on the stark NHS recruitment gap

As winter approaches and a triple threat of respiratory viruses looms, NHS workers face another perilous season on the frontline. Add in a proposed strike, shrinking funding, and a growing staff shortage to the mix and the ground under which the organization stands feels shakier than ever.

Current shortages in the sector were reported at around 134,000 in September of this year, and this is a number only set to grow without a significant sea change.

To take a deeper look at the challenges haunting NHS recruitment, Michael Allen, partner and head of health and human services at KPMG, has been investigating the situation in three different NHS trusts.

November saw Allen share the results of his deep dive into the current onboarding process and the consequent solution built on the ServiceNow platform.

The current NHS recruitment landscape

“The NHS spends over a billion pounds per year on people services, and 90 percent of that work is transactional in nature. It’s highly administrative, and recruitment is the single biggest driver of that cost”, said Allen during a webinar held by KPMG with ServiceNow.

In a given year, about 200,000 people join or leave the organization across all NHS departments. But despite these numbers, little research has been conducted into the employee experience, particularly around the onboarding and recruitment process.

Alongside all that spending on its people, the NHS also pays out three billion per year on agency staff to cover a shortage that is, KPMG discovered, greatly exacerbated by a complex recruitment process that sees 25 percent of candidates drop out because their experience is too slow. Furthermore, 50 percent of the recruitment team’s time is spent on chasing parts of the onboarding process.

Based on the logic that a person with a positive onboarding experience will stay with an organization for longer, KPMG created a clinician onboarding solution on the ServiceNow platform.

The Nurse’s Experience

Analyzing three different NHS trusts, KPMG identified the gaps in onboarding by looking at the recruitment process from the point of application, engagement with the hiring team, and on to a good onboarding process. The analysis was conducted via workshops with the greater recruitment teams, documentation, and interviews with the candidates.

The journey a nurse or clinician goes through when applying for NHS positions was mapped out with 15 stages emerging from being notified of a successful application all the way to the candidate passing through onboarding and commencing work on a unit. Of the 15 steps, only four were passed without delays.

Time to hireĀ 

One of the KPIs within NHS recruitment is the time to hire. The ideal and documented time to hire is 36 days, yet with the three trusts in question, the average was only 75 days, with that stretching in some instances to 131 days from the point of offer to actually starting work.

The study found total frustration in the system, from the recruitment team to the services and candidates. Manual inputting into different systems continually plagued those involved in the recruitment process, and for candidates, there was a constant need for more information and a frustrating delay to start dates.

The ServiceNow platform solution

The solution was to create a unified portal on the ServiceNow platform that allowed candidates, recruiters, and hiring managers access to the right information in one easy-to-access place.

Based on core principles of the employee experience, simplicity and harmonization, the solution took a holistic view of clinician onboarding.

By creating one integrated portal that sits on top of IT legacy systems, the solution allows hiring managers, recruiters, and candidates to track the progress of their onboarding journey in real-time. With streamlined workflows and automated processes, the portal eliminates errors and holdups and makes life better for all teams involved by freeing up their time for more value-adding activities instead of chasing progress all the time.

The partnership imperative

Most organizations are no strangers to having multiple IT systems running within their departments, and this is the same with the NHS’ recruitment teams.

Kimberley O’Brien, senior solution consultant of employee workflows at ServiceNow, addressed in the webinar the importance of a vendor-partner approach to fine-tune the chosen integrations underneath the platform, and ensure candidates were still experiencing a smooth and streamlined recruitment process.

“Service Now supports a number of integrations, whether that’s something that we provide or that’s something that (they) will support in their design, or understanding the systems that are actually valuable to integrate,” she said.

Alongside the intangible benefits mentioned, the onboarding solution could have a significant ROI in an organization exhausted of time, energy, and spending, and provide a brand-new experience for those joining the front line of the NHS – hopefully just in time for winter.