Job matching

Job matching is the process of matching the right person to the right job based upon the individual’s inherent motivational strengths, either matching the job to the person or the person to the job, which require understanding of both, the job and the person under consideration. Intrinsic to the relationship between recruitment and job composition are theoretical and empirical issues of job matching, labour markets and the movement of job information in labour markets. Job matching models have done an excellent job of understanding how workers are matched to jobs in internal labour markets.

One of the most important aspects of job matching is developing an understanding of the job or tasks involved from the perspectives of both the individual who is filling the position and from the supervisor or managers. Among the aspects that should be dealt and clearly define for each job or task are supervisory structure and the availability of administrative support, compensation plan (salary, salary plus bonus, commission only), the career path, working schedule/ shift, occupational related risks (physical and mental), and etc. According to Herbert [1], the majority of effective managers share one thing in common: an ability to understand and focus on the inner motivations of themselves and of those around them.

Tapping into talent

The most difficult approach because it relies upon the expertise of the interviewer to elicit feedback from the applicant, using specific and probing questions to get to these motivational forces. Effective practitioners of this process need to receive extensive training in this approach and have had years of experience to refine their skills.

People become care workers for a variety of reasons. For many, social care is not just a job but a calling. They do the work because they see an opportunity to make life better for people who need help in maintaining some independence and quality of life. One employer described as a key skill finding people who want a job which important to others.

“You need to tap into people that are like minded to ourselves and thinking, ‘I would like a job working with people. I’d like a job that gives me some satisfaction that I’ve made a difference to others. That my work has value to the people who receive care.'” (Northern Ireland Employer)

Of course, not every person who applies for a job in the care sector because of life calling. Many become care workers because it is the only job which is available. They may, for example, need flexible working because they have caring responsibilities at home or lack the qualifications for work in other fields. Many people who have been out of work for a long time and their lack of recent work experience. This doesn’t mean that people who join the care sector out of necessity rather than choice won’t excel in their jobs. People who become care workers by thinking of it as ‘just a job’ find that the work taps into skills and capabilities which they hadn’t though that they had before.

“So a lot of people step into it and realise that there’s something a little bit more, not easier about it, but there’s almost something that they didn’t think was within their gift, but then it is.” (Belfast Health and Social Care)

Recruiting a diverse workforce

The care workforce is highly gendered with about eight in ten care workers being women. However, many employers are looking for ways to recruit both men and women in a variety of roles. One care home in the South of England for example recruited older men who had been made redundant after a local factory closed. The employer offered free training and job tasters to make the work attractive to potential employees. Socialisation may often detract men from applying for care work even when they may be a good match to the work.

“I think the socialisation, and the gender socialisation, that young man has grown up with is more likely to lead him to say, “Yes I’ll take the van.” That said I meet a lot of male carers, who are very passionate and dedicated to their work. These are very widespread societal attitudes. I think there’s still a strong notion that caring work is women’s work.” (Northern Ireland Care Worker)

It is important to remember that care workers come from a variety of backgrounds.  Some organisations use targeted recruitment to find people who are underrepresented in the sector or people who are disadvantaged in the labour market. Recruiting young people, people who have been off work for health reasons but want to return to work, ex-offenders or those who can only work on a part-time basis. Tapping into under-used parts of the job market can provide employers a source of talented people who, with some training, provide high quality service to clients.

Of course, within a context of a diverse workforce, it is especially important to ensure that staff feel valued and safe when carrying out their jobs. Some care workers with whom we talked spoke of experiences of discrimination from clients, family members or other health care professionals. There are many reasons why organisations should have Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policies, and one of the most important is to ensure that care work is attractive to a range of job applicants from different backgrounds

Job shadowing

Some care employers are offering workers the opportunity for people who might be interested in joining care services to try working in the sector for a limited time to see how they feel in the role. Skills for Care deploys Care Ambassadors to talk with people who are thinking about joining the sector. Care Ambassadors aim to ‘inspire and motivate’ people to work in social care by talking with people who might be interested in working in the sector like people who have experience caring for family members.

One care home in the South East of England has developed a job shadowing scheme to encourage long-term unemployed people to try working as a care worker for a two month period. Participants received full training, salary and benefits with an offer of a permanent job for those who successfully passed probation and were interested in continuing. The programme was surprisingly popular with men who had worked in a local factory which had closed.  After a year, three quarters of people who were initially recruited were still working for the care home.

Next steps

Developing new approaches to recruiting talent from a wide talent pool is important particularly within the context of skills shortages and stiff competition for talent.  However, having good recruitment policies is not enough.  People who are recruited need to feel valued and engaged in rewarding work.  In the next section, we will discuss some of the ways organisations can improve the quality of work for care workers.