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How Milton Keynes City Council transformed recruitment (and how other local authorities can do the same)

Tags: Candidate Experience, Public Sector

Recruiting has become a joy, not the nightmare I have previously experienced

Hazel Lewis
Head of ICT and Print, Milton Keynes City Council

Recruiting for local authorities and other public sector bodies can be a capital-C challenge. And that’s putting it lightly.

  • Fierce competition, not least from the private sector
  • Skyrocketing inflation and massive budget pressure
  • Complex, convoluted, slow regulatory processes
  • Internal resistance to change

People are the beating heart of any organisation – nowhere is that truer than the public sector.

The right talent acquisition technology is crucial to achieving this. But when time and budgets are tight, new software often falls on the backburner.

Last year Gillian Davis, HR Resourcing Manager at Milton Keynes City Council shared her experiences leading her team through this journey.

Catch-up with the webinar on-demand here – or keep reading, for a summary of Gillie’s story and takeaways for other local authorities and public sector organisations.

Why Milton Keynes City Council decided to upgrade recruitment software

Before starting our journey with Tribepad, I have to say that we were doing our citizens and our staff a disservice with our recruitment.

Gillian Davis
HR Resourcing Manager, Milton Keynes City Council

Staying still became impossible.

Milton Keynes City Council were already using recruitment software that they’d designed in-house. And that was fine, from a functional and legislative perspective.

But “there was no joy in the system for anybody”, Gillie points out. On the frontend, it was clunky and hard-to-use. On the backend, it was so static and inflexible you simply couldn’t change anything.

After the pandemic made the recruitment landscape even more challenging, Gillie knew the council just couldn’t compete if they kept relying on their existing system.

No visibility, no control.

One of the big problems Milton Keynes City Council were facing was a lack of visibility over their complex decentralised recruitment function.

Managers were responsible for the entire recruitment process, from advert writing to managing candidates, interviews, onboarding, offering, and contract management.

Without the right tech to support, the recruitment team had lost oversight. And without central control, the team was starting to reach a borderline unsafe position with increasing compliance risk.

Managing procurement and implementation

What I loved about Tribepad is right from the outset is that they are as passionate about their product as we are about being public servants. Everyone I met at Tribepad was utterly invested and really genuinely believe in what they’re doing.

Gillian Davis
HR Resourcing Manager, Milton Keynes City Council

Map what you actually need.

Gillie talks about the importance of taking a step back, to decide your major priorities:

“There are an awful lot of systems out there that promise an awful lot. We came up with a very tight spec. That’s the advice I’d give anyone going through this process: be crystal clear with what you want. It’s easy to be sold a system that looks amazing but is potentially offering a solution to a different problem to the one you have”.  

For Milton Keynes City Council, there were three major priorities:

  1. An excellent manager experience
  2. A second-to-none candidate experience
  3. Control – a responsive system with great visibility

“Things change at the drop of a hat”, says Gillie. “You want to design a new campaign; you want a new application structure; you need different checks and balances. We were adamant we wanted a system that was responsive enough to respond to recruitment needs at the speed you need”.

She also talks about the importance of working with the right partners to map these needs. “We had an idea what we wanted but we’re not experts in this field. Tribepad were really able to fill that gap for me. They really educated me and supported me; it was a lovely learning process.”

Think beyond systems.

Depending on your current function, recruitment transformation will probably involve a degree of process and behaviour change. The right partners should guide you but it’s rarely as simple as ‘just buying new software’.

For Milton Keynes City Council, that looked like running an in-house restructure to redefine processes and ownership across the function, at the same time as implementing Tribepad.

The team also ran a roadshow and put together a comms plan for senior management, to support roll-out and get the organisation on-side.

Gillie talks about how Tribepad being so intuitive really lowered the training and support burden – and has received exceptional feedback from managers.

Building internal engagement and boosting teamwork is a common problem among local authorities. Simon Pollen, Strategic Resourcing and Talent Acquisition Manager at Richmond & Wandsworth Councils, shares six actionable tactics to strengthen stakeholder relationships: read now.

“Recruiting has become a joy”: the highlights reel

It’s so slick now, but we’re still completely and utterly safe. We still do all the checks and balances we need, but in a way that doesn’t feel so heavy handed; that doesn’t feel so local authority; doesn’t feel so painful. So we’re really developing the engagement.

Gillian Davis
HR Resourcing Manager, Milton Keynes City Council

Flexibility to create the recruitment you imagine.

“It blows my mind”, Gillie says, “that if I need to sit down and tweak something, I’ll just sit down and tweak it. That’s a concept most of us in local government can’t get our heads around. We just don’t operate like this; we have never been spoiled like this. We are just delighted”.

With Tribepad, you can easily configure bespoke recruitment journeys, application processes, and collaboration workflows to suit how you work. Plus you can template everything and set approvals before you hand over to managers, so they’re totally safe and won’t expose you to risk. Everything you need to do, done.

An experience everyone loves.

 Gillie talks about the Council’s new Business Engagement Officer, Sukhi Gill, who has joined the team since they’ve implemented Tribepad. Sukhi had actually applied to Milton Keynes City Council before but abandoned her application because she couldn’t face the recruitment process.

Read: 7 real-world tactics to improve your candidate experience

Now, Sukhi says:

 “I wanted to let you know how great the new recruitment website is. Personally I see it as a great investment on the Council’s part, and much needed. The new site looks fresh and welcoming and for the end user, the interface is extremely user friendly”.

It’s the same story across the Council, with Gillie getting heaps of positive feedback from both candidates and managers since upgrading. “It just makes me so happy and so proud”, Gillie says, “because we’ve cracked everything we wanted to crack”.

“Game-changing” business insights.

One of the bits of Tribepad Gillie loves most is Insights, our embedded reporting module. “This is a massive win for local government”, she observes.

“It’s phenomenal to have a system that can give business insights at this level. There’s nothing it can’t tell you; it’s such a powerful tool. It directly translates into our workforce planning and our diversity and inclusion agenda.”

Read now: The top three reports your recruitment team should be running.

Then read: A blueprint for recruitment reporting that’s genuinely useful.

Get excited about the journey

What’s so wonderful is, we’re refining our processes constantly. Every single day we’re thinking of new ways we can improve; new ways we can be better. And that’s within our control with Tribepad. We’re in the middle of a really exciting journey.

Gillian Davis
HR Resourcing Manager, Milton Keynes City Council

One of the things we’ve loved most about working with Gillie and Milton Keynes City Council has been their excitement and passion to take their recruitment to the next level.

The thing about recruitment transformation is, it’s a journey not a destination. Processes evolve; best practices evolve; the market changes; the challenges you face change. Great recruitment teams are excited to refine and grow – and they choose partners who support that ambition.

Tribepad is the trusted tech ally to smart(er) recruiters everywhere, designed to help you fall back in love with recruiting.

Trusted by public sector organisations like the NHS, BBC and numerous local authorities including Milton Keynes City Council, Coventry City Council, Surrey City Council, and Kent County Council, 25 million people in 16 languages use Tribepad.

Download our public sector buyer’s guide to learn more about choosing recruitment software that truly supports your organisation.

Or book a demo now, to chat about how Tribepad can help you better serve your community.

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