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An investigation into the recruitment policies Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 12 October 2017

An investigation into the recruitment policies

An investigation into the recruitment policies of the NHS and as to whether they are vertically or horizontally integrated

Research into the HR function has concluded that a firm with a tightly structured alignment in terms of HR management and strategy will outperform rivals who have a less vertically integrated approach (Bamberger and Meshoulam, 2000, Boxall, 1991). It is, however essential that a horizontal fit is found that is coherent in terms of its link to the firm as whole. It has been shown that the HR function is at its most effective when used in this way (Wright and Snell 1998, Bohlander and Snell 2003). The strategy of a company in terms of recruitment is described as:

“All those activities affecting the behaviour of individuals in their efforts

to formulate and implement the strategic needs of the business”

(Schuler 1992)

The NHS have set clear targets in their recruitment policies: “more staff, working differently” (doh.gov.uk). There is an acceptance that the service needs to focus on recruitment as well as retention, with an increasing amount of staff turnover a consequence of increased workload. The objective is for growth amounting to 115,000 more staff between 1999 and 2008 (doh.gov.uk).

In terms of recruitment, companies face two central problems: Firstly the problems faced with regards to the employment demands and secondly with regards to the applicants ability (Russo et al 1995). Job analysis and internal communication strategies are designed to deal with job demands, and a specific selection criteria is used to solve the ability issues. The NHS has a variety of roles that need fulfilment, and to fill and retain the necessary positions a clear strategy must emerge that encompasses not only pay and reward, but an undertaking that the employee can feasibly see out their career under the NHS. The threat of the private market competitors is therefore an important factor. This assignment will attempt to identify what heading the NHS falls under in terms of its recruitment and retention strategy (see appendix Part 1 A).

There is an inequality found amongst standard economic theory that assumes all workers are equally productive and therefore the recruitment strategies should be simple. In real terms, jobs are heterogeneous and therefore the uncertainty lies in who will perform in what role (Stigler 1962).

For the NHS, as well as other employers this means that specific requirements need to be established in order to recruit the most well suited employee. The NHS have therefore set up mathematical tests for those who wish to enter the financial departments at a graduate administrative level, followed by an interview in which applicants are quizzed on their ability to manage time and resources effectively (doh.org.uk). This is one part of four items of flexibility involved in organisational planning, numeracy. The other three are functional, time and location specific. For hours worked employees have rights regarding the European Working Time Directive and the service must respect this. However the organisation has to look for employees who will (if necessary) relocate and work flexible hours so that more staff truly are working differently.

The testing of candidates is vertical in its alignment with strategy but also horizontal in order to ensure that the prospective employee will fit into the overall culture of the organisation. The expenditure on recruitment programs is justified according to Rynes et al who discovered that the policies undertaken in order to recruit the best candidate would have a significant effect on the applicants employed. Furthermore they concluded that recruiting the right candidate could significantly enhance the firm’s performance.

According to Torrington and Hall, three factors can be singled out within a company’s recruitment strategy. The factors are as follows:

* Job analysis in order to specify what the job itself entails

* Recruitment strategy in order to make the relevant people aware of the availability of the position

* The selection criteria which must be set in order to separate who is capable of performing in the role and who is not

Job analysis involves a recruitment selection policy that is now increasingly reminiscent of commercial strategy (See Appendix part 1 B). Specifications include the words “innovative” and “multi-disciplinary”, rather than specifying qualifications. Another interesting aspect is the existence of a human resource department that deals with enquiries regarding employment, giving more specific details on request, again in line with industry (See Appendix Part 3).

The horizontal integration of organisational culture is apparent in NHS publications, clearly stating that they would like to hear the views of the staff. This is illustrated through the set-up of a doctors’ forum, brought forward with a view to bring “clinicians into dialogue with policy makers” (doh.gov.uk). Staff morale, a horizontal issue, is targeted through improved “brand management” making the NHS a more attractive organisation to work for.

Advertisements for employment with the NHS are now more widespread than they were five years ago, with the Department of Health taking the time to invest in programmes that encourage new employees to come forward, and ex-employees to return to work. A programme designed to this end is the return to nursing programme, assisting ex nurses to come back into the service through short courses refreshing their competencies (doh.gov.uk).

The issues over value to the organisation and value within the labour market as a whole are captured in Windolf’s diagram below. It is a relatively basic model but if applied to the NHS it can be argued that their past policies have been similar to a company muddling through, with low labour market power in terms of attracting candidates, and poor focus. However, their policies to increase staff levels could be seen to be more flexible, with more recruitment channels being used, and a more thorough selection process replacing rigid criteria requirements to enter (see appendix part 1 A).

It could be argued that the NHS follow a relatively soft HRM strategy, with a large amount of focus being placed upon current members rather than contracting staff from elsewhere in the market to join the organisation. This however is not true across the entire organisation, as agencies are used to source nurses, and certain hospices, such as the St. Johns Hospice in Liverpool are run in association with organisations such as Marie Curie Cancer Care. This was a result of the government’s white paper on health, brought in during the late 1990’s (Donaldson 2000).

The pay structure has undoubtedly become more strategic if we apply policies to the Belcher model (see appendix part one B). Pay is firmly aligned to the contribution of the employee to the organisation, and more account is taken of the attraction of the private sector as a source of employment. The policy has seen a trial of a new F1 and F2 year program for newly qualified medical students in the Merseyside Deanery, aligning contribution more tightly to pay (BMJ.com).

The diagram below is a useful tool to illustrate the overall pressures on the NHS. What is clear is that the labour market plays an important role in determining what policies to take. There are greater expectations of service, combined with pressures to ensure the organisation is ethical, representing the population’s make-up as a whole.

Pressures on Health Services

Advances in Medical Science and Technology

Innovations in Service Delivery Demographic Trends

Shift in People’s Expectations

Donaldson L.J, Donaldson R.J “Essential Public Health” 2nd Ed. Petroc Press 2000

In order to recruit people who fulfil the roles expected, the NHS have shifted their recruitment policies away from a rigid suitability strategy (See Appendix Part 1 D) towards a more malleable one (Price 2004). This reflects their commitment to “working differently”, and reflects the need for multi-tasking.

The need for multi-tasking has arisen through staff shortages that have exposed the fact that many employees had skills that were non-transferable, and therefore in situations where shortages existed, the reputation of the organisation was put on the line. These policies are clearly reactive (Armstrong 1999), with the published results and performance of the service causing damage to reputation, which needed repair. This is the opposite to proactive steps taken by companies in order to pre-empt emerging difficulties, using policy to affect the future.

Measuring Success

As the policies adopted progress there should be some visible growth in staff numbers. However the targets set are quite high and it is also important that the service has to ensure the highest quality is still present within the increased numbers. This is why the service has attempted to bring back former employees, because they have proven themselves capable of working at the required level.

The changes seen as a result of the implemented policies are best compared to the overall labour market characteristics, and what kind of employer people strive to work for. To become an attractive place to work, the service has gone about introducing improved benefits for employees competing with private organisations who offer various benefits.

As far as service is concerned, measurement is numerical with waiting lists and service assessments forming the basis of arguments for and against previous policy implementation. My suggestion for measurement would be to conduct an audit of the business operation year upon year, surmising all regional data into comparable factors, setting benchmarks (despite this being unpopular amongst some managers) in the best regions. Publishing the figures puts a large amount of pressure on the organisation to succeed, but the public themselves have a right to review the service. This does exist but not to the extent whereby Mr Smith could go online and access data from his region’s NHS hospitals and compare it across the national playing field.

How do the Policies taken fit to the Organisation from a Horizontal Perspective?

The first change to link all sections of the organisation involves modernisation of systems. This change involves a change in the overall structure, involving all aspects from primary to emergency care, through to the complaints procedure.

The national staff opinion survey is central to the horizontal implementation of policy, with the goal being to evaluate the morale of staff on a local and national level. The questionnaire has been developed in association with all sections of the NHS, with all staff being eligible to take part. This relates back to the earlier diagram by Windolf, where it was shown that through effective use of resources, firms can compete against rivals within the labour market who have an apparent advantage with regards to resources.

To allow a change in career direction, and to allow for a more focused vertical alignment, the role redesign workshop was brought in. This is horizontal in that it ensures all staff are allowed to adjust their speciality, and vertical in that organisational policy is to attract the multi-skilled.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development ask the question of who comes first where recruitment is concerned – is it the person or the job? Iles and Salaman (1995) concluded that a person orientated competency approach was the best practice, which is a policy the NHS is now moving towards. However there are still many organisations who believe that the job comes first, followed by the person.

Concluding from the evidence retrieved it is clear that the NHS has been forced into change through external economic shifts involving the labour market and the competitive nature of the workplace in terms of benefits available. It is impossible to predict whether the policies will avoid the potential pit-falls, such as diluted quality due to increased staff levels. But it can be seen that the policies are largely vertical, with the horizontal elements being a resultant entity, formed in order to ensure the staff are happy with the changes implemented. As the policies are very new the organisation does not omit a highly focused corporate focus, there is more emphasis on results through flexibility and innovation, however this has only recently become the case, and may cease to be the state of play should the service need to adopt a harder recruitment policy, sourcing its staff externally to achieve competence.



Bamberger, Meshoulam Human Resource Strategy Sage Publications London 2000

Belcher, John G “How to Design and Implement a Results-Oriented Variable Pay System 1996

Bohlander, G. W, Scott A. Snell Managing Human Resources South Western Publishers 2003

Boxall Strategy and Human Resource Management (Management, Work and Organizations) Blackwell 1991

Donaldson L.J, Donaldson R.J “Essential Public Health” 2nd Ed. Petroc Press 2000

Iles and Salaman (1995) Strategic Human Resource Management: Instructor’s Manual Blackwell Publishers 1997

Price “Human Resource Management in a Business Context”, Thomson Learning 2004

Russo, Rietveld, Nijkamp and Gorter C, “Issues in Recruitment Strategies: an economic perspective” International Journal Of Career Management Volume 7 Number 3 1995

Shuler “Managing Human Resources through strategic partnerships” eighth ed.1992

Stigler, G.J., “Information in the labour market”, Journal of Political Economy, 1962, 94-105.

Torrington, D., Hall, L., Personnel Management, Prentice-Hall, Cambridge, 1991

Windolf Recruitment and Selection in the Labour Market: A Comparative Study of Britain and West Germany Avebury 1988

Wright, P. M., and Snell, S.A. ‘Toward a unifying framework for exploring fit and flexibility in strategic human resource management’. Academy of Management Review 1998 23/4: 756-772. Also sourced from website material backing up content at:


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