The impact of the 'contract culture' on recruitment in voluntary organisations operating in the UK health and social care sector
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This research examines the impact of the ‘contract culture’ on recruitment in voluntary sector health and social care organisations from the perspective of those responsible for hiring paid staff. The issues, which formed the core areas for deeper investigation, were those identified from the literature review and included brand, formal structures, skills, pay, rewards and benefits in relation to attracting paid staff, intrinsic vs. extrinsic rewards, cuts in benefits, impact on psychological contract, uncompetitive benefit packages, and tenure with regard to terms and conditions. However, these findings were based on only a small number of largely practitioner/professional publications and required more systematic investigation, which was completed during the second phase of this study. As the study is focused on the perceptions of hirers, sense-making theory has been used to explore what hirers believe the main issues to be. Personal Construct Theory and the elicitation of constructs from supplied elements were used together with the Repertory Grid Technique as a primary data collection tool. A questionnaire was used in the second stage of the research, and this was designed to incorporate the collection of both quantitative and qualitative data. The principal findings of this research show the impact that the ‘contract culture’ is having on recruitment in voluntary sector organisations. The study concludes that there are issues with pay, as the voluntary sector is unable to compete with the public and private sector remuneration packages; there is also confusion surrounding the voluntary sector’s brand as there is an assumption that the sector does not require skilled professionals or pay its staff, that few graduates are attracted to the sector, that there are skills gaps in business and tendering, that work-life balance is poor, and that an increase in fixed-term contracts is impacting on relationships between employers and employees. A lack of inter-sector partnership working was also found, from the perception of hirers, to be associated with contract dependency due to the increase in competition for funding. The outcomes of this empirical research will have relevance to the voluntary sector, commissioners, policy-makers, academic institutions and recruitment agencies. In addition, the key issues identified as impacting on recruitment will provide a foundation for recruitment strategies and talent management within the voluntary sector.