How do you recruit people with the right values?
A couple of years ago I was in a non-specialist ward of a hospital recovering from an operation on my ankle. I was due to leave but my ankle was much more painful than I’d been expecting. However the nurse told me I had to leave as she needed the bed. I asked for crutches or a wheelchair but she said it would take too long to get them. So I hobbled painfully to the lift and down to the hospital entrance, feeling faint and nauseous. Another nurse saw me struggling and asked me if I was ok and when I said I wasn’t she went to get me a wheelchair.
Looking back I can see that while the first nurse’s position was understandable – she was under pressure to clear the bed – she didn’t consider how that might impact on me, her patient, or what else she could have done to help me.
The rise of values based recruitment tools
So when I was at a psychology conference a couple of weeks ago, one theme really caught my attention – that of values-based recruitment – an issue that was also raised in my customer survey.
Of particular interest to the care sector, the focus on values-based recruitment has come about following the Francis Report into the Mid Staffordshire Hospital crisis in 2013. The report highlights the need to recruit people whose own values reflect those at the heart of the NHS – i.e. putting the patient first.
But how do you go about recruiting for values?
A value is defined as an “enduring belief and principle held by an individual.” If you have no other information on which to base a decision you will be informed by your core beliefs as to what the right thing to do is.
While there are a number of ways to assess a person’s competency – by asking about previous experience, by testing or observing behaviour – how do you measure and evaluate someone’s intrinsic beliefs?
The approach to values-based recruitment shared at the conference was to assess what a candidate had done that demonstrated that they had the value of ‘putting the patient first?’ What is it that people are doing in terms of their behaviour that indicates they have that value?
What’s interesting about this approach is that it turns an intangible value into an observable behaviour. Which means you can then assess candidates in a similar way to how you would for competencies.
And, as with competencies, the first step is to identify what values and associated behaviours you’re looking for.
Then you can create a framework of observable behaviours to measure candidates against. One organisation at the conference used this framework to structure interview questions while another had designed a situational judgement test for candidates.
The key difference between competency-based and values-based recruitment
When you measure competencies you define positive and negative behaviours against which candidates are judged.
Take teamwork. You might define a positive behaviour as involving others in a group discussion and a negative behaviour as ignoring other people’s ideas.
With values-based recruitment, instead of positive and negative behaviours, organisations are using a less judgmental approach – the idea of aligned and non-aligned behaviours.
Take putting the patient first. An aligned behaviour might be responding to a patient’s needs with a bespoke level of care, while a non-aligned behaviour might be responding to a patient’s needs based on the cost-effectiveness of a treatment. The non-aligned behaviour is not a negative behaviour – being aware of cost and efficiency is crucial to the NHS – but it is not allied to the value of putting the patient first.
So in my case, if the nurse looking after me had been more closely aligned to the value of ‘putting the patient first’ rather than ‘efficiency and cost effectiveness’ she may have been able to find an alternative way to both free the bed up and yet still ensure I was sufficiently cared for.