From transport and housing to libraries and culture, Bristol City Council supports residents and services in its community. The Council recruits for a diverse range of job roles.


Empowering Hiring Managers in Public Sector Recruitment

Bristol City Council, one of the largest local authorities in England, is supporting residents and delivering a range of services in and around the city of Bristol.

Setting the scene

Bristol City Council (BCC) implemented Unit4 Recruitment, a cloud Applicant Tracking System (ATS) delivered by Hireserve.

Before this, the BCC Recruitment team processed upwards of 20,000 applications a year using legacy systems and manual methods which were no longer fit for purpose.

Lorraine Howells, Recruitment Manager at Bristol City Council, explained a little more about the challenges faced by her and her colleagues:

“Previously, our recruitment processes relied heavily on the HR & Recruitment team, with little involvement from Hiring Managers.

From approving jobs and shortlisting candidates to requesting references and arranging interviews, our administrative workload was heavy and time consuming. Internal bottlenecks could occur very easily, there was limited visibility over workflows and we had very little data available to us.

All this significantly impacted our time to hire.”


Improving process through implementation

Unit4 Recruitment is a cloud solution which helps to streamline and automate every element of an organisation’s recruitment activity.

During the implementation of Unit4 Recruitment, BCC worked closely with its implementation consultant to review and improve processes.

Now, Hiring Managers drive the entire process, using Unit4 Recruitment to raise a job, screen applicants, create a shortlist of candidates and schedule interviews.

This approach has enabled the Recruitment team to focus on more strategic work and become an advisory service within the organisation, rather than the more transactional role it had previously held. This new approach resulted in initial salary savings of £34,252 in the first year.

At a time when funding for local authorities is increasingly stretched, it is vital for organisations like Bristol City Council to be able reduce costs through automation and to rapidly realise a return on technology investments.


Transforming administration with automation

With ever-growing pressure on public services delivery, being able to attract talent and fill roles quickly and effectively is essential.

Before using Unit4 Recruitment, one of the biggest bottlenecks experienced by Lorraine and her colleagues was during the reference request process. Now, however, Unit4 Recruitment has enabled Lorraine to transform this step.

“Unit4 Recruitment’s automated reference request feature utterly revolutionised the way we work. Previously we had to request and then wait for references via the post, which meant we could experience long delays.

There’s been a vast improvement in the turnaround speed, and it really can be a 10 minute job now, rather than having people sat for days waiting for references to come back in. It’s a better experience for referees too.”

Using the automated references tool, Lorraine estimates her team have been able to save considerable time and manual effort in the processing of reference requests.

This has translated into cost savings of £23,510 per annum for Bristol City Council.


Using data to improve internal positioning

Another benefit of Unit4 Recruitment has been the sophisticated reporting functionality. Alongside standard reports, Lorraine and her colleagues now have access to information that can enhance HR & Recruitment’s position within the organisation.

In previous internal meetings, for example, there was an assumption that jobs were not being progressed by HR, or processes were being held up by the team. Using Unit4 Recruitment, the team can see the exact status of each job and where in the workflow it is sitting.

This level of analysis ensures that the Recruitment function can educate other departments in the organisation and identify where processes are working well, and where improvements can be made.


Empowering Hiring Managers

Overall speed of hire has increased since using Unit4 Recruitment. Not only is there greater visibility between all parties involved in approving and filling a job, but processes that could previously have taken the HR & Recruitment team weeks to complete, such as arranging interviews or requesting references, are now much quicker.

Of key importance is the fact that Hiring Managers are now empowered to take control of their hiring processes, and can screen, shortlist and contact candidates as quickly as they want or need to.

Lorraine’s advice to other public sector organisations and closing thoughts on Unit4 Recruitment?

“If you are a local authority who is still using manual methods to manage your recruitment, an ATS is a must. The cost savings, increased efficiencies and improvements to hiring timescales are vast. At Bristol City Council, we have benefited from empowering our Hiring Managers, reducing administration and improving the candidate experience, and it’s saved us a great deal of time and money.

I would definitely explore using an Applicant Tracking System – and have an open mind about how you can improve your processes or change the way you do things for a more efficient process. Recruitment doesn’t have to be that hard!”

“At Bristol City Council, we have benefited from empowering our Hiring Managers, reducing administration and improving the candidate experience, and it’s saved us a great deal of
time and money.”

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