County Council

Sharp productivity gains for  Council environmental services

postal services staffing supply
Blue Arrow Council

Company Overview

One of the largest councils in the South East, serving a population of over 275,000 people, projected to rise to 290,000 by 2021, provides a full range of local government services.

The council which covers 21 electoral districts; eight with seafront boundaries and ten have areas within and/or share a boundary with a National Park, recognises the importance of mitigating the effects of climate change. Tackling global warming forms a key element in its plans to create a fairer city with a sustainable future. As part of its goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, the Council has developed its ‘One Planet Sustainability Action Plan’ with partners, containing targets and actions to improve the sustainability of its operations and deliver benefits across the city. As well as maximising reuse of materials and reducing consumption of natural resources, the Council’s objective is to send no waste to landfill through its corporate contracts.

The Council’s Cityclean services look after waste collection and management (refuse, recycling, and garden waste). Cityclean is also responsible for keeping the City’s streets clean, which includes weeding and sweeping and looking after local beaches, plus clearing up after major events such as the annual Pride celebrations.

With some of the highest population density levels in the South East covering around 121,000 households. Household waste collected that is not sent for reuse, recycling or composting is around 590 kilogrammes per household. The total recycling and composting rate in the city stands at around 27 per cent. With a relatively low vehicle ownership, waste collection performs a vital role in keeping the city clean.

“The Blue Arrow team have always met seasonal demands for this client. We approached the COVID crisis in much the same way and the partnership played a vital role in keeping the city’s refuse and collection services running.”

Ollie Tingley, Recruitment Consultant, Blue Arrow

The Challenge

Prior to the COVID outbreak, Cityclean processed up to 16 tonnes of waste a month. This figure subsequently tripled during lockdown, representing an increase in waste and recycling handled of 160 tonnes over a six-month period.

With an aging workforce and many of those with vulnerabilities having to adopt shielding measures, some 50% of the Cityclean staff went on extended leave when the COVID-19 lockdown was announced.The Council turned to Blue Arrow as a preferred supplier and first point of contact for Collections and Street temporary staff recruitment, for help with backfilling the staff shortfall to meet the unprecedented demands on waste collection services.

Drivers were particularly hard hit by the increased demand, leading to a ten-fold increase in temporary staff, from just 2 staff up to 20 drivers, covering diverse roles including HGV class 2 drivers and van drivers (for cage vehicles), plus temporary minibus drivers. Similarly, the demand for temporary loaders doubled, increasing the number of employees to 40.

A further challenge was the requirement for social distancing which meant candidates could not be interviewed on-site or have their right to work documentation validated face-to-face.

The constant need for backfilling shortlists and a high volume of applicants due to local unemployment during lockdown, called for rapid processing of applications to find candidates who best matched the skills need for the roles. On one occasion, for example, 245 applications were received for just 5 positions.

Blue Arrow Council

The Solution

Given the restrictions on face-to-face contact and the need for fast time to hire, Blue Arrow’s e-recruitment platform was a critical element of the recruitment process. The system enabled the central Account Team to efficiently manage the end-to-end process from placing ads, through to candidate selection. Additional support came in the form of an extended 24/7 support team.
Blue Arrow Council

The Journey

The client runs its own recruitment campaign targeting some 18,000 vacancies from September.

Blue Arrow supports this programme through the provision of recruitment staff to attend over 400 recruitment open-day events throughout the UK during the eight-week programme.

This activity is underpinned by a dedicated team of Blue Arrow compliance and vetting specialists who maintain high levels of governance around legal recruitment check standards. At the end of the national roadshow of recruitment events, there can be acute staffing needs that remain in geographical pockets around the country. This is where the national footprint of Blue Arrow’s branches of Recruitment Specialists is ready to supplement with local contingent staff as and when needed.

The Results

Blue Arrow continued to maintain its COVID-19 fulfilment levels throughout the increase in demand. This included doubling of the demand for operatives from 27 to 53 employees overnight, as lockdown came into effect at the end of March 2020. At peak demand in May 2020, the team were also meeting increased driver demand with the usual complement of 3 HGV drivers rising to 11 drivers and 7 minibus drivers. The demand for yard cleaners was also doubled.

After the shielding timescale came to an end, Cityclean brought in a phased return to work, including part-time hours for permanent staff, which Blue Arrow continued to supplement with its valuable, contingent workforce.

“Blue Arrow kept the service moving in difficult times during recent months with their reliable supply of contingent staff.”

Operations Manager, at the Council

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