Sharp productivity gains for Council environmental services
“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
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.
The SolutionGiven 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.
The local Blue Arrow branch quickly understood the impact of lockdown on the local community, placing a variety of individuals into refuse collection roles.
A deep understanding of the client’s requirements and its culture, combined with use of the online platform allowed Blue Arrow’s recruitment team to source quality candidates quickly, simplifying sorting and selection of CV’s and completing registration in as little as 30 minutes, a process that would take much longer if handled manually. Successful candidates were immediately slotted into available shifts or held on a shortlist for imminent release of new requirements, enabling the Council’s workforce demands and collections’ standards to be sustained during the crisis.
Blue Arrow was able to draw on its pre-existing talent community by sourcing candidates from roles and industries where there was high displacement of reliable temporary workers. The diverse intake included owners of companies forced to close, airline staff, taxi drivers, chefs, and HGV drivers from other sectors. Many grew to love the work and remained with the Council post-lockdown.
Rapid time to hire resulted in SMS campaigns being the principal contact medium achieving the fastest and greatest open and response rates by interested candidates. Integration with our e-recruitment system meant that we could run SMS campaigns that automated much of the application and registration process, reducing the total time to hire. It also helped mitigate some of the impacts of not being able to meet all candidates face-to-face. Together these two elements helped the recruitment team to engage quickly with successful candidates and get them ready to start their first day at work.
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