Hiring: Various ways to tackle the demand for new talent

We have been working hard, searching for solutions to our high demand for new talent. Several options exist, and by implementing these we are aiming to ensure efficient hiring processes in the years to come. 

In order to improve staff availability, we founded a new unit, which began operating as part of the City Executive Office at the start of the year. The unit coordinates city-wide operations, for example by improving the employer’s image, applicant experience, skilled recruitment processes and staff availability in sectors with high demand for new employees.  

The unit’s hiring service team began work in March. By the following autumn, the team had grown to include five recruitment experts.  

Improving our hiring services and developing new hiring concepts are the first main goals of the team. The City Executive Office HR department has taken part in the hiring processes for senior management in the divisions and municipal enterprises. 

Now, we want to expand the service, and therefore the HR department has been made a regular part of all senior management recruitment. Help and support with both an entire hiring process or a specific part of it, depending on the situation, is available for the recruitment processes of key employees and service managers. 

This will help conserve HR resources. Simultaneously, we are able to take advantage of the knowledge regarding applicants and functional hiring methods in all our divisions.    

Help from modern tools 

Hiring requires various tools and methods in order to be successful, at their best providing the process with critical support.  

In order for the right applicants to see a job advertisement, it must be made visible to the target group with the right type of recruitment marketing. However, challenging application processes and management level jobs often require further measures. A great help comes from a so-called sourcing service, which actively approaches desirable talents. The divisions and municipal enterprises can request this service from the City Executive Office’s recruitment service team. 

Other means of facilitating an easier hiring process include using video interviews, and these have now been implemented as part of the Helbit hiring system. 

Help from interest representation 

At the beginning of the year, we, together with the divisions and the City’s interest representation unit, determined the key influencing objectives and needs that could help resolve the lack of workforce in various areas. This was done to improve staff availability, both by promoting employee interests and working actively together with universities, for example. 

One of our first measures to promote staff availability was to redetermine the basis for allocating homes arranged for employees by the City, in order to promote hiring in sectors with high demand for new staff.  

In the summer, we launched a project dubbed Root Causes for Lack of Workforce, in which we studied these causes in various sectors using service design methods. The project will continue in 2021.  

The City has a particularly high need for new, competent early childhood education and care staff. In order to improve the situation, the Mayor appointed a special task force team in the spring, and one of its duties is to gain an overall understanding of the situation and working conditions in this field, and to propose suitable measures.   

Despite the pandemic, our work was active and goal-oriented. The City’s active interest representation and cooperation bore fruit, as the University of Helsinki decided to increase the number of new early childhood education and care students with the help of funding made available by the government’s amending budget. 

Hiring foreign-language speakers 

As part of the Osaaminen käyttöön Suomessa (‘Utilising existing skills in Finland’) project, the City took part in the SIMHE (Supporting Immigrants in Higher Education) cooperation programme. The project’s methods continue to be used, which promotes the employment of staff with immigrant backgrounds in care work and early childhood education. 

Thanks to two projects (Osaaminen käyttöön Suomessa and Sote-silta), we managed to hire over 30 nurses for internships in the Social Services and Health Care Division, and 20 of them were offered permanent positions at the end of their internship period.  

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, hiring people from abroad was difficult. Therefore, we focused on improving the recruitment of foreign-language speakers who were already in Finland. We have identified factors that hinder or stop foreign-language speakers from being hired by the City. 

The City is taking part in the Helsinki University International Talent Programme, run for the first time, in which different city organisation divisions receive a group of international students for mentoring. The programme will continue until spring 2021. 

In addition to this, we have identified the divisions’ wishes and options for increasing international students’ internship opportunities, and improved our skills in recognising qualifications gained abroad. This work will also continue. 

The City’s supervisors and HR staff responsible for hiring received training on diversity in workplace communities.  

3,700 summer employees 

Developing proactive recruitment means is vital for promoting staff availability in the longer run. Over the course of the year, the City hired approximately 3,700 summer employees. Their overall number decreased from the previous year by about 200 people. 

In the summer, we carried out a summer entrepreneurship programme for young people together with 4H and Talous ja nuoret TAT, and the programme helped nearly 130 young people find employment and try out their business ideas in practice.   

The nature of employment fairs and student events changed drastically, as nearly all participation took place in virtual environments. The city organisation reacted to this by developing more online participation options and events.   

A good summer job 

Since 2010, we have been taking part in the Responsible Summer Jobs campaign. Based on a campaign survey, young people feel that we have succeeded in improving the City as a summer job provider, because we scored better than before in almost all the categories. 

As part of the World’s Most Functional City programme, we carried out our first summer job project – an idea originating from the Mayor – in which the City hired 25 residents to monitor the functionality of roadwork arrangements and the City’s services, as well as areas needing improvement.  

We also launched a trainee programme in the City Executive Office HR department, and this work will continue and expand.   

Job applicant experiences identified increasingly well 

A positive applicant experience has a significant effect on the employer’s image and subsequently on staff availability. In May, we introduced an applicant experience survey, which helped us assess the experiences that applicants who have undergone the City’s hiring process have.   

Applicant experiences are largely shaped during the application period based on the actions of people taking part in the process (supervisors and HR people). The survey allows us to analyse applicants’ experiences regarding job advertisements, communications during the application process and any interviews. We also ask applicants to make an overall assessment of their application experience.  

We review the results quarterly and identify any development needs in our hiring skills based on these results. If any areas need improvement, we arrange training and coaching. 

The aim is to learn together and become an increasingly attractive employer through well-managed hiring processes.  

We went over the survey results acquired by the end of autumn in our steering committees. We learnt that our strengths included appealing job advertisements and their adequate information content. On the other hand, the list of areas requiring improvement included communicating with applicants from the very start of the process and informing them of the application process’s progress. In 2021, we will improve our communication with job applicants with new communication material and by factoring in this communication when planning recruitment skill training.