On the back of the Government's "Be a force for all" campaign, supporting the recruitment 20,000 more police officers - we're having lots of conversations with forces across the UK.
Many of the conversations are around how they can promote their local employer brand - attract more diverse talent.
So it's interesting to take a look at the report from BIT - based on work with 21 police forces across the USA - which tested which marketing messages and changes to the recruitment process had the greatest impact on recruitment of under-represented groups.
Three aspects which stand out to me - and echo findings from TMP's work in the UK:
1. Tap into new sources of motivation: Reasons for joining the police are varied, and standard advertising of policing jobs often focuses on a narrow set of motivational messages. Even small changes in how jobs are advertised can make a real difference to both the total number of applicants and the diversity of those applicants. Interestingly for BAME audiences, generic messages around ‘the challenge’ consistently under-performed with several US forces.
2. Process matters: Once a candidate shows interest in joining a police force, they must jump through a series of administrative hoops that cause many eligible candidates to drop out of the process. While many forces focus on drawing in new candidates, improving these procedural pain points not only makes recruitment more efficient but can also keep great candidates in the process.
3. Your next recruit may not be where you’re looking: While police departments spend immense effort and resources in outreach to specific neighbourhoods and colleges, sometimes potential recruits are not where we would expect. Reaching out to those who have already shown some interest in public service may be particularly effective and reaching out to targeted neighbourhoods may backfire.
The learning? One size certainly doesn’t fit all. If you want to change the profile of people you recruit, you need to change the message, medium and processes.
Our work so far has informed the following conclusions: 1. Cities should tap into new sources of motivation Even small changes in how jobs are advertised can make a real difference in both the total number of applicants and the diversity of those applicants. Policing has traditionally been framed as a public service job, and when we asked active officers to assign scores to a range of different reasons for taking the job, a desire to “help people in the community” consistently came out top. When it comes to motivating new applicants, however, the story gets more complicated. For example, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, postcards asking “Are you ready to serve?” were no better at soliciting applications than sending no postcard at all. But postcards asking “Are you up for the challenge? or “Are you looking for a long-term career?” attracted three times more applicants than the no-postcard group and drove a fourfold increase in applications from people of color.