Russell Group University

The university is a Russell Group and global top 100 University, providing quality higher education to over 6,500 students from around the world.  They are ranked in the top 20 in the Complete University Guide 2023 and the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023.

The challenge

The university identified opportunities to improve the consistency, compliance and efficiency of its use of staffing services. With variable spend patterns on staffing arrangements and the high volume of agency staff pay and invoices to manage, processes were time-consuming and prone to human error. There were evens risks of non-compliance to IR35 regulations and right to work checks where there were disparate and fragmented approaches to how different departments procured and managed localised staffing arrangements.

The university recognised the need to streamline its supply chain through the introduction of a preferred supplier list (PSL) and to ensure that the PSL included staffing agencies who could cover the full range of staff required by the university whilst also demonstrate a defined set of standard working practises. With each faculty and department working in isolation of each other, the university was missing the chance to manage cost, quality and benefit from economies of scale. The need to comply with Public Contract Regulations also formed an important driver for change.

The University recognised the need to implement a Managed Service, and following a competitive tender process awarded the contract to Tate as the Managed Service Provider (MSP) to supply flexible staff and to deliver the following:

  • Cost savings from managing & rationalising the existing supply chain.
  • Creating a uniform pay and charge matrix.
  • Introduction of niche & specialist supply partners.
  • Mitigate risk of non-compliance to temporary worker legislation & IR35 regulations.
  • Introduce efficiencies in the staff procurement and supply process by making it uniform and controlled.
  • Visibility of spend and quality through central management information.
  • Consolidated invoice process across all suppliers to improve financial control, increase visibility and reduce cost.
  • Development and deployment of a Vendor Management System (VMS) to capture the complete end-to-end recruitment supply chain.

“The experience of working with the University over the last 2 years has been extremely rewarding and created a true partnership between our organisations. From initial award and implementation during the pandemic, through to onboarding and on-going delivery, the journey has been very positive. As with any large MSP contract, there are challenges to be addressed and adjustments to be made; but we’ve always worked in partnership to overcome any obstacle and deliver a great recruitment service to the University hiring community.” John O’Brien, Corporate Sales Director

The solution

As the scope of supply encompasses a wide range of roles; Tate utilise not only supply roles from its own endeavours, but it also engages with specialist teams within other agencies within the PSL to source and fill these roles, which range from living wage roles such as cleaning and catering staff, through to interim finance, procurement and IT specialists.

To source candidates Tate implements a range of activities including featured listings on its own job board and website to profile the benefits of working for the University, social media advertising, attending local job fairs co-branded with the University and attending the University’s Open Days to engage with students for flexible or fixed-term work opportunities.

Service delivery is via a dedicated team that uses on-line technology to manage flexible worker requests as well as timesheets for all agency workers. It also provides the client with live Management Information on spend and qualitative data such as satisfaction levels, fulfilment statistics, time to hire, worker tenure, assignments completed, open vacancies, supplier rankings and pay trends.

Tate’s technology platform is central to the candidate screening and selection process, enabling university or Tate recruitment staff to screen and profile personalities, ensuring that only the most suitable candidates are shortlisted, saving valuable time to hire.

The Tate team works closely with the University’s Human Resources team to ensure their employer value proposition (EVP) is represented effectively.  Staff receive generous holiday allowance, a good pension contribution for permanent staff, and pay parity between permanent and flexible staff are well promoted in all adverts as key benefits.

In addition to the day-to-day MSP service delivery Tate provides the University with market intelligence for permanent roles that they continue to recruit for themselves. Tate Consultants provide the faculty hiring managers with online coaching sessions on topics such as interviewing and getting the most out of their teams. Tate Consultants also support the University with reviewing job descriptions for their permanent roles.

The journey

Implementation started in early 2020, and the delivery team were asked to support the University earlier than the planned go-live date. This was due to high recruitment demands across various faculties, as a result of Covid related procedures, i.e. touchpoint cleaning, student catering, customer service support, and various remote administrative roles to assist day-to-day operations. 

As part of the launch of the new Managed Service, the dedicated Tate Account Team met with the 11 faculties and Professional Service departments via webinars and meetings to launch the new hiring process. This has continued beyond go-live, and by engaging with all stakeholders and partnering with the University’s HR and Procurement teams, the relationship has flourished and been extremely successful. To monitor feedback Tate have implemented satisfaction surveys for hiring managers and for candidates to share and promote feedback and ideas for ongoing development. 

The implementation of the contract was complex including a new hiring process launched to 11 departments and 250+ staff with a new vacancy approval process to ensure cost and quality controls were in place from day one.

A key standout point of success stories so far includes Tate’s strict compliance management to IR35 and Right to Work regulations. Tate assume full responsibility and have robust systems in place to manage the process.

Tate met with all suppliers interested in being on the PSL to understand their historic and current relationships, areas of strength and niche specialisms and then engaged the very best suppliers onto a partnership programme to support the University’s full breadth of job roles.

As a result of Tate’s robust compliance management, the University asked the team to operate a payroll service for identified contractors that regularly work for them.  Tate ensure compliance to relevant regulations and can onboard and pay these individuals quickly and efficiently.

During the early stages of this partnership, invoicing was a critical part of the implementation of the new Managed Service with both parties challenged by the complexity of university financial systems and controls. Tate worked with the university’s Accounts Payable team to establish a workflow that accommodated their systems, while providing hiring managers with the visibility they needed over current and projected spend per department.

Since go-live, Tate has built-up a healthy talent pipeline of candidates who have been cleared to work at the University and are fully compliant and ready for service.  This results in vacancies being filled quickly.

The results

The efficiency of Tate’s online technology and staffing expertise has resulted in improvements on cost management, compliance and overall efficiency, year-on-year, demonstrating a highly successful MSP partnership.

  • 100% fulfilment of all contingent worker roles with an approximate £3.5m annual spend.
  • 24% reduction in the time taken to fill vacancies in the first year.
  • 178% more roles filled in the second year compared to year 1.
  • Less than 2% of flexible workers fail to complete their agreed assignment, keeping attrition very low.
  • Less than 3% declined an offer to work at the University, indicating a successfully targeted candidate attraction, engagement and onboarding strategy.

Centralised and improved Management Information enables the University to identify the number of workers engaged at any time, cost of engagement and ensure that payment is aligned to pay levels, enabling the University to make strategic decisions to support its workforce planning activity.

The University are extremely satisfied their new Managed Service for staffing with Tate actively supporting 253 hiring managers across the university.

“Tate has sourced some really great candidates since I started working with them. They ensure that the candidates they put forward are suitable and have the relevant experience to carry-out the role we require. The Tate team are friendly and approachable and the communication between them and us has been excellent. Their response time is fast, and they are a very supportive and informative team.”  University Hiring Manager.

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