In a Radio 4 interview, a man who had recently tried to sign up to the reservists cited the following difficulties:
- No one at his local army reserve office knew how he could go about applying (they ended up telling him to go home and look online).
- The online application form blocked his application when he couldn’t answer one of the first questions. There was no way to move on and come back to that question later.
- There was a lack of response on a phone line.
This is big news because it affects the paid workforce of the UK’s military forces.
However, if you are involved in the voluntary sector it may all sound familiar. These are issues that we have been aware of and fighting against for many years now in our efforts to recruit sufficient skilled volunteers for charities and non-profits (and yes, I know that reservists aren’t volunteers, but there are similarities).
Fantastic progress has been made, with many charity sector organisations now leading the way in effective and efficient recruitment – if only the army had come to us we could have pointed them in the right direction!
Unfortunately there are still volunteer-involving organisations trying to recruit volunteers without getting the right things in place. Like the would-be reservist above, would-be volunteers can’t get through to the right person, the system doesn’t always work, and there can be long delays.
The army has now launched a £3million recruitment campaign to boost both regular and reserve forces. Very few voluntary organisations could ever afford to do likewise, so we have to get it right to capitalise on each and every individual who considers volunteering with us. Even with £3million, the army may still find it hard to recruit if people can’t get through the application process.
So come on voluntary sector, if you had the ear of the head of the army, what would be your top tip for how to improve recruitment?
And could you learn anything from this affair to help you in your volunteer recruitment?