08th May 2015 Written by James Moreton

Image: Values Based Recruitment.James Moreton, Skills for Health Regional Director England (East), discusses the importance of an organisation’s internal values in relation to Values Based Recruitment (VBR)

Values Based Recruitment is a phrase being used around the NHS more frequently, with huge amounts of money being poured into VBR over the last 18 months or so. Everyone, quite rightly, wants to ensure that those being recruited into NHS roles have got the right approach – a caring and compassionate attitude (whether this can be tested for is another matter). However, isn’t that approach wasted if the organisation they are being recruited to work for has an entirely different set of values/culture? And is there a danger that their values end up being ‘managed’ out of them?

At Skills for Health we want to give organisations the ability to understand their current values and culture, to see how deep those values run, and ultimately how these values impact on patient care. We developed a Values Based Care Diagnostic programme, which we trialled across 10 NHS Trusts and Higher Education organisations in the East of England. The programme identifies and articulates how your corporate values and values base map against key policy drivers – such as the NHS constitution, and enables results to be fed into your future organisational development plans. Through a variety of methods – interviews, workshops, questionnaires etc., we looked to spot re-occurring trends and themes, important specific findings and generalizable anecdotes, examples and impressions.

james moreton blog may15Our report demonstrated that ‘good values’ in the NHS are under significant pressure. Managers and staff at every level are trying to manage the tensions that exist between competing economic, ethical, and emotional values. The project holds a lens to these tensions by looking at some underlying themes:


  • Corporate values alignment
  • The impact of rewards and punishment within cultures
  • Personal values and value judgements
  • Emphasis given to economic, ethical and emotional values
  • Personal and organisational wellbeing
  • Values and leadership

To give you three headlines, we found;

1. The pressures that managers are under tend to force them to emphasise economic values. Many clinical practitioners are reluctant to abandon the principle of ‘best possible care’ in favour of ‘the care we can afford’

2. The true level of real service loss is being masked by the goodwill and values of staff in a way that is not sustainable

3. When asked about the emphasis on different values in their own organisations, many staff indicate that a rebalancing is required to strengthen emotional values. Staff feel undervalued because they perceive that the level of care for them as people is being undermined. They comment “how can the carers care if they feel undervalued and that the system has little regard for their own wellbeing?”

If you would like to find out more about how Skills for Health can help support you and your organisation with your values based recruitment strategy, please contact your regional director to arrange a meeting.