Most FRS HR/ OD departments already have a promotions process in place. But many are also interested in other solutions. So why the potential interest in change?


HMI Reports

After receiving reports from recent HMI inspections, many FRS’s have had areas identified that require improvement, specifically within their assessment and promotions processes. The areas that seem to be a common theme amongst many FRS’s are; transparency, fairness, identifying high potential and promotion processes for non-operational staff. Outsourcing the promotions processes to a specialist in the field can enable FRS’s to confidently address their shortcomings in a demonstrable way, to not only meet future inspection requirements, but also to improve the promotions experience for all FRS personnel.



Never easy to manage, but options for outsourced assessment processes can vary dramatically in price. It’s always worth opening discussion with the provider of the solution you are interested in. They may be able to offer flexible solutions, adapting their service to meet your needs and price. At VCA we developed a new ‘CPG Feedback LITE’ version of our Career Progression Gateway online assessment to meet the needs of a service with a high volume of candidates. This reduced-cost service offers many of the advantages of the original CPG, but offers alternative price banding.


Demands on limited people resources

Time spent handling assessments in-house can be considerable, and from what we have been hearing over the last two years, pressure on staff is increasing. During promotions activity, the extra workload can be enormous, which can contribute to stress and poorer work-life balance. Fortunately, there are options which can out-source a huge amount of the work, from timetabling and facilitating assessments to feedback reports and discussions. Outsourcing may not seem affordable at first look, but that’s perhaps without the full context of the hidden costs of internally managed promotions.


Candidate Dissatisfaction

If candidates are voicing discontent, a shared climate of distrust and dissatisfaction can develop, and that can be difficult to shift without a change in process. A benefit of a change in assessment process is that you can also make changes to information sharing, briefing, feedback and candidate preparation support. Time spent on these elements will improve candidates’ perceptions of fairness, understanding of the process and acceptance of outcomes. Some companies, Like VCA Ltd, will provide materials to make sure you’re able to do this effectively, without adding to your workload.


Are we selecting the right people?

The results of your assessments are never going to please everyone, but if there is a lack of confidence that the right people are being promoted it can be hard to maintain the credibility of your chosen process. If you are looking to choose an alternative, it can be helpful to opt for methods which are tried and tested, so you can draw on the experience and results from other FRS to confirm the results and validity of your own practice.


Practical Suggestions

Experiencing one or two of the above issues can be frustrating, but may not be enough to push a change agenda. But when a few of these issues begin to pile up, it might start to seem necessary to consider new options. There are some ways to manage this to ensure that any transition is smooth, supported and successful. Here are some suggestions.

  1. Ask for demonstrations of new solutions, ideally with independent access so you can have a look round what is on offer after a more formal presentation.
  2. Work out what you want. What is offered might not be exactly what you need, but some companies (particularly smaller ones which are able to be more flexible) are open to adapting their offering to what you need. Small companies, like VCA Ltd, create packages based on what we hear clients need, but are happy to adapt if its not quite hitting the mark!
  3. Gather stakeholders and get them involved, asking for another demonstration for them where they can ask questions and have any concerns addressed.
  4. Hold briefings with potential candidates and line managers so they know what to expect. Ask the solution provider for input into this, providing you with materials or a framework to save you time.
  5. Run a trial with a new process, publicising the fact that the new methods used will be reviewed and feedback taken on board before any more permanent decisions are made.
  6. Find out if there are any discounts available for a trial run of materials. Most companies are confident enough in their product that they will reduce initial costs to allow FRS to test the waters with minimal risk.
  7. If you know you need a change but aren’t sure where to start, don’t worry, it’s very common! Approach different providers for a phone call. Pick their brains on what works with other clients and how they would suggest you proceed, given your individual situation. You don’t need to have all the answers, just an idea of where to find them! At VCA we are always happy to talk through your situation and options as impartially as we can, if our knowledge and experience can be of help.
  8. What do colleagues in other FRS do? Networking and sharing best practice with others facing similar problems could save you all time and spare you a few headaches! Would you be interested in attending a Best Practice Sharing Meeting with colleagues from up to six neighbouring FRS? Send us an email and we will let you know when the meetings will happen in your area.