Acorn Care and Education


“Our average cost per hire dropped from £1,500, to just £365 in the course of one year. This saved us £700,000 in the first full year”


Acorn Care and Education is the largest combined children’s services group in the UK. With approximately 1,500 employees, the organisation specialises in working with children and young people who have complex needs. Their needs may be behavioural, emotional, social, learning, physical or a combination.

The challenge

With no systems or processes in place to monitor turnover and staff retention, when the new Group HRD joined it was found that some sites had a staff turnover of 80 to 90%. It was then that the organisation realised they needed to monitor their HR metrics much more closely to look at why these metrics were so high.

They also found each site was managing their own recruitment, for example advertising job board posts were bought individually at a high price rather than a bulk purchase at a cheaper rate knowing the amount of hires they would be making.

Secondly, given the organisation’s work with children and vulnerable young people, ensuring the processes were safe and compliant with safer recruitment principals was pivotal as well as the commercial element of managing recruitment more effectively.

Choosing Jobtrain and the implementation

Putting together a project team, Acorn Care and Education involved the organisation in choosing a new system to manage recruitment. The project team looked at the entire end-to-end process (from candidate to employee journey) and what system would help support this. They facilitated the business, so they owned the decision, they mapped that process for what worked for them and they were instrumental in determining the recruitment software for them.

The results

  • The teamwork between Jobtrain and Acorn meant they saved £700,000 in recruitment costs in the first year.
  • Their average time to hire from job authorisation to hire reduced to 9 weeks.
  • Acorn’s average cost per hire reduced by 75% from £1,500 to just £365 in the course of one year.
  • For the continuity and quality of care, the ‘churn’ rate dropped dramatically as the organisation was now hiring people who knew what a career with Acorn involved.
  • And the candidate experience is more consistent and complies with ‘safer recruitment principles’.

“Our average cost per hire dropped from £1,500, to just £365 in the course of one year”

When the HRD for Acorn Care and Education joined the organisation, she was keen to address a number of problems with the recruitment process. There was a problem with candidates not staying with the business and they were also spending far too much on recruitment activity – in administration, on agency fees and on advertising.

Acorn chose Jobtrain as its applicant tracking system partner and over the course of the first year, working closely with our Client Success team, the audited cost per hire dropped by an amazing 75% to just £365.
More importantly, for the continuity and quality of care, the ‘churn’ rate also dropped dramatically as the organisation was now hiring people who knew what a career with Acorn was all about.

The great teamwork between Jobtrain and Acorn meant they saved £700,000 in recruitment costs in the first year – now that is a good return on investment!

VIDEO: Acorn Care and Education saved over £500,000 since implementing Jobtrain

Recorded at CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition 2016 at Manchester Central, Sharon Benson, the Group HR Director at Acorn Care and Education, discusses with Jobtrain MD, Chris, Acorn’s experience of recruiting using the Jobtrain applicant tracking system since implementing the the online recruitment solution in 2015.

The interview is split into seven “bitesize” sections in the playlist below.