Children’s social workers at North Somerset Council could be asked to share content about their jobs for TikTok, as the council aims to attract more people to work for it.

Currently, 40% of the children’s social work team at the council is made up of agency staff due to difficulties in retaining and recruiting staff. A report into a working group’s recommendations to tackle the issue by councillor Joe Tristram (Banwell and Winscombe, Green) said: “For most family interventions, continuity of support is crucial and this necessitates a team of long-term committed social workers.”

The report, which went before the council’s children’s and young people’s scrutiny panel on February 22, recommended the council review career progression, consider retention bonuses, boost morale by creating an “academy” structure for learning and development, and carrying out “exit interviews” to find out what could attract departing social workers back to the council in the future.  Although the measures would cost the council money, it is hoped that having to rely less on expensive agency staff would save money overall.

Children’s services at the council is currently rated “requires improvement to be good” by Ofsted and is set to overspend its £31.3m budget by £7.34m. Most of the overspend is being driven by the increasing number of children being placed in care and inflation, but the need to appoint more agency workers is also a key area of overspending.

North Somerset’s situation is not unique, with many councils across the country struggling with these issues, but Mr Tristram’s report added that other similar councils in the South West had managed to improve their staffing situation. The report said: “North Somerset benefits from being a very attractive and relatively cheap place to live and our council has the reputation for being a kind and caring employer, but this is not widely enough or well enough publicised.”

Although children’s social workers at the council post on professional social media site LinkedIn, the report warned that social work students and younger social workers are less likely to use the website and that it could be more effective to post on TikTok and Instagram. It suggested council’s HR or communications teams could ask social workers for content to post on these channels and follow other councils’ lead on the use of social media.

The recommendations will inform a new recruitment and retention strategy for the council.