Boots Opticians have recently announced that they want to work more closely with locums, and thus be less reliant on their agency relationships to supply staff to their more than 700 practices.
The high street chain has invested in the creation of a specific recruitment resource to support this shift in policy. It also talks of new and quicker systems to facilitate their working relationships with their locums. Of course I can see how this will make sense from a purely commercial perspective, as it will undoubtedly lead to savings in time and money, and if it means locums can deal direct with the teams who are in effect their eventual employers, I can see clear advantages in that too.And I think that is the really interesting point here. Now I don't know if you have noticed, but last month the Sunday Times UK's Best Big Company to Work For survey gave Boots Opticians the coveted No. 1 spot. So Boots is clearly demonstrating their ability to satisfy and motivate their permanent workers and teams. If they can transfer some of this magic to their locum staff, then that can only be a good thing.It's when you look closer at the proposed arrangements that you begin to see how the company is thinking.For a start they have made it clear that they will regularly inform locums of work opportunities in advance of their recruitment agencies. Favouritism with a purpose I would say, as this will potentially allow professional locums to exercise far greater choice over their next assignment, and better still, have more control over locations as well.It is this balance of control and flexibility that I can see as having a great appeal, for the simple reason that it will allow locums to have far greater control over their own diaries, which is in itself a motivating factor.Boots say that they will continue to offer flexibility in terms of their working contracts, with selected "regular" locums able to reach agreement on preferential fixed term arrangements. The company also says it is keen to develop the franchise side of their business, and of course some locums are ideally placed to take advantage of these opportunities.So you can start to see why this may not be as straightforward a decision as first impressions may suggest. It seems that Boots is committed to forging stronger ties with their locums, to achieve efficiencies and also enhance their service delivery to the end customer, the high-street consumer.It sounds like this change in policy could be very beneficial for both Boots and the locums they work with. It will be very interesting to see how these relationships develop, and the effect they will have on the whole business.