Putting personalisation into practice: work-focused interviews in Jobcentre Plus

The principle of personalisation is widespread across the UK's public sector, but precisely what this means is unclear. A number of theoretical typologies have been proposed but there has been little empirical study of how personalisation is translated into practice on the frontline. We address this gap through analysis of a unique dataset: over 200 audio and video recordings of work-focused interviews in Jobcentre Plus offices. Through detailed analysis of these recordings, we show that personalisation reflects two key dimensions: the substantive (what advisers do) and the procedural (how they do it). We illustrate these dimensions, showing how each represents a continuum, and propose a typology of personalisation in practice, reflecting how the dimensions interact. We conclude with some thoughts on the relevance of our findings for advisory practice in the future under the Coalition government's new Work Programme.