The Committee received a presentation on the current position with the workforce strategy.
The Committee were advised that the following areas are going well:
· The Pay Award has been agreed for green and red book colleagues
· The Workforce Strategy has been developed into a three year plan
· Union and Council relations are very good
· Some work is progressing to improve the employee experience and positively impact on recruitment and retention
The Council does still face some challenges:
· The percentage staff turnover was 12.74% in 2021/22 and whilst lower than the national average and lower than the average for public sector (15.6%) it sill impacts on service delivery, moral and so on.
· Sickness absence per FTE has increased slightly
· We have an ageing workforce
· The conflict between budget and the aspiration to address recruitment and retention.
Progress has been made in the following areas:
· The workforce strategy has been transformed into a 3 year deliverable plan
· An employee survey provider has been identified and will progress subject to budget review
· A new occupational health system design is underway with implementation and launch in the first quarter of 2023
· Exit interviews and why stay have been re-designed in a more friendly tone with an online version to be launched in January 2023
· A new employee benefits system has been identified, contact to be agreed for launch in first quarter of 2023.
· Health and Safety culture trial in ways of working has begun in construction services
· New policy and procedure layout under design to be more modern and keeping it simple
· New job description layout designed
· Training for line managers on people management underway
· Corporate induction is being redesigned/modernised/refreshed
· Membership of LA’s recruitment and retention improvement group
· Learning management system has been launched
It was queried whether we are setting the bar too high in relation to attracting apprentices and them having to have a minimum level of qualifications. It was noted that with regards to some apprentice roles there is a need to have a minimum qualification due to the nature of the programme which will be undertaken with the college. It was noted that we are looking at work placements and working with the Learning Skills Team to encourage those who want a career but would not necessarily be about their academic ability.
The overall development of the plan was welcomed it was however queried whether having interviews with people about why they stay would be time consuming and worth the investment. It was noted that if we have good managers people want to stay we need to know if we have poor managers.
It was noted that the emphasis on succession planning was welcomed as there has been a gap for years. It was noted that we have group directors who have worked there way up from the tools we need to show that this is an organisation where people can start to work their way up.
It was noted that the impact of Covid has been mentioned and a lot of people are signing up to agencies – is that because people find it easier to apply or is it the flexibility and easier to go through the interview process. It was noted that sometimes with agency workers it is about the lifestyle as they have the flexibility. Also we are looking to shift the arena to CVs, it shouldn’t be difficult to apply for jobs. Currently for entry level jobs there is 4 pages of job description.
It is hoped that in 6months there will be some good news stories.
It was queried how many people have reduced hours and are still here. It was noted that we have acknowledged smarter working and people have had to live their lives differently but we also have to meet customer demand and have to be responsive – we are asking the workforce how would they like to work differently. We are actively asking people to come forward with ideas to make services better for the communities we serve.
It was noted that at one time Gateshead was a place where people would fight for a position here. The problem is where there is no career progression Local Authorities are stuffy and old fashioned and it is easier to get rid of someone with skills to make it convenient for managers, do people understand career pathways when they enter the organisation and where the opportunities are for progression.
It was noted that there is lots of opportunity it is about how we sell ourselves as an organisation, we need to start telling the story.
It was noted that some kids are dyslexic or have other issues how do we legislate to make sure we are not excluding them.
It was requested that all HR staff and managers are made aware that veterans are now entitled to an interview for any job they apply for.
It was suggested that HR look at the work of Project Choice in terms of children and young people with disabilities including ADHD and Autism, it was also suggested that we contact Ross Lynott he runs Recite Me and has software which makes text into more accessible formats.
It was queried whether it was possible to find out whether the stress is work related or personal. It was noted that sometimes it is often started off with something personal then something can happen at work which brings everything to a head. We can help people.
It was queried about whether we have details of how diverse our workforce is. We never seem to attract anyone from the Jewish community, we don’t seem to have a diverse workforce, it seems to have slipped down under the radar. It was noted that it is still on the agenda it is about the capacity of teams.
It was noted that the plan may take longer to achieve due to the challenging budgets. We have to design, deliver and embed and that takes time.
RESOLVED - That the comments of the Committee be noted in relation to the progress on the Workforce Strategy.