(Service Director – Business Services) To consider the attached report.
The Chief Executive presented an update report on the progress with the People Strategy.
The Chief Executive reminded the Committee that an analysis of the Council’s staff structures by the Local Government Association had revealed a number of issues, including multiple layers of management, decision-making going up to the top of the organisation, and a Council working in silos. It was recommended that the Council should have a maximum of four layers of management: Strategic Directors (including the Chief Executive); Service Directors; Service Managers; and Team Managers. Recruitment to the three highest levels had been completed and recruitment was underway for the Team Manager roles. There had been a reduction of 53 management posts, resulting in a saving of £1.175million for the Council.
The Chief Executive stated that the next stage for the People Strategy would be the appointment to the staff roles. It was expected that the majority of staff would be directly assimilated into the new roles, although some staff would be assimilated on pay protection if their new role involved a drop in pay of one band, but a very small number of staff (less than 10) had been identified as potentially at risk as they were facing a salary drop of more than one band. A 30-day staff consultation exercise was currently being undertaken on the new structures, and all vacancies had been frozen to ensure that as many roles were available for existing staff as possible.
The Chief Executive concluded that the number of staff leavers had not increased substantially this year compared to last – 105 in 2019 against 94 in 2018 – although sickness had increased from 1902 days to 3025 days and there had also been an increase in non-work related stress and mental health issues such as anxiety. Establishment figures for the new structure showed a reduction of almost 67 staff; however, previous figures included a number of holiday season staff as full-time employees which made the establishment figures artificially high.
In response to queries from the Committee, the Chief Executive provided further explanation for the four layer management model being used, and the management of the risks involved in the two Strategic Director posts being fixed term, interim appointments. The Committee was reassured that the management structure was close to being fully recruited to, with ten posts remaining to be filled out of a total of 90. The Council was also looking to get a substantial proportion of the staffing roles assimilated to before the Christmas break. It was also explained that for the small number of staff where the role available for assimilation had a salary drop of one band, that their salary would be protected at their current level.
In response to further questions from the Committee, the Chief Executive stated that she did not have any information to hand about the number of high performing staff leaving the Council, and the Council would not necessarily have any statistics on this anyway, but Senior Officers would know anecdotally about this. The Chief Executive also agreed that it was important to have visible structure charts for the public in the near future, for which Councillor Knight requested that the names of the relevant Officers also be included.
Councillor Wixley enquired how many employees were affected by the increase in figures for staff sickness and stress, and how the figures for non-work related stress issues were calculated? The Chief Executive apologised for only having the figures in hours, and therefore could not answer as to how many staff were affected. The Service Director for Business Services added that staff sickness figures had been reported to Members on a regular basis until Members requested not to consider these figures anymore during the last cycle of meetings. The People Team worked closely with managers over long-term and frequent absence issues, and any analysis of sickness issues used the reasons provided on the medical certificates.
Councillor H Kane stated that the new Member Contact system was working well. The Chairman opined that members were keen to keep a watchful eye on the People Strategy and requested that a further progress report be made at the next meeting.
(1) That the current progress with the People Strategy be noted.