A further update to the People Strategy was requested at the last Overview and Scrutiny meeting on 19 November 2020 – please see attached report.
This update outlined the work being delivered under two workstreams – attracting, on boarding and retaining the best talent, and creating a culture of engagement wellbeing. The People Team were delivering new automated recruitment processes through iRecruit to recruit, attract and induct candidates, and help retain officer talent. The new careers landing page called “A Place of Opportunity” had been well received by hiring managers. There were various benefits to iRecruit, which included applicants using a CV and supporting statement rather than a lengthy application form.
The report concentrated on employee engagement in response to a question from Councillor S Murray at the Committee’s meeting last November. The Service Director (Corporate Services), P Maginnis, reported that 87 per cent of the Council had signed up to the Perkbox initiative. Total savings of £5,000 on shopping discounts had been made by those staff. The Insight engagement platform had been developed by Perkbox and the People Team for employees to receive and answer questionnaires. To date 400 responses have been made by staff comprising nearly 250 feedback comments. The main themes of the initial surveys were on the lack of (internal) communication; little visibility of senior leaders and new policies to support home working to aid home life balance. All feedback was anonymous and had been presented to employees in January 2021. The Recognition platform launched on 1 December 2020 and let staff nominate others as super stars. Lastly, mental health first aiders numbered 63, which had exceeded a 1:10 ratio target of trained employees.
Councillor M Sartin asked if the Council was having difficulty in attracting and retaining staff. The Service Director (Corporate Services) replied that the turnover was fairly stable. The People Strategy was still ongoing so hopefully this would reduce, but new blood and some turnover was healthy to bring in new ideas. There were some difficulties recruiting specialist staff. The Council was trying to grow its own, as it had a successful apprenticeship scheme and some higher apprentices, but planners were being recruited differently.
Councillor R Baldwin was pleased to see the Council had moved away from using long application forms to recruit by CVs. In relation to EVP (employee value proposition) what kind of values were expected and how were skills evaluated? The Service Director (Corporate Services) replied that the EVP was how the Council attracted people through skills and the recruitment process and test their values and behaviours. These were put on the role profile. It was not just about knowledge and skills, but how candidates did it.
Councillor D Wixley was disappointed over the use of the word on boarding and that it would be better if language was used that everyone understood. Councillor M Sartin replied that the different wording and language were the way HR worked but they were talking to a wider audience. The Service Director (Corporate Services) noted this but on boarding was certainly becoming a more used term in recruitment.
Councillor J H Whitehouse was impressed by the support offered to HR in mental health and would like to take up the invite on a session about Perkbox. She was impressed with the staff induction process but was concerned how staff learnt about the Council and how its decisions were made. There was nothing about scrutiny, which was not adequate, and proposed that four members should discuss this with the People and Democratic Services Teams. Councillor M Sartin was concerned by the staff joining who had not worked for a council before, but this issue could be looked at another time.
Councillor S Murray said language use did matter. Also, councillors could benefit from messages in the report on working collaboratively. He was impressed by the health and wellbeing risk assessment and the high number of staff mental health first aiders and would like information on this training. The Service Director (Corporate Services) offered to provide this for the minutes.
Councillor M Sartin advised members that future reports would be going to Stronger Council Select Committee but any specific business that required a broader audience could come back to Overview and Scrutiny.
(1) That the Committee reviewed the progress of the work being delivered; and
(2) That that details of the mental health training would be provided in the minutes.
(Post meeting update: Mental health first aid training:
A classroom run MHFA First Aider course would be two days but virtually this is over 4 days, this online course qualifies a Mental Health First Aider, giving:
· An in-depth understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing
· Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues
· Confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress
· Enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening
· Knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to further support - whether that’s self-help resources, through their employer, the NHS, or a mix
· This is an online course delivered through the MHFA England Online Learning Hub
· Learning takes place through four live training sessions, spread across one/two weeks, with self-learning activities in between.
· Each session is built around a Mental Health First Aid action plan
· We limit numbers to 12 people per course so that the instructor can keep people safe and supported while they learn
Everyone who completes the course gets:
· A certificate of attendance to say they are a Mental Health First Aider
· A manual to refer to whenever they need it
· A quick reference card for the Mental Health First Aid action plan
· A workbook including a helpful toolkit to support their own mental health)