To consider the outcome of an employee survey that followed on from the 2020 employee wellbeing survey.
Joanne Budden the Service Manager (People, Culture & Wellbeing) introduce the report. She noted during the past year, officers had not only provided business as usual in support of our residents but assisted with other essential work on Project Shield and Highstreet recovery projects. They had completed an office refurbishment on time and on budget, improved productivity, and digitalisation for our residents, and had vastly improved employee engagement and wellbeing.
Through the pandemic many of the employees had been working remotely - no longer reliant on a fixed desk, in a fixed building, working fixed hours.
In April 2021 an employee survey was designed, this followed on from the 2020 employee wellbeing survey. This new survey was called ‘Our Ways of Working 2021-2022 Beyond the Pandemic’. When completing this survey, employees were encouraged to challenge their thinking, giving them the opportunity to give valuable feedback and insight to help inform plans for beyond the pandemic and help reshape the Council’s future ways of working for them and the organisation.
Part two of the survey was a selection of 8 travel questions. A short video was played, outlining the results of the survey. *A copy of this presentation as a PDF, is attached to these minutes for information.
Councillor H Kane thanked J Budden for the presentation saying it was good to know how people felt. She then asked about the Council’s out of hours service, had this not been included in the survey asking how people felt about it. She added that to the best of her knowledge, we had about three weeks without an out of hours service. J Budden said that she would investigate.
Councillor Sunger noted that the last 18 months had been difficult and challenging and thanked the staff for continuing to provide vital front line services. He was also proud that we had now trained more than 80 mental health first aiders which provided important support for the staff.
Councillor Lion said it was an interesting presentation. He asked about people working from their dining room tables how many of them would not be happy working from home. There were also other aspects of remote working, not only could people work from home or the Civic Offices, but we did have other hubs that they could use, as working from home could be very isolating. He was told that the survey covered this as it did not reference just a single site. Councillor Lion asked if people were keen to do this. He was told that as a new way of working, people would get used to this way.
Councillor Neville noted that the presentation went by too fast for them to take it all in. He asked if it actually went out to 438 people or was that just people who viewed the survey. J Budden replied that 438 employees viewed the survey, 356 started doing the survey and 292 had completed it.
He then asked how many people took up the free DRT87 transport service offer. He was told that the officer did not have that figure with her. The Chairman asked how many people would this offer affect as it only covered a specific travel corridor. J Budden said that she would have to get back to him on this as that information sat with the travel plan.
Councillor Matthews asked if the data was also collected on the age range of the responders – if people said they were happy to work from home what age range would that cover. He was told that information formed part of the survey.
Councillor H Kane asked that the presentation be sent to the Members of the committee. She then asked what would happen to this data; what would it help you to do in the future. She was told that the presentation would be sent out to councillors and that the presentation was just the top level of the data they had; there was a lot of detailed data that they had to go through and that would go to inform the people strategy and their future plans. Councillor H Kane asked if there was a timetable on what would happen next and if so, could the Committee have a report on this. She was told that officers would provide updates on this as they moved forward and evolved a strategy.
Councillor Bhanot asked what safeguards or checks were done to see what the cross section of staff was who were completing this survey; what safeguards were there to avoid duplication of the survey by the same individuals; and if 80.02% completed the survey how did that correlate to the number of staff. He was told that it went out to roughly 508 people but the survey was anonymous so we used an outside company and an employee could only complete the survey once.
Councillor Morgan asked if the officer had any data on how many staff had left over the last two years and were we up to full quota for officers now. He was told that the current turnover was 3.3%. we had lost 103 members of staff in 2018/19, and 109 in 2019/20; and this year we have so far lost 117 but 79 of these were included TUPE transfers. So, its been quite level over the past few years. The Chairman did not think that the percentage figures added up to the actual figures just given.
Councillor Janet Whitehouse asked if feedback was given to the staff who said they had problems and what was the gender balance compared to the whole council as it was 68% female and 28% male who answered the survey. She was told that the council’s balance at present was 37% male and 63% female. We were evolving our wellbeing support all the time, we do a lot of employee wellbeing sessions, virtual coffee sessions, exercise classes and generally have lots of support for our employees.
A Small noted that because of the pandemic the move to homeworking had happened overnight. The survey was to take a temperature check on how the workforce felt about it. This had also happened to a large section of the country at the same time. A lot of staff do not want to come back to the offices. However, it provides challenges such as keeping people in contact and informed. This was something that we would continue to do and will continue to provide feedback to this committee. As for the DRT route that was selected; a large proportion of the workforce lived on this route. Also mentioned was the mental health training and if it could be opened up to members – this will have to be looked into, as members were not employees. But we would like to if we could.
Councillor Lion asked about staff retention, did they record staff retention by length of service? He then asked if we had a defibrillator on site? And did we have any information on home broadband services and how officers were finding their access to our corporate services at home. He was told that broadband services were part of the survey; yes, we did have a defibrillator on site and yes, they did have the figures on staff retention broken down into service areas.
The Chairman said that it would be helpful to know where the defibrillator was located.
Councillor S Kane said that it occurred to him that if we had conducted this survey in February 2020, just before Covid, we would have got very different results. We were just considering the change in office use, but then Covid hit and we had to accelerate everything by five years, and now we have people saying how nice it is working like this. Given that, was there any intention to repeat this survey in six months’ time to see how people were settling into the hybrid way of working as opposed to just homeworking. J Budden noted that they carried out surveys all the time; but as for a bespoke survey, they would do another one in 6 months’ time.
Councillor Sunger urged members to take the tour around the Civic Offices, they had provided a lot of technology for the staff and also working areas and non-working areas, all to support the staff. There was also the Perkbox platform and he urged members to look into that. If you kept staff happy, happy staff makes for a happy employer.
Councillor Matthews noted that the survey had engaged about half of the staff and asked if there were any plans to engage the other half to get a fuller picture. He was told that the survey was voluntary and not mandatory so you would need a mandatory element to entice everyone to complete the survey, but you would get a lower engagement. So, we try to make it voluntary and hoped the figures would increase in time.
*Attached is also a short workforce data sheet for information.
The Committee considered and noted the report and the accompanying video.