Local government employers know that only a properly motivated, skilled and rewarded workforce can deliver the best possible services to communities across Scotland. Local government needs to make the best use of its resources and that depends on competing for and securing the right people in the right jobs at the right time, with the right skills– and at an affordable cost.
Effective people are at the heart of excellence public services and our award winners have all delivered leading-edge projects where innovative ideas and practical solutions are helping their organisation rise to the challenge of securing a workforce for the future. Their work includes attracting and retaining high calibre employees, building capacity through greater flexibility and productivity, developing effective partnerships, and developing workforce planning arrangements.
Renfrewshire Council – iLearn Learning Management System
The iLearn project has involved the design, procurement and implementation of a combined e-learning, policy management and communication Learning Management System (LMS). We are the first, and we believe the only, local authority in Scotland to use one integrated system to provide:
• a range and depth of online development opportunities for all employees at a time and place which suits both individual and organisational needs;
• 360 degree assessment for all managers;
• a means to assess understanding of key policy issues; and
• a means for continual and two-way communication with employees.
Since the systems launch just over two years ago we now have been more than 35,000 accesses, with over 17,000 online e-learning modules completed. This system has helped avoid more than 300 weeks of development time and reduced delivery time by as much as 66% against a traditional classroom based delivery approach, resulting in efficiencies of at least £500,000.
Dumfries and Galloway Council – MA Plus Programme
Dumfries and Galloway Council has a vision to make Dumfries and Galloway the best place in Scotland to live, learn, work, visit and grow and our priorities include “preparing our young people for adulthood and employment and that we will support and stimulate our local economy”. Within our Workforce Strategy, we also state that we will “support and work with other agencies and employers to ensure the future workforce in Dumfries and Galloway is given the opportunities to develop skills to successfully compete for jobs and contribute to the future prosperity of the area”.
West Lothian Council – West Lothian Council Leadership Programme
The central focus of the council’s leadership and management development strategy is ‘Building capacity to deliver better outcomes’. This programme has been designed to advance that goal by building capacity through equipping managers with the tools to engage employees, customers, and partners to deliver excellent high quality services in extremely challenging economic times against a conflicting background of increasing need and constrained resource.
Fife Council – ToK Apprentice – and Enterprising Approach
Through a highly innovative project Caskieberran Primary School built on an existing partnership with Lomond Group, established a new partnership with another Fife company, Tree of Knowledge, and created links with other businesses. As one of the directors of the company, Dougie Clark, was delighted to note, after beginning the process in two secondary schools, we were the first school in Scotland to successfully pilot and complete ‘ToK Apprentice’ which involved organising and running a corporate event. Pupils were required to go through a formal application process to secure a role within the company. Visitors from local businesses were invited to provide an insight into these roles. The event was held at Balbirnie House Hotel and responses from the delegates were all positive.
Argyll and Bute Council – Direct Reporting of Absence
Argyll & Bute Council have reduced absence costs and introduced more effective council wide absence monitoring after an initiative was set up in 2011 to promote a new way of reporting sickness absence for all employees. The ‘Absence Line’ was set up for employees to call and report sickness absence to one ‘golden’ telephone number for their absence to be recorded by HR/Payroll through scripted operators who notify managers by email (and in some cases text message) instantaneously. With a single link between the employee contacting the council regarding his/her absence and a single member of staff inputting the information direct from the phone to the master HR & Payroll system there is reduced probability for errors of translation or omission. Previously information may be noted down and transmitted several times or have not been recorded. The project aimed to get more accurate absence figures, offer a consistent message & service to all employees and through the golden number HR/Payroll operators could offer advice on health services available to employees (such as the Employee Counselling Service and Physiotherapy services available). The project also set up substantially better absence reports for managers and ensured trigger reports for the newly updated absence policy provided consistency and was fairly applied (previously not all employee absence was recorded).
North Ayrshire Council – Streetscene Operational Review
Streetscene brought together Grounds Maintenance, Street Cleansing and Cemeteries staff to provide a new integrated service.
Streetscene was formed by working with staff and Trade Unions to make savings of 20 per cent – £1.75 million – while delivering an improved and more flexible service.
This workforce modernisation programme has brought new role profiles, a wider skill base, changed cultures and attitudes and maintained service standards to the public.
Ensuring the workforce was engaged, focused and motivated to deliver an excellent service to the public following the review was achieved through employee involvement, increasing training opportunities, communicating, career development and maintaining open channels with the Trade Unions.
The changes have resulted in increased levels of public satisfaction, a reduction in absence rates by more than a third and a reduction in employee grievances. In addition the Council has been recognised that this approach is good practice and won the Workforce Transformation category in the 2012 Municipal Journal Local Government Awards.
The City of Edinburgh Council – Workstyle Frontier Project
As councils struggle with reduced budgets and increased workloads the City of Edinburgh Council’s Management Team (CMT) introduced a Workstyle Frontier Project in 2009 and Revenues and Benefits were selected to pilot the project. As this was expected to be an inexpensive way to increase productivity and reduce sickness absence the Department accepted the challenge to introduced home working.
The first phase of the home working pilot started in early 2010 with 12 fully generic Revenue and Benefit processing officers (RBO) and 2 first line managers, a set up at that mirrored the office based processing teams at that time.
Home working was introduced over an 8 week rollout period. The rollout allowed the managers to bench mark productivity and sickness absence levels prior to during and after the rollout. During the 8 week rollout the productivity of the home working team increased by around 40% and sickness levels reduced by 100%. Although productivity continues to be 20% more than that of office based staff the sickness levels of home workers has increased slightly but is still below the divisional average of 2.26%.
The success of the first phase of the pilot let to the rollout of home working for a further 2 Council Tax and Benefit processing teams in 2011 who are now working from home on a full time basis. A further 126 staff in 11 of the service areas will commence a rollout to home working over the next 18 months. The success of the home working pilot within Revenues and Benefits has led to flexible working options being considered across all appropriate Council buildings.