The MJ Achievement Awards 2007
Pay & Workforce
Achievement of the Year
Engaging with employees for business and cultural change
Over the last four years the Council has transformed from an underachieving Council to a
strongly improving (rated 4*) organisation now with an overall 3* CPA rating (November
2005). We were the only Metropolitan Council to achieve a 4 star rating for improvement,
warranting a feature case study in the Audit Commission CPA report for 2005. During
2005/06, some 80% of our key performance indicators have either been maintained or
improved, with over a third in the top quartile.
In the 2006 CPA Corporate Assessment, the Council received a 4* assessment for
Performance Management, recognising the Council’s structured approach to the
engagement of employees in service planning and delivery.
The Council has continued to transform its services, including in 2006:
• The creation of a Children and Young People’s Service (CYPS)
• The challenge of closure and development of new sport and leisure facilities
• The transfer of employees from across the Council to customer contact centres
• Implementation of revised pay structures
The level of organisational change required to bring about this transformation had the
potential, like any change agenda, to disenfranchise and de-motivate employees.
The project embedded the desired culture (our HEART Employee Commitments) and has
given employees a voice in shaping the Council and provided them with the tools to improve
service delivery (Exchange).
Employee perception, measured (since 2002) by the employee opinion survey and
Investors in People has shown a continuous upward trend (10 percentage points) with
most marked improvements shown in communications, recognition, awareness of fit within
the organisation, management of performance and motivation.
Excellent organisations put their workforce at the heart of what they do. The Rotherham
Metropolitan Borough Council (RMBC) Corporate Workforce Strategy defines leadership
beyond the development of elected members/senior managers, setting a priority for all
employees to be able to be leaders of the organisation.
The employee engagement project fits within the leadership theme of the service plan for
• To engage employees in organisational development by developing/revising and re-
launching initiatives that gives them the opportunity to put forward ideas/suggestions
• To demonstrate that views/opinions of employees are listened to and acted upon.
• To make sure employees receive feedback on their ideas/suggestions.
• By 2008 ensure that 85% of employees are aware of the employee suggestion
• To raise awareness of HEART and measure its impact/validity.
Commitment from the top
Our Corporate Management Team (CMT) and Leader are committed to listening and
responding to employees. In 2005 they agreed to bring together all our employee
engagement mechanisms under one meaningful and recognisable brand name, ‘Exchange’
to further raise the profile of employee engagement. This brand includes the revised
employee suggestion scheme, employee opinion survey, focus groups, the worker
representative groups and a unique initiative called ‘Reach-In’.
Our Council Leader chairs the employee suggestion scheme panel. The panel which
includes Elected Members, union representatives and employee representatives meet
monthly to consider all the suggestions, make a decision on their implementation and if an
award should be made. The panel also agree the quarterly/annual winners for the best
suggestion, which are recognised formally at council meetings.
Elected Members show their commitment to employee feedback by participating in their own
survey and comparing their results with employee perceptions.
The council appointed an HR Officer responsible for employee involvement. The project
involved working with a number of individuals/teams from across the council, including:
• Directorate consultation co-ordinators
• Directorate communications champions
• Employee suggestion scheme panel
• ‘Reach-In’ sub group including:
Corporate Internal Communications Officer
Corporate External Consultation Officer
SNAP (survey analysis tool) expert/directorate representative
Trainee HR Officer
Previously we introduced new methods of communication (council-wide newsletter-‘Unite’,
briefing sheets, corporate management team summaries-‘ComMenT’ and verbal briefing
sessions for third tier managers), to cascade messages to managers/employees and enable
involvement of employees and the sharing of ideas.
The HEART values emerged from a cultural survey and consultation with employees. In 2004
they were incorporated within new employee competencies which are assessed as part of
the performance and development review process (PDR).
We engaged employees in the new Council Priority Themes, by using ‘real’ employees in the
Reach-In was launched. This is a panel of 300 employees taking part in consultation on
issues associated with employee experiences and the services provided by RMBC. ‘Reach-In’
uses consultation questionnaires (electronic/paper-based) and focus groups.
Reach-In/focus groups have provided information on the awareness/understanding of Corporate
Plan priorities and how the HEART commitments have become embedded in the organisation. It
also allowed us to look at the awareness and understanding of the HR Service Centre, CYPS,
and Flexible working.
Exchange News, published twice during 2006, updates employees on findings from their
feed-back and what we’re doing in response.
During 2006 we held 15 Exchange focus groups. Topics included; IT training strategy, internal
communication, customer contact centres and results from Reach-In.
The employee suggestion scheme has been updated based on employee feedback and re-
launched. The panel awarded the first quarterly awards to employees. These were recognised
formally at full council meeting.
The first Exchange Employee Opinion Survey (issued to all employees) ran during 2006.
We delivered against a publicity plan for HEART, including articles in Unite, payslip adverts,
posters and merchandise. Monthly Team/Employee HEART awards were given.
Team/Employee/Manager of the Year awards were given.
With 13,500 employees (not all co-located and not all on-line) reaching/encouraging them to
participate in the initiatives was a potential barrier. We used an integrated
marketing/publicity approach. Including:
• Developing the Exchange brand linking the employee experience with the “excellence”
• Unite –corporate internal newsletter.
• Departmental newsletters.
• Team/manager briefing documents.
• Team meeting visits.
• Drop-in events.
• Specialist events – E.g. International Women's Day/Health Fair.
• Merchandise – stress balls/pens/drinks mats/puzzle trays.
Project Date Line–2006
January First ‘Reach-In’ survey.
First Employee Suggestion Scheme quarterly awards.
HEART annual publicity plan approved.
First Exchange focus group.
February Exchange intranet site launched.
March First ‘Reach-In’ report.
Agreed focus group topics/‘Reach-In’ dates for next financial year.
April Employee Suggestion Scheme quarterly awards.
Rotherham priority themes campaign launched.
May Focus groups.
June First Exchange News.
2006 Employee opinion survey.
2006 Elected Members survey.
July ‘Reach-In’ 2.
Employee Suggestion Scheme quarterly awards.
September Employee Suggestion Scheme quarterly awards.
CMT Report on findings from 2006 Exchange Employee Opinion Survey,
including key targets and activity/changes to corporate workforce strategy.
October Reach-In 2 report.
Employee Suggestion Scheme quarterly winners.
November Employee Opinion Survey supplement, distributed with Unite
Elected Member survey results to Member Development
December Exchange News (Winter).
HEART Employee/Team/Manager annual awards.
Employee Suggestion Scheme annual awards.
Bi-monthly Unite featuring articles on HEART/suggestion scheme winners
and results from Reach-In/employee opinion survey.
The Exchange project is ongoing. During 2007 we will:
Map ‘Reach-In’ results with community consultation.
Develop employee engagement profiles across the council.
• Revised/re-launched our employee suggestion scheme based on employee
feedback. Received 372 suggestions, compared with 200 in the four years the
previous scheme was operating.
• 67 awards made for successful employee suggestions.
• 300 employees on ‘Reach-In’ panel. Panel is representative of the workforce in terms
• First ‘Reach-In’ survey had a response rate of 67% and Reach-In 2 was 61.5%.
• Actions in response to ‘Reach-In’ are integrated into our corporate workforce strategy
for performance management.
• Programme for focus groups delivered.
• First re-branded Exchange employee opinion survey.
• Key messages/progress from feedback now promoted to employees by:
• The worker representative groups championed issues. E.g. the Black and Minority
Ethnic (BME) group were involved in mentoring 11 positive action trainees from
Rotherham’s BME communities.
• Elected Members survey (response 54%).
• HEART publicity plan achieved (monitored in Reach-In).
The 2006 employee opinion survey showed improvements in employee perceptions of
communication, including across teams/services and understanding of individual’s
contribution to corporate priorities.
In the 2006 internal review process for Investors in People, Internal Assessors noted a
clear improvement in employee perception of how they are involved/engaged. They said;
Paul Cosgrove, “Managers explained how the council has a formal suggestion
scheme. The Head of Service referred to the Exchange initiatives. Managers
explained how they felt that a culture now existed, and was encouraged, whereby
staff were able to put forward ideas with confidence at team meetings… there is
now a management attitude of encouraging contributions from staff.”
Marie Swallow, “There is clear evidence of a culture of continuous improvement
where employees can share their ideas for improvement.”
Since 2002 employee satisfaction has increased by 10% points.
Employee opinion survey results 2006
Question/Statement % positive Variance
2006 from 2002
If I want to put forward new ideas or suggestions
for improvement, I know how to do so. 68 +31
I am confident my ideas or suggestions will be 42 +23
I am confident I would get feedback on my ideas 42 +23
I am aware of the Council’s employee suggestion 72 +25
Moyra Mitchell, Secretary, Environmental Development Services said of Reach-In “The
scheme means that staff, even those who are not on it, know their views are valued. It is
good to feel you are having an input into the direction of the Council”.
Paula Grainger, Regional Skills and Capacity Adviser, Improvement and
Development Agency said “Rotherham have demonstrated terrific enthusiasm and
commitment and have used innovative ways to change cultural attitudes and behaviour
within the organisation and make staff feel valued”.
The Culture and Leisure Inspector said “Improvement action plans, with objectives and
measures, are incorporated into service plans and team plans. This means that
individuals within the service know what is expected of them, and how their work
contributes to overall aims”.
Our CPA score has improved to a 3* (from 1* and 2*). The only Metropolitan Borough
Council classed as improving strongly.
Our CPA Corporate Assessment report 2006 indicates the progress made in engagement
“The ‘golden thread’ continues into performance development reviews for
teams and individuals”, “innovation, flexibility, ownership and diversity are
encouraged”. The Council received a 4* assessment for Performance
“Service improvement is supported by stakeholder involvement. The Council's
Reach- In and Reach-Out surveys are used to consult on satisfaction rates and
Overall, we have seen service inspection improvements, partly influenced by this greater
awareness of employees. E.g.
Our IiP review (2006) for CYPS states “Given the scale of change being
experienced by this Directorate, the evidence produced was very positive and
indicates improvements in the Directorate in terms of keeping employees
updated on the change agenda (Every Child Matters), involvement in planning,
effectiveness of managers and recognition of employees”.
RMBC has maintained its customer satisfaction levels, whilst nationally councils are
experiencing dramatic drops (10%) in customer satisfaction.
Value for Money
£1.28 per employee was spent on the project. This is clearly good value for money as a
better quality of service was provided within the same budget. Employee suggestions
improving customer service include:
A contact number on ID badges so the public can verify the authenticity of the
employee. Important for officers visiting the elderly/vulnerable and meeting our
‘Rotherham Safe’ priority.
High seating in Social Services public areas – many clients have difficulty getting
in/out of a chair.
Suggestions that made efficiency savings include:
A change to the process/materials used for road markings.
An inventory of council equipment that other departments can use, saving
additional hire charges.
The Culture and Leisure Inspector said “The Council has a well-developed approach to
securing value for money, and can demonstrate reducing costs and increasing efficiency in
Employee Turnover reduced from 18% (2005) to 8.7% (2006).
Sickness absence has reduced by 4.6 days between 2003 and 2006, currently standing at
9.2 days, representing efficiency savings of:
2007 (based on current performance) £3.0M
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