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Lifting the Lid on COVID-19 and workforce resilience – with APSE

Many APSE member councils, during the course of the on-going health pandemic, expressed concerns about the impact on the local government workforce well-being and the overall impact on resilience, both in terms of managers facing new challenges and increased demands, alongside the overall workforce, including frontline staff and ‘back-office’ unseen roles, as well as on managerial and political leadership teams and elected members dealing with new demands at a constituency level.

APSE conducted a short survey during late November / early December in an attempt to identify the reality for both frontline and support staff on their mental health and wellbeing as they have supported their local communities throughout the pandemic.

312 responses were received and the results show a somewhat bleak emerging picture of the impact on the local government workforce as the relentless challenge of dealing with this crisis and delivering core services to our most vulnerable members of our communities continues without respite.

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Lifting the Lid on COVID-19 and workforce resilience – with APSE

  1. 1. Be part of the conversation! Follow APSE on Twitter and LinkedIn @apseevents @apsenews @PPMA_HR @APSE - Association for Public Service Excellence @PPMA - Public Services People Managers Association
  2. 2. Joint online workshop on Workforce Resilience in Local Government Frontline Services Friday 15 January 12.00 – 1.00 PM APSE and PPMA
  3. 3. • Opening Remarks: - Leatham Green, Executive Director, PPMA • Findings of the APSE COVID-19 workforce resilience survey • Discussion forum – have your say! Today’s Agenda
  4. 4. Leatham Green, Executive Director, PPMA Opening Remarks
  5. 5. Mo Baines Head of Communication and Coordination, APSE Findings of the APSE research
  6. 6. • Why did we undertake the research? About the research
  7. 7. • 312 ( now 317 ) • Of which 6.5% described themselves as Head of Service / Senior Manager, 30.3% Managers 38.2% Supervisors / Frontline • We also received 19% of respondents from workforce members and 6% of responses from council leaders / cabinet members / local councillors (6%). Respondents
  8. 8. Working arrangements during COVID-19 • Near to 45% stated that they were home working • 35.6% said that they continued to work in an office / depot either all of the time (over 20.7%) or most of the time (14.8%) • 17.8% worked some of the time from their office or depot. • 53.4% of all respondents had presented during the pandemic at their office or depot or other allocated workplace to support ongoing service delivery There is no ‘new normal’ for many workers! Two-tier experience? Those who can work from home and those who cannot?
  9. 9. Working hours impact? • 69.8% reported that they had worked increased hours during the pandemic • 1 in 4 of all respondents reporting excessive working hours. • Less than 1% reported working less hours! This reflects increases in new work, to deal with the health pandemic, alongside the existing ‘day job’ Services continuing in the vast majority of areas, albeit with adaptations as to how the services are delivered.
  10. 10. Additional duties? • 30.8% had taken on additional duties acting as part of the emergency response team • 25% had also taken on additional duties or responsibilities who were not considered to be formally part of the emergency response. Collectively 55.5% of respondents had seen an increase in workload. • 13.6% stated they had taken on different job roles to help with the pandemic • 10% reported that they had taken on new duties but this had abated • Just 18.8% reported no impact. What does this tell us? Almost a universal impact on job roles - very few services or workers left entirely untouched by the pandemic.
  11. 11. How did respondents describe their own well-being? (Respondents were able to tick more than one option on this question) 52.43%, reported that whilst on some days they felt okay they also had bad days thinking about the stresses and strains of the pandemic on their work. 36.89% reported they were feeling mentally exhausted by the impact of the pandemic on their work. 22% also reported feeling physically exhausted by the pandemic. Less than 10% reported that they were working better (more focussed work for example). What this tells us? We have a problem! A range of comments here: ➢ Isolation from work colleagues ➢ Balancing home working with home schooling ➢ Lack of support from managers ➢ Lack of public appreciation
  12. 12. When asked about the health and well-being of colleagues or their staff? 84.8% reported concerns about the mental well-being of their directly managed workforce or colleagues 56.6% reporting that mental wellbeing amongst the workforce was at an all-time low 28.16% stated mental wellbeing was at a low point 28.16% reported concerns about physical wellbeing as well. Conversely 37.2% described physical well- being as generally okay What does this tell us? The comments suggest :- ➢ The impact is greater the longer the pandemic goes on ➢ Constant change is impacting ( regulations, new ways of working, adapting service delivery
  13. 13. Which best describes the current feelings or emotions of the workforce? • 62% of responses that there was a ‘general acceptance that the current ways of working are here to stay for the foreseeable future’ • 44.8% stating that ‘everyone is fed up and wants to move to a post- Covid environment’. • Just 12.9% reported they were still in ‘crisis response mode’ What the comments tell us – people are not desperate for a new normal but the old ‘normal’! Sentiments expressed were about ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ or ‘none of us expected it to last this long’
  14. 14. Sickness absence and COVID-19 • 51.1% reported that they had had a small number of Covid-related absences (at the start of the pandemic in March / April) • 10.49% reporting a large volume of self- isolation cases • 11.80% reported a surge in Covid-related absences with 5.57% reported a surge in non-Covid absences The general sentiments were ‘not as bad as it could have been’ and clarity on guidance helped them manage absences better. ‘Good weather in the summer may have helped’? But… will we see a surge during lockdown the sequel? Positives from this ? Public sector managers in local government have better managed the situation than other sectors.
  15. 15. What has the pandemic made you think about? • Near to 50% of all respondents reported that they do not feel the public understand the importance of the services • 34.1% feel undervalued • 37.7% said they felt proud to work in local government and (the pandemic response made them want to stay in public services). • But…a quarter of all respondents however said they would be minded to take early retirement or redundancy • 12.9% were rethinking their career choice, considering a move away from local government
  16. 16. ‘Reminded me of the importance of local government in a crisis in supporting and keeping local people safe!’ ‘I feel that the government do not appreciate the efforts that my colleagues and I have sustained to continue to deliver key services throughout the pandemic. #public sector pay freeze’ ‘A significant amount of attention is given to NHS and the Care Sector and those in Local Government providing essential frontline services are not recognised in the same way.’ • The #PublicSectorPayFreeze featured in numerous responses Strongest sentiments
  17. 17. What about morale? • 43% reported that morale was okay • 47.3% reported that morale was low • 9.8% of those respondents stating morale was extremely low. These figures correlate to the earlier questions when respondents were asked about mental wellbeing. They are also consistent with the sentiments coming through in responses when asked about feeling valued in the work and service provided.
  18. 18. • Are we doing enough as a sector to support the frontline? • Are we walking into a one tier solution for a multiple tier problem (blue collar / white collar/ age / home circumstances)? • Do we ‘defend’ our staff enough or ‘celebrate’ them enough? • What could or should we do differently? • How do we turnaround the mental health and morale issues filtering through the workforce? Key questions!
  19. 19. Back to Leatham! Any questions?
  20. 20.
  21. 21. Contact details Mo Baines, Head of Communication and Coordination Email: Association for Public Service Excellence 3rd floor, Trafford House, Chester Road, Old Trafford, Manchester M32 0RS. telephone: 0161 772 1810