Hello everybody – it’s lovely to see so many people here today.
So this is a research project that we’ve been working on since about March of this year.
We wanted to look at how, as councils have been changing over the last few years – becoming collaborators, and place leaders, commissioning councils, commercial councils and cooperative councils – what this would mean for the workforce.
We know that due to the funding cuts the workforce are being asked to deliver more with less and that that has caused considerable pressures, but more than this many of the changes take an entirely new approach to work, and draw on a new set of skills and competencies. This was highlighted in the 21st century public servant research by the University of Birmingham last year.
At the same time, as the work gets much more demanding, and more is being asked of the council workforce - the advantages of working for local government are also less clear. Job security, pensions, and structural change has eroded the ‘promotion ladder’.
As councils face an uncertain future, its more important than ever that they have a workforce that fits their changing needs and that current and future employees feel motivated, productive and flourish.
So in this report we have explored ways that councils can engage its current and future workforce to make sure they are ready to take on the tomorrow’s challenges of tomorrow.
We will outline how we see the ‘new deal’ that councils can offer the workforce.
We look at how in the long term the working culture in councils will need to change and recruitment and development strategies that councils can take for their current workforce and future workforce
We had fantastic engagement across the workforce with over 2,500 responses from local government officers to our survey. We also surveyed senior HR officers from 113 councils across England.
We interviewed a range of local government stakeholders in depth and held 2 roundtables in London and Manchester.
Our ideas for change are derived from the literature on international examples of workforce reform, as well as the 3 pioneering councils featured as case studies.
Before we could understand how to build a new deal for the workforce we wanted to know what motivates someone to work in local government. Why does someone choose to work in a council?
There are both intrinsic and extrinsic/tangible rewards of local government work. Public service ethos, an intrinsic motivation based around the job itself. was the most common motivation across the local government workforce. In open ended responses, people expanded on this and said they liked being able to serve their community, make a difference, and improve the place where they live. This was highly relevant for officers with decades of experience and also those who had only joined in the last few years.
There are also extrinsic/fiscal rewards of local government. Work-life balance came second overall and a person joining the local government in recent years also tends to prioritise work-life balance.
Both of these benefits – work life balance, extrinsic and PSE, intrinsic – offer good grounding for a new deal. They address what millennial employees want from their jobs according to wider research.
There are some extrinsic rewards that have changed. You’ll see on the chart that the pension scheme and job security have been pretty big draws of a local government career. But as Claire discussed, these are not as strong as they once were and councils are unlikely to be in a position to address this in the near future. Job security was also less relevant to newer workforce members.
So this shows the need to find alternative benefits; perhaps looking at the job itself and drawing on that intrinsic motivation to make a difference,
LT So public service ethos is a big motivation. People are drawn to local government because they want to make a difference.
But once someone starts to work in a council, they often find themselves frustrated by bureaucracy and hierarchy- unable to improve things, make a difference, or innovate. In open ended responses to our survey, people detailed their frustrations with hierarchical procedures, managers being promoted based on longevity, and inability to innovate or make a difference.
This points to the need for long term cultural change. A cultural shift towards self-management and lack of hierarchy could result in an empowered, courageous and creative workforce that is just what councils need to cope with very new challenges.
So how can councils do this? A shift towards self-management where junior staff are given lots more autonomy. This would encourage people to take initiative and feel more engaged, motivated and empowered. Examples of workforce reform from around the world show it’s possible to create a much less hierarchical working culture resulting in happier employees who thrive and develop. In the report we profile Buurztorg, the Dutch nursing organisation – which is made up of teams of nurses who make decisions collectively, from caseload, training needs, to office space and schedule planning. Changes to the organisational structure can help achieve this – for example open-plan offices for everyone, including and especially the chief executive and senior management team. Councils such as St Albans – who we will hear from soon – are already doing this, with open offices where both councillors and officers can move freely on all floors. Models of leadership that are inspiring and enabling, not micro-managing. Our research found that leadership qualities are increasingly important – as much as technical knowledge. It’s important that this happens at every level not just at the very top – so frontline staff are engaged in the wider organisational values. Engage councillors on this issue and ensure they are part of driving forward changes- many will be natural supporters of reform as they already recognise the need for something different. A councillor we spoke to pointed out that elected members want officers who are ‘risk takers and innovators’, so they need to need to model that themselves.
Leadership in local government will need to model, embody and drive forward change- so now we’ll hear a bit more from Jody at GS about what kind of leadership local government needs.
So Lucy and Jody have both outlined the need for a change in the working culture of councils over the longterm but we also wanted to look at what councils can do maybe more immediately to ensure that councils can recruit a workforce with the skillset they need and retain and support the current.
In terms of recruitment HR director told us that the greatest barrier to recruiting talent is the negative perception of local government (65.9 per cent, HR director respondents).
And it’s fair to say that local government gets a bad (and rather unfair) press.
Here’s just a small snapshot of the sort of headlines that are common to see..
Daily Mail Former employee When it was suggested that he work for the council, he protested that it would be full of jobsworths, skivers and crawlers. The 1960s and 1970s were the halcyon days of local government when rules and regulations multiplied at the expense of common sense and no-one was entirely sure what the person in the next office actually did … or even what purpose their own job served. And finally, we have the negative press that just slowly creeps into the mainstream media. My personal favourite at the moment is Eastenders who seem to have a rather bizarre ongoing storyline about the collection of bins, which mean that we have regular interjections into each story line such as ….
So local government has an image problem. It’s not seen as a place for entrepreneurial, dynamic or ambitious employees. And while that description was probably never fair, it is particularly unfair for today’s workforce as they innovate their way through the funding cuts, trying to ensure that services go on as normal
So in the research we looked at ways that the council can open up and become more outward facing.
Let the public see how hard the workforce are working and what is going on behind the scenes.
And this means making both the building and the people more open.
You can see a picture of Wiltshire Council there, that’s the entrance to the council that like Brent have also included a library in their offices, or Wiltshire have located a museum in the council offices, meaning that people go in there for something fun, not just to pay bills or resolve problems
Online tools such as staff blogs and social media are also being used to promote the ‘human face’ of the council and they can help counter some of the stereotypes of anonymous ‘pencil pushers’.
Allowing employees to tweet about their job (under their real names)
Perhaps Wiltshire Council’s boldest marketing move was the decision to partner with Glassdoor.the website where employees and former employees anonymously review companies and their management. As the first local authority to do so, the council was taking a considerable risk in platforming the feedback of its workforce, yet this risk paid off and is a very effective part of the council’s brand. Its Glassdoor page includes a range of positive feedback, with an average rating of 4.6 stars out of 5. The council takes the time to provide a substantial response to all feedback.
As well as opening up the councils it’s also important to highlight the benefits and how local government can differ from other sectors when putting together a recruitment strategy…
Highlight the advantages, public service ethos and work life balance – promoting this in the recruitment strategy
These two benefits will particularly speak to the new generation of recruits, the millennials.
Globally, 56 percent of Millennials have “ruled out ever working for a particular organization because of its values or standard of conduct.” The strong public service ethos and serving the community that you can get from working for a local authority should be stressed during the recruitment process
Flexible working hours and work -life balance is also important. For newer members of the workforce it was the most common motivation (49.9 per cent) although it is important across the board. Globally, millennials want a job which offers them work-life balance.28 Companies like Facebook29 and Patagonia30 recognise that supporting employees’ lives outside work will make them happier and more productive inside work. New recruits we interviewed told us they appreciated that the council saw them as a “person not just a worker”.
LT Any workforce strategy must of course start with the existing workforce. They need nurturing!
Our survey confirmed what you all will already know; it’s tough to work in local government today in an environment of rapid change. 86% of survey respondents said they need to do more with less. A typical council employee can expect a higher workload and reduced resources. He or she will also face new and different demands- to collaborate with citizens, to use technology to support service delivery, or to work across traditional boundaries.
People don’t always feel supported to cope with the pace of this change. But some councils are taking effective approaches to staff development and retention so this employee of today is well equipped to deal with the demands of tomorrow.
1. In Wigan, they are changing their approach to performance management. The new approach to one-to-ones, called 'My Time' sessions, cover a broader range of issues than traditionally covered. Managers check on things like staff wellbeing and what someone is struggling with. It is crucial that managers understand that staff wellbeing will affect performance.
2. And whilst training is difficult on constrained budgets, it is also is more important than ever and can be done in a way that represents value for money. Again in Wigan, the council runs an interactive experience ‘BeWigan’ to bring the council’s strategy to life. It’s aimed at all staff and delivered in house. The experience is ‘walk through’ and includes audio, games and a pledge room.
3. A bright spark who joins local government might leave for the higher salaries and glamour of other sectors if she feels frustrated and unsatisfied. To retain talented staff, some councils are providing development opportunities that stretch their abilities and help create the leaders of tomorrow. In St Albans, participants on the future leader programme get a chance to do a 20 day secondment in a job they don’t usually do.
So Claire’s now going to reiterate our final recommendations.
CM to summarise recommendations These are some of our most important recommendations….
PPMA Annual Seminar 2017 - Current Research Initiatives
PPMA Annual Conference 2017
Current Research Initiatives
Barry Pirie, PPMA, Director of People and Business,
Mike Burton, Editorial Director, The MJ
Share with you outputs from key pieces of research:
Outside the Box – Council Workforce of Tomorrow
Walk Tall – 21st Century Public Servant
Eduserv – What does Digital mean for HR?
Proposed research for 2017/18
Why does research matter?
Types of research
Commitments to our sponsors
Your feedback and input and Next steps
THE BOXThe Council Workforce of Tomorrow
WORKFORCE REFORM: WHY
NOW? As councils transform, the
workforce will need to too
Greater demand on the
workforce skillset and
How can councils recruit and
retain the workforce they need?
Three case studies
WHY WORK IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT?
LOCAL GOVERNMENT WORKFORCE SURVEY QUESTION, 2,526 RESPONSES (TOP 3 REASONS)
CHANGING THE COUNCIL’S WORKING CULTURE
A self-managing working culture
Leaders, not managers
Councillors have a crucial role
RECRUITMENT: COUNTERING NEGATIVE PERCEPTIONS
“We battle with the perception that
people who work here are only
waiting for their pensions.”
RECRUITMENT: HIGHLIGHT THE BENEFITS
Public Service Ethos
“I want to be able to see
something and say ‘I did that, I
helped achieve that’ to my
mum and dad.”
Work Life Balance
STAFF DEVELOPMENT AND RETENTION
What about the existing workforce?
New approaches to:
SUMMARY OF OUR KEY RECOMMENDATIONS
Councils should implement workforce strategies that
increase autonomy and reduce hierarchy
Councils should become much more outward-facing to
counter negative perceptions of working for a council.
Going forward we need leadership not management
IFS research into impact of business
• The MJ is one of the supporters of the 3-year
• biggest shake up in local government finance
since the poll tax
• big questions over robustness of business rate
MJ 125th anniversary 2018
• Anniversary copy
• De Montfort students researching back issues
• various regional events
• HealthMJ (health and care integration)
• Inward Investment Guide (econ development)
• Public Property (revenue generating issues)
• Various Council Focus’s
• LGA: 20th anniversary supplement
Continued ongoing PPMA led and/or supported research is key
All research informs practice. Our participation, although taking time,
The workforce agenda as a whole and specific issues are given a national profile
Workforce issues are understood and our practice informed by evidence
We can learn and share together and generate interest and momentum in what we
We can focus policy makers on the issues that really matter BUT also highlight
where there are inter-relationships between policy and legislation
Research programmes raise our profile and delivers value to our
profession and our employers and sponsors
Proposed research for 2017/18
…..why does research matter?
For 2017 the programme will include:
Research papers produce in partnership with our sponsors and membership
community (e.g., Eduserv, Walk Tall, Outside the Box – NLGN, LGA, Gatenby
Advertorials on key issues prepared by our sponsors as seen through their
Thought leadership pieces prepared by PPMA membership community only
(e.g., A Brexit whitepaper for the Public Sector Show, June 2017
Proposed research for 2017/18 (2)
…..what will our programme include?
We are committed to the following:
4 Comprehensive PPMA Supplements over 2017, Regular HR Updates in The
MJ, Weekly Recruitment & Retention articles, Comprehensive Senior
Recruitment ads every week in your MJ Magazine
Digital HR programme with Eduserv
Co-creation of 3 to 4 thought leadership pieces with Green Park
One research paper with JGP
Production of newsletter articles with Matrix-SCM
One research paper and co-creation of 4 editorials with Neyber
4 editorials, quarterly supplement and thought pieces with Penna
Thought leadership pieces with Veredus
Proposed research for 2017/18 (2)
…..what will our programme include?
For this to be a meaningful programme we need your
What are the key topics or issues that would be
informed by our research programme
Working together please note down your top 5
Your feedback and input
We will collate all of your feedback and contact you if we have any
We will produce and share a research plan for 2017/18 after
Next steps and questions