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Gosport Borough Council

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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People Management Strategy

INTRODUCTION

 

The Council's first People Management Strategy was produced in 2001, and this was reviewed and updated in 2003 and 2004 as part of a review of current influences, trends for the future, and to ensure that people management policies and practices remain fully aligned to the corporate needs of the Council.  The document was further updated in 2008 to incorporate changes in the workforce profile and statistics, and the consequent need for review.

The purpose of the strategy is to identify the key issues which the Council will address in managing its staff in order to achieve its mission and goals.  It is recognised that staff are the Council’s key asset in working with the community to improve everyone’s quality of life, establishing a sustainable future for the Borough.

To achieve its mission, the Council provides a wide range of services underpinned by values of participation, performance, partnership, people and political processes.

Areas identified as needing action in order to achieve the Council’s aims for the future are covered in relevant action plans related to both this document and the Council’s Workforce Development Plan.  Actions are regularly reviewed and updated in order to ensure that they remain necessary and relevant to the aims of the Council, incorporating changes as they occur.

It is through the staff employed by the Council, working with Elected Members,  that the mission and aims can be achieved, and this strategy sets out the way staff will be treated, managed and developed to achieve the Council’s aims and objectives.

We strive to ensure that the right people with the right knowledge, skills and behaviours are employed, and that those people are:

  • motivated and committed
  • proud of the Council and the Borough
  • responsive to customers’ needs
  • accessible and open
  • flexible
  • professional and properly trained.


The Council is sensitive to the concerns of staff, and works with them and their Trade Union representatives to ensure fair and equal treatment for all, taking steps to promote their health, safety and well-being.

CURRENT WORKFORCE AND INFLUENCES

The Council employs approximately 330 staff, involved in both front-line and support services.  Staff numbers have decreased in recent years, most significantly in consequence of the reduction in grant from the Government which resulted in the need for reorganisation and redundancies.

The organisation structure is kept under review with changes made as and when necessary to ensure that it provides the most effective structure to achieve the Council’s objectives.   Following two Chief Officer retirements, recruitment at this important level has been undertaken, in consequence of which the structure at Management Team level has been reviewed and revised from August 2012.  The revised structure is detailed below.

The Head of the Council’s Paid Staff is the Chief Executive, who directly manages a number of functions: corporate policy and performance, economic prosperity, community safety, IT, personnel and press and public relations. 

The Chief Executive is supported by the Deputy Chief Executive and Borough Solicitor,  who manages Legal, Democratic and Planning Services (Legal,  Land Charges, Electoral Registration Services, Democratic Services, Conservation and Design, Planning Policy, Development Control, Transport and Traffic and Building Control) and is the Council’s Monitoring Officer.

There are three other Chief Officers currently, with one vacant post from August.  These Officers, together with the Chief Executive and Deputy Chief Executive, form the Council’s corporate management team, managing the following functions:
Housing (incorporating operational, technical, strategic, housing options and financial services)
Financial Services (council tax, housing benefits, accountancy, pay and central services, internal audit) managed by the Borough Treasurer who is also the Section 151 Officer
Community and Customer Services (Customer Services/administration, Environmental Health, Corporate Asset Management, Streetscene, Mayoral support).

WORKFORCE STATISTICS

The workforce is composed of approximately 68% female and 32% male staff, with approximately a third (mostly female) working part-time on varying work patterns.  This pattern has remained fairly static since 2008.

Length of service ranges from newly appointed staff through to a few individuals with significant service of 30+ years.  Whilst a number of longer serving employees have left the Council in the last two years, we still retain a good balance of experience and new ideas.

The age profile shows 5% aged under 24,  17% between 25 and 34, 58% between 35 and 54, 19% from 55 to 64, and 1% aged over 65.  The profile does show an increase in younger employees and a decrease at the top end, where staff have left in consequence of the recent reorganisation with the ability to take their pension.  Trainee posts have been used for many years in order to assist with succession planning, which is being developed to ensure that there are no major problems in covering key posts.  An apprenticeship programme is currently under development.

Turnover increased significantly in 2010/11 to 16% in consequence of the necessary reorganisation, then reduced slightly to 13.4% in 2011/12 reflecting slightly fewer redundancies.   Turnover of staff leaving voluntarily is fairly steady, and is not excessive.  Reasons for turnover are monitored so that any patterns or problems can be identified.  Comparisons are also made with national turnover rates for both local government, and the private sector, to ensure that the Council is not “out of step” with the general situation. 

FLEXIBILITY – The Council promotes job share opportunities wherever possible and offers flexible working hours to the majority of its staff.  We are very conscious of the need to maintain a healthy work/life balance for the benefit of both our staff and the organisation, and actively seek ways to ensure that such a balance can be maintained.  For example, the right to request to work more flexibly has been applied to all staff for many years, as a result of which there have been a number of requests for a variety of reasons and from staff at all levels across the organisation, of both genders, although predominantly female.  It has been possible to come to an agreement in the majority of cases.

PERSONNEL SERVICE – The Personnel Section consists of three professionally qualified staff (one initially employed as a Trainee, who has since completed training with the Council) and a part-time Administrator.  The Team provide advice and support on all areas of employment, and carry out a central monitoring role to ensure the corporate application of the Council’s employment policies and procedures, and fair and equitable treatment of all staff.  The Section is responsible for keeping up to date with employment legislation and case law, including the influence of European Directives, so that the Council is aware of and in compliance with the law affecting the employment of staff.  Performance indicators are available and kept under review to ensure that the service is effective and relevant.

LOCATION – Gosport is located on a peninsula, and therefore experiences traffic build-up at peak times.  The Council actively promotes the use of alternatives to cars, and means of reducing the problem.  Cycle loans and loans for public transport are available for staff, who can also purchase an annual car park ticket at a reasonable rate with the ability to pay monthly through salary.  Concessionary travel rates with a local bus company are available for staff.

AREA STATISTICS – Unemployment in Gosport is at 3%, compared with 3.3% for Portsmouth,  2.5% for South-East England, and 4.6% nationally.  The proportion of the population from non-white ethnic groups is estimated at 4.3%, which compares with 9.3% for the South East and 12.5% for the whole of England. 

TRAINING/SKILLS – The area is very well served by educational establishments, having a number of further education colleges and the University of Portsmouth with its School of Management close by.  Skills shortages are experienced from time to time in a few specialist areas of work, but recruitment generally is not difficult.  Where there have been problems, or difficulties are envisaged, e.g. Environmental Health, Building Control, Internal Audit, steps have been taken to resolve the situation in partnership with other authorities.

SERVICE REVIEW – The Council achieved a “good” rating in Comprehensive Performance Assessment, and is constantly seeking to improve.  Performance monitoring systems have been developed and refined to assist in checking on performance and taking improvement action where necessary.

PARTNERSHIPS – We continue to investigate and develop partnership arrangements where there is demonstrable benefit to the Council, and have introduced several such arrangements: the Building Control service and Environmental Health service is provided on a partnership basis for Fareham and Gosport Councils; we are one of a number of Councils who have joined together to provide a training and development scheme for trainee Environmental Health Officers; we have been working in partnership with Eastleigh for a number of years for the provision of internal audit services, and we work with other authorities on Coastal services.  We have also joined with 11 other authorities in Hampshire in a Regional Recruitment Portal, which has proved very successful in attracting a wide range of applicants and in reducing recruitment costs.   Service reviews continue on a rolling programme, so that the Council can ensure that it is providing the service needed in the most effective way and for the best possible value.

CONTINUING DEVELOPMENT OF IT – The Council continually reviews and develops services to ensure it is making the best use of all means of communication and information technology.    There is a central contact centre for members of the public,  and Members of the Council have laptop computers which can be connected to the corporate network from their homes.   Training is provided in-house, and continues, to ensure that both staff and Members can gain maximum benefit from available resources.  The need to continually ensure adequate training of  our own specialist staff is recognised, and both training and support are provided in-house, together with the use of external courses where necessary.

TRADE UNIONS – Approximately 75% of the staff employed by the Council are members of UNISON, which is formally recognised for negotiating purposes.   The Council values collective bargaining and has entered into a consultation agreement with UNISON;  both Managers and the Personnel Team liaise with the Union on a regular basis.  The Council’s Local Joint Staff Committee plays a vital role in ensuring communication between Members of the Council and Trade Union representatives.  This body reports to the Council’s Policy and Organisation Board.

EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY – As an employer the Council recognises the absolute importance of equality and the value of diversity; the concept of fair and equal treatment is reflected throughout the policies adopted and the practices that flow therefrom.  We recognise the desirability of having a workforce reflecting the make-up of the population of the Borough, and value the differences, but ensure that there is no discrimination at any stage of the employment process.  The need for positive action is regularly reviewed, with regular training and advice being provided for staff through e-learning to ensure that all have full awareness and commitment.  The Council is committed to its Equality Scheme and regularly assesses the impact of major policies, procedures and practices.  We collect and review employment statistics regularly in order to assist in identifying any necessary actions.

RESPONSIBILITY FOR PEOPLE MANAGEMENT – Whilst the role of the specialist Personnel Team is an important one in developing and monitoring the application of appropriate policies and practices, each manager takes responsibility for people management, with the help and assistance of their colleagues in Personnel. 

Members of the Council

Our Elected Members are working for the benefit of the community.  They determine the Council’s policies, shaping services to meet the needs of Gosport citizens.  Members and Officers have regular informal contact, as well as the more formal Board and Scrutiny meetings.

Training is provided for Members of the Council, both as induction to the Council, and where needs are identified by or for them, for example, chairmanship, equality and diversity, job evaluation, IT.  Training needs are identified through Group Leaders, and a Member Training Booklet is provided to both inform Members of different areas of the Council’s work and to assist them in identifying appropriate training opportunities.

Members recognise and value the work performed by the Council's staff, and protocols have been developed to facilitate relationships between Members and staff. 

Management

The importance of effective leadership and management is fully recognised.  Managers are provided with induction in staffing issues, backed up by training both internally and externally in the necessary skills, and advice and guidance on the application of the Council’s personnel policies.  Policies are available for all staff to view on the Council’s Infonet site, and personnel staff provide on the spot assistance as it is needed.

Detailed guidance notes have been prepared to ensure that all those managing staff are fully aware of their responsibilities, and annual meetings are held with all people managers to highlight issues of importance.

Management competencies have been developed for managerial posts of all levels.  The review process is used to identify management and leadership development needs as part of the performance review, and the most effective way of meeting them.

PRIORITIES AND ACTIONS


1. Communication

Effective communication is vital to the success of all areas of people management.  The significant use of information technology for communication purposes is recognised and encouraged.  The Council has a Website and an intranet site, the latter used to provide a range of information for staff.  The majority of staff have access to a PC, and support is provided by the IT Section to assist them in gaining maximum benefit from information technology, and by corporate support staff in ensuring that training needs are met.   At the same time, it is recognised that other forms of communication remain very important, including face to face meetings between staff and their managers.

We:


  • promote effective communication from the top down and across the organisation;
  • review and take action to improve the communication skills of all managers and staff;
  • ensure confidentiality where sensitive information is involved;
  • clearly define roles and responsibilities by issuing clear job descriptions and keeping them up to date, discussing and making changes as necessary;
  • carry out meaningful consultation with staff representatives.


We do this by a number of different means:

  • using a comprehensive induction procedure which is kept under review, so that it provides a full introduction to the work of the Council and its policies and procedures, but also covers staff transferring, and returning from lengthy absence;
  • identifying needs and providing development  in communication skills where necessary;
  • using regular team meetings, inter-departmental meetings and staff meetings as necessary;
  • continuing to develop and promote the use of IT to aid communication;
  • producing job descriptions and keeping them updated;
  • ensuring timely and effective communication and consultation with UNISON.


This year we will introduce a facility whereby staff can access leave, flexitime and pay slips electronically, thus improving efficiency and providing a more accessible service.

2. Structure

It is important to keep the organisational structure under review to ensure that the efficient delivery of services and effective management of the organisation as a whole is maintained. 

We recognise that the structure should enable the organisation to provide quality services, delivering what is needed both now and for the future but identifying efficiency savings wherever possible.  To this end, increased participation in partnership arrangements is continually reviewed and used as appropriate.

We monitor the relationships between Members and staff, support and front-line services, internal and external services, neighbouring authorities, bodies and organisations, in order to ensure that the structure is meeting the needs of the organisation.

We:


  • keep under review the structure of the organisation as a whole, and within each Unit, and institute changes where these are required;
  • investigate any areas of concern and take appropriate action;
  • fully review every vacancy as it arises to ensure that it is filled only where necessary, and in the most appropriate way;
  • create a range of learning and development opportunities to ensure that staff are equipped for their duties and responsibilities as they change and develop, and to assist with succession planning.


3. Recruitment, Selection and Retention

Our Recruitment and Selection Code of Practice is kept under review and updated as necessary  to ensure consistent and fair practice, and compliance with the law, in this important area.  Recruitment and selection procedures are kept constantly under review, and monitored for effectiveness and fairness in ensuring that appointments are made on merit.  The Council continues to work with 11 other Hampshire Authorities in a Regional Recruitment Portal where applicants can view and apply electronically for vacancies in each Authority.

Retention of staff is equally important.  Whilst turnover has increased in the past two years because of the need for redundancies, voluntary leaver numbers are relatively stable.  Turnover is, however, kept under review, and reasons for leaving monitored so that any necessary actions can be identified.

Opportunities for flexibility are given full consideration and afforded wherever possible, with consideration being given to changes in hours of work or additional flexibility where this is practicable, for example for maternity returners, employees with family commitments or those nearing retirement. Flexible retirement provisions are also utilised.  Training and development opportunities are provided to ensure that staff are able to carry out their duties, and that their personal development continues.

Flexible benefits, and different ways of working (e.g. homeworking) are areas being kept under consideration.

We:


  • make appointments on merit;
  • use fair and consistent practices in recruitment and selection;
  • provide an informative and useful induction to the organisation, and to different jobs;
  • provide conditions of service which are fair to all;
  • provide flexibility for staff wherever possible, ensuring flexibility for the organisation, so that the needs of both are met;
  • ensure staff are empowered to do their jobs and feel valued.


This is achieved by a number of different actions:

  • using application forms to seek relevant information only, preserving confidentiality of personal information whilst the shortlisting process is being conducted;
  • providing a detailed job description and person specification for each job;
  • assessing candidates having regard to their ability to do the job, as evidenced in their application form, their performance in any tests, and at interview, and via references;
  • monitoring the use of the induction procedure, making improvements as and when necessary;
  • monitoring the application of both national and local agreements for consistency and fairness;
  • keeping updated the Recruitment and Selection Code of Practice;
  • ensuring staff carrying out interviews are adequately trained;
  • providing flexible working and job share opportunities wherever possible and appropriate for both individuals and the organisation.


4. Workforce Planning, Training and Development

We recognise the importance of ensuring that we have the right staff with the skills and abilities needed to fulfil the Council’s aims and objectives.   For this purpose, we ensure that staff are properly equipped to undertake the tasks required of them, particularly in an ever-changing environment, and promote a learning culture to achieve this. 

Our Learning and Development Policy is kept under review and revised as necessary, and our Workforce Development Plan is also reviewed and revised to ensure that appropriate action continues to be taken to equip the Council with the right people in the right places to achieve its objectives.  The Plan identifies priorities, which are also used in the review of this strategy.

We remain fully committed to maintaining an appropriately skilled and motivated workforce.  Our Corporate Learning and Development Group incorporates representatives from each department and maintains an overview of learning and development across the organisation.

We continue to look for ways of maintaining a fully representative age profile, recognising the contribution to be made by all age groups.

The number of female staff in senior positions is increasing; overall there are more women than men employed in the organisation.  The number of staff from ethnic minorities in senior positions is low, but recruitment and selection practices ensure that there is no discrimination in the way decisions are made.  Learning and development opportunities are available to all staff to better equip them for different and more senior roles, as appropriate.

We:


  • recruit and retain the best possible staff;
  • train and develop staff to their maximum potential to meet the organisation’s needs and at the same time provide personal fulfilment;
  • ensure that those wishing to retire from the Council’s service are adequately prepared.


Actions helping us to achieve this are:

  • keeping under review our recruitment and selection processes and using objective means, such as ability testing, where possible to add to the process;
  • monitoring recruitment actions for fairness;
  • ensuring that there is adequate financial provision for training and development including identifying the most appropriate and cost effective means of provision;
  • reviewing staff training needs constantly, and formally at least six monthly;
  • providing training courses and activities in-house and externally to meet the needs identified;
  • ensuring that information is shared across the organisation and between sections via feedback from training sessions, and meetings;
  • evaluating and, where necessary, modifying training provided;
  • corporately monitoring training provision;
  • providing and promoting pre-retirement training for those who would benefit from it.


5. Performance Management

We are conscious of the importance of properly managing performance, and ensure that this is carried out effectively.

We:


  • review the performance of all staff on a regular six-monthly basis;
  • ensure that absence management procedures are kept under review and applied fairly and consistently;
  • ensure that unacceptable performance is dealt with promptly, fairly and consistently;
  • develop means of rewarding performance;
  • use a range of performance indicators to assist in the monitoring and management of performance across the Council.


Relevant actions include:

  • monitoring the effectiveness of the Personal Review Scheme and revising it as necessary to maintain its relevance;
  • monitoring the application of the absence management procedure and revising it where necessary;
  • ensuring that managers have adequate information to effectively monitor performance and absence;
  • monitoring the use of dispute resolution procedures for effectiveness and fairness;
  • considering and reviewing the use of honoraria/merit increments, and any  other means of rewarding exceptional performance;
  • ensuring that managers are properly trained in the application of the Council’s procedures;
  • developing relevant performance indicators to monitor progress and performance.


6. Terms and Conditions of Employment

The terms and conditions of employment are at the heart of the employment contract and therefore the relationship between the Council and its staff.  They are an important part of ensuring that we are able to recruit and retain the right people.

We adopt nationally negotiated conditions of service, supplemented by local conditions, and ensure that these are reviewed and updated as necessary, and that staff are aware of them.  Local agreements are kept under review to ensure that they are effective, reasonable and meeting the needs of the organisation.

We:


  • ensure that our terms and conditions of service enable the Council to attract and retain good quality staff;
  • ensure the fair application of conditions across the organisation.


We do this by:

  • making national and local agreements available on Infonet for all staff to view:
  • monitoring the application of terms and conditions across the organisation;
  • keeping conditions of service under review, consulting and negotiating where there is a need to consider revision of local agreements
  • maintaining contact with other councils in the region and sharing information.


7.    Resources and Reward Systems

It must be accepted that resources are limited, and the Council must manage its staff within the budgets available.

Job evaluation was introduced in 2000 in order to ensure that there is an objective and fair means of grading the posts within the Council’s establishment; the application of the Scheme is carefully monitored for fairness and consistency.

It is recognised that there could be instances where recruitment is difficult because of market forces.  In such cases, a full investigation would be carried out so that the appropriate action could be identified; for example, this was the reason for the introduction of the cross-Authority Environmental Health trainee scheme.  The Council has not needed to consider market forces supplements to date.

The pay structure is kept under review and consists of a combination of single point salaries, where the nature of the job is such that it can be carried out with very little training or further acquisition of knowledge, mainly 4-point grades where knowledge and experience enhance performance, and some linked grades where the post requires a steeper learning curve and additional duties and/or responsibilities are added at a later stage, e.g. formally recognised trainee posts.

An equal pay audit was completed in 2007 and in 2011/12.  These audits are used to review all benefits applied to Council staff, and to consider their fair and consistent application on the basis of gender, ethnicity, and age.

We:


  • provide a fair and equitable grading structure;
  • provide a pay system which responds to the needs of the Council and ensures the recruitment and retention of suitable staff;
  • use a formally agreed job evaluation scheme to evaluate all jobs;
  • use merit increments and honoraria to reward exceptional performance.


Actions taken include:

  • keeping the grading structure under review;
  • reviewing any possible need for supplements;
  • re-evaluating posts where duties and responsibilities have significantly changed;
  • monitoring the application of the job evaluation scheme;
  • corporate overview and monitoring of the application of merit increments and honoraria.


Early retirement, ill-health retirement and redundancy – The cost of such actions is recognised.  Early retirement is normally used only where it is clearly in the interests of the efficiency of the service and appropriate savings can be achieved.  Ill-health retirement and redundancy only take place where all reasonable alternatives have been exhausted.

We:   


  • use early retirement provisions only where these are in the best interests of both the individual and the Council, and where there is no suitable alternative;
  • ensure that all alternatives to ill-health retirement or redundancy are fully investigated before taking any such action;
  • have a policy providing for consideration of enhancements to service where there is no alternative to the employee leaving.


8. Equality of Opportunity and Diversity

Equality of opportunity underlies all the Council’s employment policies, and this area is kept constantly under review.  The Council’s policies are reviewed regularly, and updated where necessary.  Discrimination, harassment or victimisation is not tolerated.

The Council values diversity in its workforce,  that is the visible and non-visible differences including gender, age, background, race, disability, personality and work style.   We also recognise the importance of having a workforce which reflects the local community and which is balanced with levels of experience and knowledge, emphasises individual potential, and encourages all to achieve, being driven by the needs of the organisation. 

Training and advice are regularly provided for all staff to raise their awareness of equal opportunity and diversity issues.  Information is readily available on Infonet on translation and other facilities.  Equality schemes and action plans covering every Service Unit are regularly reviewed and updated; impact assessments are conducted on a regular basis.  The induction procedure includes discussion of the equal opportunity policies to ensure that new staff are fully aware of these, and all staff receive regular training in this important area, with developments being covered through refresher training on a regular basis.

The Council’s Corporate Equality and Diversity Steering Group, which includes representation from every department, maintains an overview of equality and diversity issues across the organisation, both relating to employment and service delivery.

We have regard to continuing changes in legislation and case law in the area of equal opportunity, and ensure compliance with these.

We:


  • ensure equal opportunity for all in all areas of employment and service provision, with no discrimination, harassment or victimisation;
  • recognise the value of diversity in the workforce.


Actions are constantly reviewed to assist us in meeting our responsibilities including:

  • keeping the Council’s equal opportunity policies and practices under review and updated as necessary;
  • monitoring the composition of the workforce, all recruitment and selection activity, training activity, and all other areas of employment;
  • taking immediate action if a problem does arise to ensure that it is dealt with promptly, fairly and in a confidential manner;
  • producing and keeping up to date a Single Equality Scheme with appropriate actions to meet the Council’s duties;
  • providing training in the various aspects of equal opportunity and diversity;
  • keeping under review any need to take positive action should it be appropriate;
  • making reasonable adjustments in order to retain individuals in employment where there is a disability which requires them;
  • ensuring that applicants for employment can compete on an equal footing (e.g. by the use of an interpreter);
  • monitoring staff views through the annual staff survey.


9. Occupational Health and Safety

Health and safety management in Gosport is co-ordinated within the Environmental Health Service, where a professional Safety Officer is employed.  Safety Representatives appointed by UNISON work with their Managers, and a Safety Committee meets on a regular basis to consider general matters of health and safety.  The Personnel Section liaise with the specialist officers, and provide a service to managers and staff to assist with counselling, occupational health and medical referrals, utilising external specialist providers.

Training has been provided for both managers and staff on recognising and dealing with stress.  The personal review process and the staff survey are used to assist in the identification of any potential problems. 

The Council provides a healthy workplace, and has policies on Smoking, Stress at Work, Alcohol and Substance Abuse, and HIV/AIDS.

We:


  • provide a safe and healthy workplace for all staff;
  • provide counselling and/or mediation for those staff who need it;
  • raise awareness of stress and the means of reducing it.


Actions taken include:

  • conducting risk assessments for all types of work and specific activities;
  • keeping health and safety policies under review, and developing further policies where these are necessary;
  • continuing to provide counselling services, both informally in-house and formally with external providers;
  • monitoring the incidence of stress and the reasons for it, and taking appropriate action;
  • making reasonable adjustments where these are appropriate.


UPDATING

It is recognised that there is a need for this strategy to be kept under review and updated where appropriate.  The document is reviewed on a regular basis by the Head of Personnel, in conjunction with Council Management Team and following consultation with UNISON.

Necessary actions are continually reviewed and contained with the Personnel Section's Action Plans.