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Agenda item

Annual Workforce Development Strategy Review 2020/21

To consider progress made against delivery of the Workforce Development Strategy during 2020/21 and the actions planned for 2021/22. 

Minutes:

29.1          The report of the Head of Corporate Services, circulated at Pages No. 113-130, set out the progress made against delivery of the Workforce Development Strategy during 2020/21 and the actions planned for 2021/22.  Members were asked to consider the report.

29.2          The HR and OD Manager reminded Members that the Workforce Development Strategy was a five year strategy which covered the period 2019-24. The strategy was accompanied by a five year action plan and the progress made during 2020/21 was presented alongside the key performance measures at Appendix 2 to the report with the proposed action plan for 2021/22 set out at Appendix 1.  During the year, a lot of services had adapted their focus in order to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and Appendix 3 showed the organisational health and wellbeing support for employees which had a specific focus on COVID-19.  The HR and OD Team had been responsive to the needs of the Council and its employees with the development and adjustment of policies, new training and new welfare support alongside the normal workload.

29.3          A Member drew attention to Page No. 127 of the report, specifically the performance measure in relation to the gender pay gap, and he asked what plans were in place to reduce the gender pay gap to zero and how many years that would take.  In response, the HR and OD Manager explained that, whilst it was a useful metric, it must be taken in context.  Small organisations such as Tewkesbury Borough Council tended to have fewer “big money” posts so any changes to those positions had a significant impact on the overall figures.  Notwithstanding this, it had been identified that those occupying the top positions in the authority tended to be men with a greater number of women in the lower tiers and that skewed the results.  In order to try to address this, it was necessary to make clear that careers at lower levels were an option for men and to support female staff wanting to progress; staff were supported with a management development programme and the South West Councils coaching networks were also being utilised.  It was noted that this figure would be different in 2021/22 as the Deputy Chief Executive had left the authority and his post had subsequently been deleted. 

29.4          A Member went on to draw attention to Page No. 121 of the report which talked about performance management and he questioned whether a performance management structure was in place.  The HR and OD Manager confirmed there was an existing policy around managing poor performance, known as the capability process, and it was intended to re-look at that to make it slicker and more effective. The Member noted there had been a significant reduction in average sickness rates to 9.7 days per employee compared to 12.4 days per employee in 2019/20 which he assumed did not include absences due to COVID-19.  In response, Members were advised that these figures did include COVID-19 absences and an extra way to measure this had been included in the system to enable reporting.  The HR and OD Manager pointed out that a decision had been taken to discount absences as a result of staff having a reaction to their COVID-19 vaccinations for the purposes of absence management so this did not deter people from getting vaccinated.  Staff were able to work in an agile way so, although some had been self-isolating at various times, they were largely able to continue to work from home which was a real strength of the organisation.  A Member questioned how it would work going forward if there was a move towards hybrid working, for instance, would staff be expected to work set days from the office and from home and would there be flexibility to change that if they were unwell, or they had to care for a child that was unwell.  The HR and OD Manager advised that one factor which had contributed to the reduction in sickness absence was that staff had not been mixing as much, therefore had not been spreading germs around, with measures such as masks and hand sanitiser reducing transmission even further.  It was hoped a sensible approach would continue as 95% of staff were able to work in an agile way; however, it would be up to individual managers to decide if and when staff needed to be in the office.

29.5          A Member drew attention to Page No. 119 which stated that the ‘ATS and website refresh’ work would be complete in July 2021 and he questioned whether that had been achieved.  He also pointed out there were a number of acronyms within the documentation and he asked for clarification on what ATS stood for.  In response, the HR and OD Manager confirmed that the new website for recruitment had gone live on 5 July 2021 which presented the Council in a much more attractive way than before.  The website was linked to an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) which enabled applications to be digital.  In terms of the ambitions around training, the Member questioned whether consideration had been given to using gap analysis software.  The HR and OD Manager advised that it was very early days for the training analysis; however, the team was developing a matrix which would identify essential qualifications for posts which was not currently available - once that had been done, the team would look at a system for training.  At the moment, a lot of this was manual and labour intensive which made it very difficult to report and create a gap analysis but some initial scoping conversations had taken place with other local authorities so collaboration may be possible.  The Head of Corporate Services reiterated the good work that had been done in terms of creating the recruitment microsite which had involved a fantastic effort from the team to get that in place.  This meant that all recruitment would be automated, both at the front end and behind the scenes, and a Member Update would be circulated shortly with a link to the site.

29.6           With regard to Appendix 3 to the report, which set out the standard health and wellbeing offer for staff and the additional support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a Member questioned whether there was any way of monitoring its effectiveness.  In response, the HR and OD Manager confirmed that a wide range of things were being done including a quarterly health check which asked staff whether they had the right things they needed to be able to carry out their job safely and questions about their mental health around work.  There was also an opportunity for staff to leave a comment which the HR and OD Team would pick up and feedback to Heads of Service etc.

29.7           It was

RESOLVED          That the progress made against delivery of the Workforce Development Strategy during 2020/21 and the actions planned for 2021/22 be NOTED.

Supporting documents: