Stratford on Avon District Council. The Human Resources Strategy

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1 Stratford on Avon District Council The Human Resources Strategy Page 1 1

2 Purpose of The Human Resources (HR) Strategy The purpose of this document is to review the role and effectiveness of human resource management within Stratford on Avon District Council. Having reviewed this role, the document will then outline the main strategy for setting policies and work objectives for Personnel Services over the next three years to ensure that the Council s strategic key objectives are met. Executive Summary The draft HR strategy has been produced following consultation with Councillors, Directors, Heads of Service, Staff and UNISON. The document is divided into the following sections:- i) the role of the Human Resources function ii) a future strategy for Human Resources at Stratford on Avon District Council for 2003/2006 iii) a Resources and Performance Statement iv) Appendix 1 Action Plan The year 2001 saw significant changes within Stratford on Avon District Council with the introduction of a new management and political structure. These changes were taking place against a backdrop of increased legislation from Europe affecting employment practices; a drive by the government to address the Work Life balance of staff; a requirement to increase the use of technology in the provision and delivery of services and a move towards improving the level of performance management in line with Best Value legislation. Additional budgetary pressures within the Council necessitated a review of the Authority s organisational staffing structure and a new approach to the management of service functions. The Council s staffing structure was therefore reviewed in 2001 and it is in the context of the resultant staffing levels and structure changes that this strategy is being produced. The Future Management of Stratford on Avon District Council paper approved in 2002 identifies 3 key issues facing the Authority at that time; those of capacity, confidence and creativity. These issues are still relevant. It is apparent that agreed strategic objectives will affect the focus of the work undertaken within this Council, but that if additional work priorities are set then resources will need to be diverted from one service area to another or, other work priorities dropped, or additional resources provided. Full account has been taken within this strategy of major initiatives such as CPA, community leadership and joint working arrangements in order to achieve the Council s vision of being excellent and providing good value for money. This means that the aims and objectives of the strategy are to primarily achieve continuous improvement and raise the level of service delivery across all areas of the Council based on customer feedback and their levels of expectation. The strategy is also set against the Council s corporate strategy, a developing community plan and defined standards of service through national, statutory and local performance indicators. 2

3 Part A & Role of the (Human Resources) Function Personnel Services Page 3 3

4 Background to Human Resource Management Human Resource Management is a key skill requirement for any individual with a responsibility for staff. Within the context of Stratford on Avon District Council the management of Human Resources can be seen at several levels. Firstly in the roles/responsibilities and activities undertaken by Personnel Services and secondly through the responsibilities of officers of the Council who have the management of one or more members of staff. This strategy focuses on the policies, procedures and practices that are initiated, developed, translated and co-ordinated by Personnel Services which are then adopted and approved by officers and staff for use within the Authority. The aim of this strategy is driven by the need for change and a desire to achieve continuous improvement and excellence in all areas of service delivery. Personnel Services The Changing Scene Personnel Services as a function is part of the overall corporate management of the Council and aims to provide a service which will assist staff in the delivery of excellent services to the people in the community they serve. This function has until recently been a service associated with the more traditional functions generally associated with personnel e.g. recruitment and retention, training, advice on conditions of service etc. However, it is recognised that there must be increased focus on developing the service into one which is more pro-active, strategic, customer focused and looks for continuous improvement in the delivery of its functions. To achieve this the following principles need to be addressed throughout the authority:- - The personnel service needs to be more customer focussed whilst balancing the needs of various stakeholders e.g. members, management team, JMT, UNISON, national and regional bodies, partner agencies etc. - There is an increased need for more feedback information on service requirements and performance. - Increased capabilities of technology will enable greater storage, access and retrieval of personnel information. - Addressing the challenges of developing creativity, capacity and confidence through a more flexible approach to workforce planning. - Increased opportunities for the development of officers and senior managers to enable them to carry out their people management responsibilities in full. - More focussed opportunities for training and development of staff and elected members to enable more efficient use of the training resources. - Greater monitoring of performance management information will enable the Council to address areas of poor performance and reward those which are good/excellent. - Seeking to maintain and develop the consultative approach to employment relations issues with the recognised unions, or other groups. - Ensuring that the underlying basis for all Human Resource (HR) issues is the requirement for fairness, consistency and equality for all. 4

5 Influences on the Human Resources Strategy There are many external and internal influences that impact on Human Resource management and these need to be recognised as underpinning the production of the HR strategy. Central Government Policies and Strategies The impact of Central Government is evident across all service areas of the Authority. This influence takes many forms and includes the provision of legislation, the setting of corporate performance indicators, the commitment towards equality and diversity, and the strategic impact of initiatives such as Comprehensive Performance Assessment and Best Value. In order to meet the challenges of the above, staff require skills development in many areas of people management, particularly in relation to equalities, sickness absence and performance management. National Bargaining on Pay and Conditions of Service Staff pay and conditions of service are currently negotiated at national level through the National Joint Council for Local Government Services. These negotiations result in a rigid framework for managing staff pay and conditions of service. However, with accountability being sought at local level there is a need for increased flexibility in conditions of service for staff and a need for consultation and decision-making to take place between this Council and the local Union branches. The Council has adopted its objectives regarding pay and rewards and seeks a pay and rewards policy which is fair, motivational, affordable and effectively resourced. Current Employment Market Many areas of local government are facing severe skills shortages in various professional specialities, e.g. Information Technology, Building Control, Planning and Environmental Health. Stratford District Council has not so far experienced major difficulties in recruitment, to the extent that some Authorities have. However, there are specialisms where, due to the individual salary levels, market forces payments have been introduced to supplement grade levels. Another national issue is the difficulty in encouraging graduates into local government. This Strategy aims to address these concerns through the implementation of job evaluation and piloting a joint Warwickshire Authority approach to a graduate training scheme. Community Plan The Community Plan identifies the improvements in the Stratford upon Avon district area, which have been expressed by the local residents. To achieve these objectives, a wide variety of agencies, including Stratford District Council, other local authorities, the private sector, voluntary and community organisations will need to work together. The impact on the Council s staff will mean them working in a multi-agency environment, and ensuring that they have the necessary skills to undertake the activities required of them. Flexibility of work skills and flexibility in working arrangements will be key features in job roles for the future. 5

6 Corporate Strategy The Corporate Strategy, adopted with effect from 1 April 2002, highlights seven key priorities for the District Council, which is supported by 23 strategic objectives. Under key priority 7, which aims to deliver cost-effective, high-quality services, strategic objective 3 states that there will be improvements in the quality and efficiency of the Council s services through improved management and by developing staff in supporting life-long learning and training. This means that skills development for staff and Members is a central part of the culture. The HR Strategy will highlight the intent to become a learning organisation, and to seek continuous improvement in all areas of management practice and development. To ensure the Council has a sustained focus on achievement of its Corporate objectives, it has been agreed there will be three annual Corporate priorities. These priority areas determine the key activities the Authority will focus on in order to improve the lives of the residents of the District, based on public consultation. The draft priorities for the next three years are In 2003/04 these priorities are: The Market Towns Initiative Recycling (Green Waste) Leisure (Shipston/Alcester). In 2004/05 these priorities will be: Ensuring the completion of the 2003/04 priority objectives Development of more affordable housing Community safety (particularly including youth) In 2005/06 these priorities will be: Enabling the development of more affordable housing Community safety Heritage of the District. By focusing on these objectives, there will be resource (both financial and human) implications. The Council is therefore looking towards flexibility, providing it with the opportunity to divert resources from one key priority to another to help ensure these key priorities are met. The Human Resources Strategy recognises the need for a flexible approach in terms of how staff resource issues are managed. Best Value Performance Plan The Best Value Performance Plan, which is updated annually, is a plan which gives a clear statement about: What services the Authority will deliver to local people; How it will deliver them; What standards of service are currently delivered and what standards the public should expect in the future; What action it will take to deliver such standards and over what timescale. 6

7 In recognising the need to deliver quality services to the residents of the District, continuous improvement is required through regular revising of internal systems. The HR Strategy highlights how the skills development of staff in the areas of performance management will be addressed and offers support through the management development programme. Financial Plan As part of the annual budget, the Council produces a medium term financial forecast, as part of the overall resource allocation. The last few years have seen the Authority facing budget pressures for a variety of reasons and this issue has had a strong impact on the management of services. Although a balanced budget has always been achieved, financial resource management continues to be a significant issue within the Council. A large proportion of the total Council expenditure relates to staff salaries. Budget decisions will influence organisational structure, while staff recruitment and retention implications of the Job Evaluation exercise, and general employment relations issues will impact on the budget. Implementing Electronic Government (IEG) A key priority for the Authority is to achieve the Government s target of ensuring 100% of service delivery is electronic by The Council has produced its second IEG statement, stating the Council s current position in relation to electronic delivery of services at the present time and where it intends to be by The Authority has just submitted its IEG 3. One of the main themes of IEG is to ensure public services are more customer and user focussed. One of the key areas for improvement within Personnel Services is the development of the Personnel computer system and thereby information management. This initiative is affected by the proposed transfer of the Council s payroll service to Warwickshire County Council. The service also uses the Council s Intranet and Internet, which allows access to vacancies and information on policies and procedures. The recruitment process will be further improved through improvements in the Council s website and the Internet. Environmental Policies Stratford District Council has for several years been accredited through the Eco Management and Audit System (EMAS). This commitment to challenging environmental awareness and ensuring that it is at the heart of all decisionmaking continues to be a corporate priority. This poses challenges for all services to ensure that they comply with good practice of environmental awareness and, consequently staff training in this area is an ongoing priority within the Council s development programme. EMAS also impacts on the Council s holding and disposal of chemicals that fall under the provisions of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations. It is essential the Council has adequate procedures to ensure the health, safety and well-being of its staff, councillors and visitors. The Council aims to ensure that staff health, safety and well being will be appropriately managed to minimise staff absence and injury, thereby ensuring a safe, healthy and environmentally friendly work environment. 7

8 Part B Future Strategy for Human Resources at Stratford on Avon District Council

9 Range of Functions Provided The functions currently contained within the Personnel Services service area cover the following human resource management areas: - Recruitment and Retention - Employment Relations - Staff Pay and Conditions of Service - Training and Development - Health, Safety and Welfare The duties and responsibilities covered are primarily governed by legislation and/or Codes of Practice, but are also, in some cases, modified through local negotiation. 9

10 Future Strategy for Human Resources at Stratford on Avon District Council Overall objective and personnel service philosophy The major strategic purpose of human resource management is to provide a culture and environment which will assist staff in the delivery of excellent services to the people in the community they serve, by putting into effect the Council s priorities. Personnel Services helps develop and monitor the policies, procedures, practices and standards which support this purpose in order to fulfill statutory obligations and to demonstrate the Council s commitment to investing in its staff as well as being recognised as an equal opportunities employer. Personnel Services will therefore seek to achieve continuous improvement in all its activities and help ensuring that all staff are equipped with the skills and ongoing development necessary to ensure they can deliver excellence in service delivery, partnership working and community leadership. Personnel Service Aims To support the objective of the Human Resources strategy, the following details the aims of the Personnel Service function: - to maintain and improve on the professional standards offered by this service to all its users - to seek to maintain and improve on equality of access in all its functions to users of the service - to monitor and seek improvement on service performance on a continuous and on-going basis, including benchmarking and user feedback - to meet the requirements of nationally recognised standards, such as IIP and the Two Ticks standard which demonstrate the commitment towards continuous improvement and disadvantaged sections of the community. - to use electronic technology to improve the scope and delivery of functions within the service as well as access to information - to improve and enhance the working lives of staff within the Authority through flexible work arrangements and by ensuring a healthy and safe work environment - to work with partner agencies wherever feasible to deliver an economic and effective service, or provide better value for money. Priorities of Personnel Services The key tasks/projects of Personnel Services are set out each year within a Service Plan. Supporting these tasks are the following priorities: - to monitor, review and improve the effectiveness of the services it provides - to carry out its statutory obligations and to provide human resource management support to all Council services to enable them to carry out their role - to implement priority tasks as agreed by the Council 10

11 Individual Objectives and Targets within Personnel Services High priority tasks or projects from the Service Plan are monitored through the Council s management procedures and feedback through individual Staff Development and Appraisal interviews. Performance within Personnel Services is monitored through a series of strategic, corporate and local Performance Indicators. These indicators are as set out below: Strategic Level Indicators: Number of days/shifts lost to sickness absence per full time equivalent member of staff. Corporate Level Indicators: Percentage of top 5% of earners who are women. Percentage of top 5% of earners from black and minority ethnic communities. Early retirements (excluding ill-health retirements) as a percentage of workforce. Ill-health retirements as a percentage of workforce. Percentage of staff declaring they meet the Disability Discrimination Act disability definition. EMAS number of staff employed in the authority, and number of essential car users. Letters fully answered within the Authority s target (5 days acknowledgement, 15 days for full response). Telephone answering in rings? Percentage of interactions with the public which, electronically, are capable of electronic service delivery and which are being delivered. Percentage of personnel staff who have had an appraisal or appraisal review every six months. Number of reportable incidents as defined by HSE. Personnel Service Performance The authority has a three tier system of performance monitoring. The general philosophy is that elected Members focus on the quality of what is delivered in the Council s priority areas. Monitoring how it is done (operational indicators, management information) is the responsibility of service managers and Management Team. 11

12 This three-tier approach is shown below: Strategic Level indicators of corporate strategy. Results to Management Team & Executive. Corporate Level Key service performance indicators. Results to Management Team quarterly and Executive 6 monthly. Operational Level Reported to Management Team quarterly and to OSC 6 monthly on exception basis. While performance indicators monitor some aspects of the work of Personnel Services, other information such as satisfaction surveys and focus groups also need to be taken into account in order to obtain a full picture of performance. Nevertheless, Performance Indicators are important in monitoring Personnel Services service delivery. 12

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14 Key Themes for Personnel Services Seven key themes have been identified within the Human Resources Strategy, each of which has a strategic objective based on current Council priorities and key targets for a three year period The key themes are:- 1) Recruitment and retention 2) Pay and rewards 3) Learning/development 4) Equality and diversity 5) Performance and continuous improvement 6) Employment relations 7) Health, safety and well-being 14

15 Recruitment And Retention The Strategic Objective To ensure that the Authority employs staff who will deliver a professional and excellent service to customers of the Authority. The Council will, through continuous development and fair pay and rewards, encourage those staff to remain with the Council while both the Council and the individual is benefitting. What Do We Have Already? Recruitment documentation available electronically on the internet Recruitment Guidelines for all staff involved in the recruitment process Induction programme for all new staff and councillors Two ticks disability standard attained Equal opportunities policy statement covering employment procedures Employment of one member of staff through Remploy Application form in Braille and on tapes Translation service Flexi-scheme available to most staff Enhanced Leave Entitlements Benefits package Up-to-date knowledge of staff preferences What We Will Do In The Future We will implement the strategy as follows by:- - ensuring that all recruitment practices are fair and non-discriminatory - encouraging and developing a work-life balance for all staff through the adoption of flexible work arrangements e.g. homeworking/hot desking - developing interactive electronic recruitment documentation and creating a more versatile and effective process - considering more creative methods of testing for recruitment, team building and succession planning activities - workforce planning 15

16 Pay And Rewards The Strategic Objective The Council s aim is to provide staff with a pay and rewards strategy which is fair, motivational, affordable and effectively resourced. What Do We Have Already? Establishment and nationally negotiated pay and grading structures Travel and subsistence payments Honoraria Free car parking Lease car payments Job evaluation exercise in progress Nationally and locally agreed conditions of service What We Will Do In The Future We will implement the strategy as follows by: - Implementing and developing further an objective evaluation of job grades across the Authority and introducing a new pay grading structure for all - Developing means to encourage and reward staff whose performance is recognised as being excellent. - reviewing the benefits package for staff with a view to creating a cafeteria of benefits - encouraging creativity and improvement throughout the Authority through the establishment of a staff suggestion scheme - Encouraging development and progression of staff through the Council through the introduction of a number of career grade posts - Reviewing and revising, as appropriate, the Council s long service award scheme 16

17 Equality And Diversity The Strategic Objective To ensure the Council s commitment to equality and diversity of employment, it will seek to develop policy and procedures in line with statutory legislation as a minimum standard. To this end, the Council s Equalities Statement sets out the standards which the Authority will adopt in all employment matters to ensure compliance and good practice. What Do We Have Already? Equalities statement covering employment policies and procedures Absence Management Policy. Compassionate, Family and Personal Leave Policy. Recruitment Guidelines. Disability co-ordination post (part-time). Joint partnership work (funded) post addressing equality issues within the Council A scheme for training and developing staff s awareness in equalities. What We Will Do in the Future? We will implement the strategy as follows by:- - seeking to attain the Local Government s Standard Level 2 - working with other local authorities and partner agencies to develop and gain commitment to a revised equalities statement - reviewing key policies and procedures, such as absence management and compassionate, family and personal leave policies which affect performance and attendance at work in line with the Council s procedure - producing guidelines on recruitment to encourage fairness and openness and avoid cases of discrimination, equality and diversity grounds - supporting the work of specially funded posts for the purpose of furthering the work of equality both within the council and in the community - identify and deliver training and development to staff and councillors on key equality issues - using performance information to identify any areas of inequality across a range of equality and diversity issues 17

18 Learning/Development The Strategic Objective The Council wishes to employ and retain a well-trained and motivated workforce. The Authority will therefore invest time and money in its staff and councillors to ensure that everyone has fair and equal access to job-related, professional and organisational development opportunities. The Council will continue to support achievement of the Investors in People standard. What Do We Have Already? Corporate staff and councillor development programme Management Development programme for Joint Management Team Investors in People standard Post-qualification training scheme Devolved training budgets Departmental continuous professional development programmes What We Will Do in the Future We will implement the strategy as follows by:- - retaining accreditation of the IIP standard - encouraging staff to attend the Council s management development programme - developing identified competencies for Corporate Directors - focussing training and development opportunities to those identified through individual staff appraisals and by political group representatives - seeking to encourage other authorities and partner agencies to share in combined programmes of training and development for staff and elected members - seeking to work with other authorities in Warwickshire to establish a graduate training scheme, thereby encouraging high calibre staff into local government to the benefit of all participating authorities - improving the delivery of training and development programmes through the use of technology - seeking to become a Learning Organisation as demonstrated in all levels of learning and development 18

19 Performance And Continuous Improvement The Strategic Objective The Council will seek to ensure continuous improvement and best value in employment and development related issues within the Authority. This will be achieved through the monitoring of strategic, corporate and local indicators to ensure that the Authority s performance is recognised as being excellent. Staff will understand their individual role and contribution within the organisation and appreciate their importance in meeting the Council s corporate aims and objectives. What Do We Have Already? Strategic, corporate and local performance indicators Service plans which identify and link community, Council and departmental work objectives. Staff appraisal reviews that identify individual work objectives and link performance to the achievement of the departmental service plans. Reviews also identify individual training and development needs which contributes to the development of the Council s training programme. Disciplinary Procedure which ensures a fair and consistent approach in the resolution of disciplinary cases, which encourages staff to expect and achieve acceptable standards of behaviour and conduct. Absence procedure which ensures a consistent approach to the management of absence within the Council and provides guidance to managers tackling recurring staff absences through ill-health. Secondment Policy which encourages staff to gain new skills and experience by filling a vacant position within or outside the Council for a temporary period, after which they return to their original position. Partnership working which encourages jointly funded projects and posts between other local authorities and partner voluntary groups. What We Will Do in the Future We will implement the strategy as follows by:- - introducing an upward appraisal scheme - reviewing the Council s existing appraisal scheme - seeking opportunities for joint working with other partner agencies. This has the advantage of maximising the use of financial and staff resources - reviewing employment procedures which tackle issues of performance and capability 19

20 - tackling issues that arise from regular monitoring of performance management information - reviewing two key employment procedures within the authority, that of disciplinary and absence 20

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22 Employment Relations The Strategic Objective The Council seeks to be a model employer on all employment-related issues. This will be achieved through the translation of employment legislation into good practice to ensure that staff are treated in a fair and consistent manner. What Do We Have Already? Locally agreed conditions of service. Recognition of UNISON and GMB unions and consultation and negotiation of employment conditions of service through the Joint Consultation and Negotiation Group. Disciplinary Procedure Grievance Procedure Absence Management Policy Dignity at Work Policy Confidential Reporting (Whistleblowing) Policy Severance Policy Early Retirement Policy What We Will Do in the Future We will implement the strategy as follows by:- - Maintaining and developing good employment relations within the Council including the use of the consultative and negotiating group, Joint Consultative and Negotiating Group (JCNG) - maximising opportunities to gain user feedback on a range of human resource issues through the use of focus groups and staff surveys - reviewing key employment procedures - reviewing the age profile of the authority to identify any areas of action that may be necessary - developing use of the Council s intranet service to improve the level of human resource information available to managers and staff 22

23 Health, Safety And Wellbeing The Strategic Objective The Council will ensure that, as far as is reasonably practicable, that health and safety policy and procedures are compliant with statutory legislation. In addition staff health, safety and wellbeing will be managed to minimise staff absence and injury, thereby ensuring a safer and healthy working environment. What do we have already? A Health and Safety Policy. A clear set of responsibilities and accountabilities. Health and Safety Procedures covering a wide range of safety and welfare issues. Welfare initiatives, including; Free staff counselling Free eye-tests Pre employment health checks and the supply of occupational health advice when necessary An annual health and safety Work Programme, designed to review the effectiveness of existing procedures and assess whether new or improved measures are required to achieve the safety policy and strategic aims. What We Will Do In The Future We will implement the strategy as follows by:- - creating a safe and healthy workplace, by eliminating all hazards of significant risk - identifying and delivering appropriate levels of safety training and development across the authority - identifying the main causes of stress within the organisation and working with staff representatives and councillors to agree a programme of remedial action - using performance information to reduce levels of sickness absence by proactive action by managers - developing an audit system that will measure on an on-going basis the efectiveness of the Council s safety system 23

24 Establishment Resources within Personnel Services The resources allocated to Personnel Services were reviewed in 2002 with the organisational restructure. The establishment within this service area was reduced which has impacted on the level of service delivery. Resource levels now mean that priority is given to the achievement of objectives laid down within the Service Plan. The current establishment for Personnel Services is as follows:- 4 qualified Personnel Professionals including Head of Personnel Services FTE Post (Hours) FTE s part qualified Personnel Professional qualified Health & Safety Adviser (part-time) Personnel Support Assistants (all part-time) Detailed analysis of the workload of the department is currently being undertaken. Financial Resources within Personnel Services The main budgets within this service area include the staff salaries, transport related expenses, supplies and service expenses, service level charges to other support services. In addition the service manages three other budgets on behalf of the authority. These are employee expenses (covering the areas of relocation, interviews, health and safety and staff car parking), subscription expenses and general training. The budget allocation for 2003/04 is as follows: Employee Expenses 174,600 Transported Related Expenses 3,800 Supplies and Services Expenses 12,600 Central Support Services 100,600 Capital Charge 1, ,800 Employee Expenses 18,700 Supplies and Services Expenses 700 Training 106,200 Maternity Total 125,600 Conclusion The HR Strategy is designed to outline the approach and importance that human resource management takes within Stratford on Avon District Council in order to help drive the Authority through a period of change in a culture of continuous improvement and excellence. 24

25 In order to help facilitate this change, Personnel Services is recognising the need to deliver on key priorities, and seeking creative and flexible solutions to organisational development issues. It also seeks to be customer focused in its approach to the various users of its service. Key to this strategy is the concept that staff add value to the organisation and are an important resource in delivering the priority objectives of the Council. By creating a well-motivated, skilled and flexible workforce the Council will achieve its vision for the people of the community it serves. 25

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