Agenda item

Our People Strategy Annual Review 2023/24 and Year 4 Plan 2024/25


Kate Sullivan (Strategy and Commissioning Lead for Organisational Development) introduced the report, stating that the Our People Strategy was reviewed each year and presented to the Committee. The Annual Review examined achievements over the past year as well as performance metrics and priority actions for the year ahead. She advised that five key areas had been prioritised, these were: Strategic Workforce Planning; Reward and Recognition; Recruitment and Retention; Leadership; and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and Wellbeing. The Committee was asked to note the activity summarised within the 2023/24 Annual Review and endorse the Our People Strategy Delivery Plan for 2024/25.


Councillor Millar praised the quality of the report and its findings. She highlighted that it was proposed to work more closely with staff network groups in 2024/25. She asked if the involvement of trade unions would also be sought, stating that trade union representatives were often experienced, well-informed of EDI-related matters, and able to contribute positively.


Kate Sullivan advised that the Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) met on a quarterly basis, providing a means to liaise with trade unions. At present, trade unions did not participate in staff network groups but there was nothing to prevent their involvement. She would highlight this option to trade unions and staff network groups.


In response to Councillor Millar, Kate Sullivan advised that there had been an increase in the number of staff absences due to sickness, including stress and mental health-related absences. In response, an action plan had been devised. Attention had been given to causes of absences including workloads and the effect of long NHS waiting lists. This work was ongoing. She advised that stress and mental health support was provided. The increased number of mental health-related absences was consistent with trends nationally. It was a priority area and continued support would be offered to staff.


Kate Sullivan advised that the wellbeing offer to staff would be augmented by partnership work with Occupational Health and Employee Assistance Programme providers with specific focus on stress and mental health. The Council would also strive to achieve Silver Thrive at Work Accreditation in the year ahead. This included a strong emphasis on stress and mental health support.


In response to the Chair, Kate Sullivan advised that new starters to Warwickshire County Council were asked a series of questions to inform an understanding of social mobility. These questions had recently been refreshed and work would be undertaken to compare the Council’s workforce with others both locally and nationally. A ‘grow your own’ approach was promoted, providing improved opportunities to recruit, retain and develop talented individuals. Social mobility objectives were also supported by visits to schools to promote what the Council had to offer as an employer and provide insight into the range of different careers that were available.


In response to the Chair, Kate Sullivan advised that the Council performed well against EDI criteria. Pay gaps within the organisation compared well against the national average. It would be important to maintain this good progress and enable staff to feel safe and included. This objective was supported by working closely with staff network groups to listen to feedback and develop effective policies to further promote EDI.


Bal Jacob (Director of Workforce and Local Services) advised that meetings had been held with staff network groups to develop an understanding of how they could be most effectively supported and resourced. This encompassed a focus on communication and approaches to engagement with the workforce. The Council also had an opportunity to engage with local services to promote levelling up and social mobility objectives. This encompassed collaborative working to engage with communities (with a particular focus on areas of social deprivation) to promote career opportunities within the Council. Apprenticeship programmes provided an effective means to bring talented individuals into the organisation and invest in their development.


In response to Councillor Kettle, Kate Sullivan advised that a significant amount of internal communication took place over digital platforms including emails and the Council’s intranet. It was acknowledged that this was not always the most effective way to engage with community teams. This had been the focus of a project to give detailed attention to the needs of community workers. It had been found that, whilst community workers may be less likely to respond to a staff survey, the level of engagement within individual teams was very good. As a result, renewed attention would be given to approaches to engage with community teams. She advised that the staff survey response rate was highest within the Resources Directorate. This was anticipated as many of those within the Resources Directory were desk-based. Within the Communities and People Directorates, there was a higher proportion of staff who had different working patterns which accounted for slightly lower response rates within specific teams. However, the overall response rate had increased from 43% to 56% which was very encouraging.


Councillor Millar moved that the recommendation be accepted and was seconded by Councillor Tromans. This was supported unanimously by the Committee.




That the Committee notes the activity as set out in the 2023/24 Annual Review of Our People Strategy and endorses the 2024/25 Our People Strategy Delivery Plan.


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