The report was introduced by Rich Thomas (Strategy and Commissioning Manager, HROD) and Kate Sullivan (Lead Commissioner – Culture, Leadership and Performance). Rich Thomas advised that the Our People Strategy had been refreshed in December 2020 and endorsed by the Staff and Pensions Committee following input from the Resources and Fire & Rescue Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The Strategy supported the vision of making Warwickshire County Council a great place to work where diverse and talented people are enabled to be at their best. He advised that a Delivery Plan for year two of the Strategy had been produced. It would enable the organisation to attract, recruit, motivate and develop the diversity of talent required to deliver the objectives of the Council Plan.
The Chair praised the quality of the Our People Strategy Annual Review 2021/2022 and Year 2 Delivery Plan, stating that it was readable and well presented.
In response to Councillor Gifford, Rich Thomas advised that consideration had been given to approaches to pay within the Strategy and Delivery Plan. He stated that the pay deal for the period ending in April 2021 had only recently been concluded. The Council was part the national negotiating framework on pay; discussions would soon take place relating to next year’s proposal for pay, including consultation with employers nationally. He advised that an increased allowance had been made available within the most recent Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) in anticipation of potential changes to pay in 2022/23.
Andrew Felton (Assistant Director, Finance) advised that due to national pay bargaining arrangements, the Council was restricted by the collective position taken by employers. Whilst the Council had allowed scope within the MTFS for future pay awards, it was unlikely that this provision had been made by all local authorities.
In response to Councillor Kettle, Rich Thomas advised that the Strategy outlined proposals for agile working. He stated that the Council had embarked on the transition to agile working prior to the outbreak of COVID-19. The experience of the Pandemic had shown the advantages of working in an agile way. He stated that a hybrid approach was now favoured to maximise organisational assets whilst enabling people to perform at their best. Survey responses from staff showed a strong appetite for agile working; provision would be made for colleagues to collaborate in person when required.
In response to Councillor Kettle, Rich Thomas advised that there was no evidence to suggest that agile working had a detrimental effect on productivity; survey data suggested that, predominantly, staff felt that they were more productive when working in an agile way.
In response to the Chair, Kate Sullivan stated that, although some roles were more readily suited to agile working than others, the Council was a complex organisation and there was scope for individual teams to examine processes to explore the options available to work in a more agile way. She advised that, at the beginning of the Pandemic, there was a widespread requirement to work from home; however, there was now scope to look more widely at approaches to agile working across the organisation.
In response to Councillor Simpson-Vince, Rich Thomas advised that the initiative to hold a volunteering and wellbeing day was intended to enable staff to sample activities that could lead to improved personal wellbeing and benefit the wider community. The pilot initiative had been well received; consideration would be given to making it an annual event.
That the Staff and Pensions Committee notes the work in the review of the Our People Strategy and authorises the Chief Executive to finalise the 2022/23 Delivery Plan having regard to the views expressed by the Staff and Pensions Committee and the Resources and Fire & Rescue Overview and Scrutiny Committee.