Purpose of Report – To update Scrutiny Members on the County Councils changing workforce, presents key workforce data, outlines key areas of work and progress in year, and sets out key priorities for the year ahead.
Justine Brooksbank, Assistant Chief Executive for Business Support, provided an overview of the detailed report presented, and highlighted the following:
· A year dominated by Covid - bereavement, long Covid, impact of mental health, pressures of HAS etc;
· Not much change in key workforce data, just a slight reduction in staff numbers;
· An under reporting of ethnicity;
· An increase in staff sickness absence from 6.5 days last year to 8 days this year, which was still low in comparison to other Local Authorities and employers;
· The health and wellbeing support given to employees as detailed in paragraph 4.5 of the report;
· An increase in staff turnover (historically around 11% but currently around 16%) – the authority was struggling with retention and recruitment, with some pressure in technical roles and a doubling of the spend on agency staff;
· The range of communications channels in use for providing support and information to staff;
· Change in Government guidance regarding self-isolation and public sector guidance for employees was expected to change at the end of March 2022;
· The 4th year of the Apprenticeship levy scheme as detailed in paragraphs 5.16 – 5.20 of the report;
· The high retention levels from graduates, and the additional graduates recruited to support the ongoing work on the Local Government Review;
· Good progress was being made regard to improving diversity, equality and inclusion, with expanding employee networks becoming more vocal;
· The staff survey had highlighted a number of key points with a good response rate and an increase in the level of staff satisfaction. There had also been lessons learnt from the online engagement process, and work was ongoing to address the recorded lack of confidence in going back to working in the office, which had been attributed to concerns around Covid;
· A new corporate framework approach had been agreed regarding new hybrid ways of working and when face to face was required;
County Councillor Annabel Wilkinson suggested the more open conversations being had around mental health and wellbeing was likely to be a factor in the increased recording of long-term absences attributed to that reason.
County Councillor Yvonne Peacock queried whether there were problems with teacher training and it was confirmed there was a reducing school workforce as a result of increased academisation.
Justine Brooksbank drew Members’ attention to section 5 of the report on recruitment and the in particular the Authority’s involvement in the Government’s Kickstart Scheme. She confirmed that unemployment for young people in North Yorkshire was at 4% whereas nationally it was 6%, and highlighted the Authority’s role, acting as a broker for employers across the County and confirmed that more employer participation was needed. It was noted that traineeships had been less successful as a result of not having the right type of roles available.
Members acknowledged the massive recruitment challenge nationally in the care market and noted that the HUB supported the wider care sector not just the Authority. They were disappointed to note that whilst the recruitment campaign undertaken by the Authority had been successful, it had only resulted in the recruitment of 200 care staff.
Finally, Justine Brooksbank provided an overview of the ongoing work being undertaken as part of the LGR HR Workstream. She highlighted the new combined team in place with District and Borough Council colleagues and the shared website for vacancies. She also noted the face to face sessions that would take place from June 2022 with all district and borough council staff regarding TUPE. The intention of those sessions being to reassure staff and ensure retention.
Members thanked Justine Brooksbank for her detailed report and requested that she pass on the Committee’s thanks to all staff.
Resolved – That:
· The Update be noted
· A further update be provided in 12 months’ time