To receive a presentation from the Chief Officer: Human Resources on the work of the Human Resources function, its current priorities, challenges and plans.
The Chief Officer: Human Resources gave a presentation and made the following points:
· The key activities of the human resources function were; organisational development, workforce planning, policy development, employee relations, contractual and employment law advice, occupational health and welfare, corporate health and safety, learning and development and problem solving.
· Total employee costs amounted to £164 million (£110 million accounting for schools staff). This was the single largest spend for the Council and so it was critical that the human resources function was undertaken in a cost effective way and provided value for money.
· The Chief Officer: Human Resources had four officers directly reporting to him as well as having professional responsibility for the human resources function embedded in the three service departments. There were 33 FTE Human Resources officers in total in the Council.
· The Chief Officer outlined the recent achievements of the human resources service, this included implementing 184 redundancies over the past four years. The roll out of the e-learning concept, the Good to Great Programme, preparing for a new HR/payroll system and developing the use of online forms and webpages. In addition, moving the workforce to a more flexible way of working, a new digitised appraisal scheme and addressing the issue of lower paid workers.
· Some of the challenges in the future would include; operating under reducing financial resources and the need to reduce staffing resources by between 10 and 15% over the next four years. The transformation programme and the senior officer demographic ‘bulge’ and its implications. In addition, the greater use of technology, flexible and mobile working, legislative change and looking at new ways to resource the workforce.
In response to members’ queries, the Chief Officer reported that;
· One of the particularly difficult challenges in recent times had been job evaluation and equal pay. This had proved to be difficult to tackle and officers had spent considerable time providing evidence to show that the Council’s pay and grading structure was fair.
· The transformation programme currently underway would review all support services and as a result all management structures could be considered and the most cost effective model adopted.
· The Chief Officer reported that secondments internally and with other local authorities were always considered. Currently the civil service were offering three fast track graduates at no charge to the Council and this would be explored further.
· The primary comparator for staff sickness rates and turnover were other similar sized local authorities, the private sector was considered not to be a like for like comparator.
· Staff were being provided with e-learning opportunities as well as more traditional training opportunities. Work had been undertaken to achieve greater value for money so that staff still had access to the same level of training opportunities.
· In terms of the senior demographic bulge, given the senior nature of the posts there would be plenty of notice that any senior officer wished to retire. In addition, implications around access to pensions may encourage officers to stay in post longer.
In response to members’ queries, the Director of Corporate Services reported that it would be key to keep staff informed and involved throughout the reviews that would be taking place as a result of the transformation programme and to assure staff that there would be no knee jerk reactions, decisions would be planned and considered. This would be important to ensure that staff morale was maintained.
The Executive Member reported that given the cost of hiring people was the Council’s single largest spend, the human resources function was an important one. In particular over the next few years, as the transformation programme was worked through the Council, the role of human resources would be critical.
The Chairman thanked the Chief Officer for his informative and interesting presentation. He stated that the human resources function was key as it valued people. It would be important over the next few years to be open and honest with staff and to treat people fairly and with respect and the human resources function would play a central role in this.
The Chairman offered his thanks to the Chief Officer on behalf of the Commission and personally for all the work that he had undertaken over the years. He stated that the services of the Chief Officer had been valued by him personally as well as much more widely and wished him well for the future.