Letters: local government faces staff crisis

Our front page exclusive on councils’ recruitment and retention crisis has
struck a chord with HR professionals in that sector. Tellingly, many
respondents wished to remain anonymous so they could fully vent their
frustrations surrounding the issue

What a cavalier attitude to staff

A starting point for councils tackling their skills crisis (News, 15
January) would be to learn how to treat people who apply for jobs.

I applied for a relatively senior HR role within Education Leeds before
Christmas and have yet to receive acknowledgement of progress. Staff there did
not even think to let applicants know when interviews were being held, so we
could at least guess if we had been selected or not.

It is a shame a large employer like Leeds City Council doesn’t seem able to
get the basics of good employment practice right. Maybe this is another reason
why local government employees are leaving and moving to employers in other sectors.

David Albone
Corporate services manager, The Ridings Housing Association

Adapt or lose the skilled workers

Although local authorities occupy a central role in the local community,
little is done to market employment opportunities in the sector beyond
advertising in the local press and providing a job counter in reception.

Local authorities need to be more imaginative, commercial and sell their
brand in the same way as other big businesses they are in competition with for
a skilled and committed workforce.

Historically, local government has had ‘a job for life’ image, but younger
workers’ expectations are changing. More needs to be done to look at the ways
work can be tailored to fit around people’s choice of lifestyle.

If there is to be a vibrant workforce major reinvestment is needed now to
enable local authorities to reintroduce qualification-based training
programmes. It will be the best way to ensure a future supply of skilled and
expert workers in hard-to-fill specialist areas.

Pauline Maynard
Human resource manager, Croydon Council

Pay and benefits do not compare

Local government cannot attract staff as it is not paying the going rate,
particularly for professionals.

While a new job evaluation scheme is being introduced in April which aims to
harmonise pay and conditions, feedback during consultation has been poor.
Fifteen per cent of staff are set to lose out in terms of salary. I fear people
will vote with their feet.

We need to look outside local authorities for an example of what benefit
packages are available in the private sector.

If local government is going to meet its commitments to customers, it needs
to bring itself up to speed with how to motivate modern workforces.

Name and organisation withheld

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