Personnel Today Awards 2015 winners: Excellence in Public Service award goes to North Ayrshire Council

North Ayrshire Council sweep the Excellence in Public Service Award
North Ayrshire Council sweep the Excellence in Public Service Award in 2015.

North Ayrshire Council take home the 2015 Personnel Today Award for Excellence in Public Service

WINNER

North Ayrshire Council

About the organisation

North Ayrshire has a population of around 136,000 people, and is one of 32 council areas in Scotland. Council headquarters are located in Irvine, the principal town in the region.

The challenge
North Ayrshire Council wanted employee involvement and innovation at the heart of the way it handled change. Employee engagement survey results had shown that staff did not feel involved in decisions about change and improving service delivery, and were frustrated about bureaucratic processes and customer satisfaction levels. Only 50% felt they were involved in decisions that affected their work.

What the organisation did

  • Launched a change initiative called Kai-Sigma. Kai is Japanese for “good change”, while Sigma signified the structured approach the council wanted to take.
  • Invested in Green Belt training for 34 staff in “lean” project techniques, while eight members of the senior team undertook “Lean Champions” training.
  • Asked staff to pitch projects at a “peer pitch day” to whittle down ideas to those they would pursue.
  • Shortlisted 17 pitches using three-minute elevator pitch on each topic and evaluation grid on the potential benefits.
  • Final six projects were assigned to Green Belt trainees and a Lean Champion, and these teams scoped out each project into an improvement charter.
  • Held final “Day of Success” presentation event, with each of the teams presenting their results to the chief executive.

Benefits and achievements

  • Using cross-service project teams has helped to break down barriers in the council, build relationships and drive improvement.
  • OT Equipment Store, based in Irvine (which provides aids and adaptations to council homes) has improved customer service and team morale thanks to work to improve poor standards of care.
  • Reduced number of steps it takes to do PVG checks (Scottish disclosure requirement) in recruitment from 42 to 31, saving 42% in processing time.
  • Number of community care grants completed in 15 days has increased from 87% to 97%.
  • Eight steps removed from external hiring process: hire request time reduced from 18 hours to one hour.
  • Level of staff who now feel involved with decisions affecting their work is 77%.
  • Employee engagement levels up to 65.3% from 55% in 2012, despite period of downsizing and budget reductions.

Judges’ comments

“An engaging submission showing the benefits of a focused and systematic approach to process improvement and employee engagement.”


RUNNERS-UP

Chelmsford City Council

About the organisation

Chelmsford City Council represents the Essex county town of Chelmsford. The city has a population of more than 170,000 – the borough has one town council and 25 parish councils.

The challenge

Excellence in Public Service – the judges

Barry Pirie, president, PPMA

Martin Rayson, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham

Anne Gibson, Norfolk County Council

When Chelmsford City Council underwent a transformation as an organisation, it wanted to ensure that its HR service became less reactive and more strategically focused. This entailed a restructuring to rationalise the service and a new business partner-led model.

What the organisation did

  • Appointed a new human resources services manager.
  • Reduced staff numbers from 27.5 full-time equivalent to 16 staff: this was sensitively conducted and suggestions for improvement were taken on board.
  • Aligned lead HR professionals to directorates to ensure HR is involved in decision making at the council.
  • Improved communication through new open-plan working environment.
  • Reviewed roles and responsibilities and held complete audit of skills, knowledge, behaviours and attitude.
  • Looked at workforce development plans and identified more strategic solutions, such as: succession planning (to address ageing workforce); talent management and reward schemes.
  • Supported the business in implementing transformational cost savings agenda, securing support of trade union through these negotiations.
  • Led cultural change programme to embed “Chelmsford Behaviours”, which form part of performance management process.
  • Designed “Managers of Chelmsford Tomorrow” development programme.

Benefits and achievements

  • Efficiency savings of £1.27 million, and savings of £3 million in reducing headcount by 10%.
  • More than 400 staff have attended at least one type of training session since January 2013.
  • Year-on-year reduction in sickness absence (down 46%), and savings of around £230,000 as a result.
  • Commended in Local Government Association Corporate Peer Challenge, which deemed that “all areas were performing well”.
  • First council in the region to attain Investors in People Gold and Champion status.
  • Chief executive feedback on transformation: “HR is now a driving force within the business, which is enabling and supporting the organisation’s transformation agenda by embedding and strengthening our culture and values.”

Judges’ comments

“The solution was delivered well and good evidence for this is given.”


Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

About the organisation

Doncaster & Bassetlaw covers four hospital sites, including Bassetlaw Hospital in Worksop, Doncaster Royal Infirmary, Montagu Hospital and Retford Hospital. Together these hospitals cover a local population of around 420,000 people and employ 6,500 people.

The challenge

Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust wanted to deliver high quality, “right first time” services that were designed around patients. It needed to prepare for future challenges of higher patient demand, reduced finances and fewer trained staff, as well as turn around inefficient systems and high executive turnover.

What the organisation did

  • Appointed new executive director of people and OD; HR team led the recruitment of new board and CEO.
  • Developed new HR business partner model and made structural changes to HR function itself.
  • Transformed 16 clinical service units into six care groups, focused around efficient patient pathways.
  • Launched comprehensive development programme for all line managers in the Trust: DBH Management Skills Programme.
  • Redesigned induction process to focus on strategic and priorities and values.
  • Established programme to ensure culture of continuous improvement and to encourage future leaders to work across boundaries.
  • Underpinned restructuring exercises with open staff meetings, newsletters and a webpage.
  • Supported recruitment by psychometrics, work-based tests, presentations and formal interviews.

Benefits and achievements

  • New career pathways have helped retain top performers, for example in heads of nursing and quality roles.
  • Use of Bradford Factor/scorecard tools have supported a reduction in absence and an improvement in the way capability issues are handled.
  • Staff survey results have held up well despite backdrop of major changes to the organisation.
  • Changes to outcomes for patients: for example 36% reduction in pressure ulcers, reduced mortality rate, and a 36% drop in hospital acquired infections.
  • The Trust has also met waiting time and cancer treatment targets.
  • It is in a minority by having a financial surplus at the end of the year.

Judges’ comments

“An excellent submission which demonstrates the contribution of a whole system approach to process and behaviour change to impressive business impact and improved outcomes for service users.”


LGSS

About the organisation

LGSS is one of the largest public-sector shared-services ventures of its kind in the UK, wholly owned by Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire county councils. After nearly four years in operation LGSS now has more than 1400 staff, providing services to more than 300 public-sector customers.

The challenge

In March 2013, Ofsted conducted an inspection of Northamptonshire County Council Child Protection Services, which it judged inadequate. Adoption Services and Services for Looked After Children also received the same judgment. To address this, LGSS needed to attract and retain talented social workers – despite a challenging recruitment climate nationally.

What the organisation did

  • Established an LGSS taskforce to look at recruitment, retention and workforce development, specifically four key roles of service manager, team manager, senior practitioner and social worker.
  • Developed five work streams to tackle the issues: workforce profiling, recruitment and retention, pay and reward, workforce development, and engagement and recognition.
  • Set up a Social Work Academy to enable newly qualified social workers to consolidate their learning and knowledge and ensure quality at the beginning of their employment.
  • Recruits have now entered the workforce and are assigned into ‘buddy teams’: they return to the academy for further training and support.
  • Embarked on international recruitment programme: cohort of Indian social workers started in June 2015.
  • Reviewed all workforce planning to look at hire times, and identify teams with most critical proportion of agency workers and vacancies.
  • Benchmarked pay and reward to ensure employee retention strategies were highly competitive for permanent and agency workers.
  • Ran engagement focus groups across different teams and developed action plans to address any issues.

Benefits and achievements

  • Interim 2015 Ofsted inspection was positive.
  • Between 1 October 2013 and 26 April 2015, 115 new employees have been recruited.
  • Use of agency workers has gone down 10% in the last year.
  • Effective performance management systems are in place.
  • Council has clear, up-to-date workforce training strategies.
  • Reward/retention packages has improved: permanent employees receive a £1,000 retention payment; new employees receive a £3,000 to £4,000 recruitment bonus, plus relocation allowance of up to £8,000.

Judges’ comments

“The service is on a very positive direction of travel and it is clearly evident that the development of a more stable and engaged workforce is playing a big part in that improvement.”


Liverpool City Council

About the organisation

Liverpool City Council is a large metropolitan local authority with more than 5,000 employees, excluding schools staff. The council provides a diverse range of services to the citizens of the city.

The challenge
Liverpool City Council was one of the councils most affected by government cuts, resulting in a need to streamline services and achieve value for money. This meant a large number of changes to services and many employees were at risk of redundancy. The council wanted to redeploy as many employees as possible to retain skills, knowledge and experience.

What the organisation did

  • Decided to replace the existing, manual redeployment process, which sent staff a vacancy list once a week and rapidly became out of date.
  • Developed an online Redeployment Portal, which automates key elements of the process.
  • Employees have real-time access to all current live vacancies for at-risk employees (before external applicants), plus an online profile form which asks targeted questions.
  • Employees can update their skills profile on the portal at any time, and it’s accessible from work or home.
  • Offered career transition courses to complement the portal, such as interview skills, marketing yourself.

Benefits and achievements

  • Over past two financial years, 168 employees have been successfully redeployed under the council’s policy.
  • This has generated a cost saving of more than £1.5 million in potential redundancy payments.
  • An average of nine employees per month have been redeployed into new posts, compared with six per month in the previous year; equivalent to 50% increase in productivity.
  • There are plans to introduce new functions to the portal over the next 12 months, such as automated matching of profiles to roles.

Judges’ comments

“An interesting submission demonstrating the benefits of automated processes and creative use of technology.”


Wiltshire Council

About the organisation
Wiltshire Council was formed in 2009 and is a large unitary council, delivering in excess of 350 services with an annual budget of £900 million to a local population of 474,000.

The challenge
Like many councils, Wiltshire had to deliver significant cost savings and by 2011, HR had delivered a 30% reduction in budget and staff, while undergoing a transformation to become a more strategic partner to the business. Challenges included a huge reduction in office space across the county, and the results of a staff survey highlighting where certain behaviours needed to be addressed.

What the organisation did

  • Identified two key areas of priority: culture change and stronger leadership.
  • Launched a communications plan in 2012 to ensure staff at all levels understood the behaviours expected.
  • Reviewed levels, layers and roles of management, leading to a reduction in management roles through a voluntary redundancy exercise.
  • HR supported more than 100 service reviews, redesigning jobs and structures to create efficiencies; this resulted in 600 further redundancies.
  • Developed coaching and mentoring scheme with initial focus on leadership.
  • Launched Wiltshire Rewards staff benefits scheme.
  • Developed behavioural test for candidates to determine organisational fit against the new behaviours framework.
  • New recruitment channels such as apprenticeships, as well as more direct sourcing and social media use for hiring, and a new careers website.

Benefits and achievements

  • Employee engagement has increased to 63%.
  • New rewards scheme has saved staff in excess of £160,000 since its launch 18 months ago through national and local offers; take up rates of 47%.
  • Redundancies have saved more than £9 million annually; voluntary redundancy programme has saved £6 million.
  • Improved employer brand means the vacancy rate in children’s services has reduced from 26% to just 3.9%.
  • Better age diversity through introduction of more entry-level opportunities.

Judges’ comments

“A strong submission demonstrating the power of a strategic approach to HR.”

Comments are closed.