Staff input brings flexible working

South Tyneside Council has called on employees to help redesign its
work-life balance scheme as part of a major development programme.

The council took an innovative work-life balance roadshow around the North
East to canvas opinion from 9,000 staff members and gather ideas on how to
improve the organisation.

Following a period of consultation, the HR team at South Tyneside has
introduced flexi-time, with no requirement to work core hours.

HR director Stephen Moir said that staff felt more engaged in the whole
scheme because they helped design it.

"It makes work-life balance much easier to manage and it’s been really
well received by everyone – especially those with children. Staff feel they’ve
designed something workable," he said.

The council is now compiling information, which will form a work-life
balance toolkit for employees to follow.

He said that many line managers had concerns about how the system would
work, but through consultation and careful briefing, the scheme had been
implemented successfully.

"It’s really about educating the managers as much as the staff. I think
it will reduce short-term sickness, and it’s a great marketing tool in terms of
recruitment and retention," added Moir.

The changes have highlighted the need for greater leadership skills within
the council and 29 members of the team have been sent on an intensive
leadership course, with the next tier of managers already lined up to attend
the programme.

"The way jobs are changing in the public sector means it’s becoming
more important for people to be effective leaders rather than being strong on
the technical side," said Moir.

By Ross Wigham

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