Agenda item

Staff Health, Morale and Sickness Updates

To consider report LDS/200 of the Head of Governance, People and Performance.


Commission Members considered report LDS/200 of the Head of Governance, People & Performance.  In June 2021, Councillor Belben under the Scrutiny Procedure Rules had requested a report on staff sickness levels with Covid19 and the effects and impacts of working from home.  Following this, it was subsequently recommended that the OSC receive an annual update on staff welfare, sickness and morale.


During the discussion, with the Head of Governance, People & Performance, the HR and OD Manager and HR Consultant, the following points were expressed:

·         The Council continued to monitor sickness absence and during the first three quarters of 2022-2023. Covid continued to be within the top three reason for sickness absence. However, during Quarter 4 the Council had seen a decline in reported sickness relating to Covid.

·         The Council had continued to see an increase from its workforce taking up the counselling service and there was slightly more office based staff using this service compared to outside workers. Many employees who took up this offer requested further sessions beyond the normal 6 sessions earmarked for an individual employee.

·         The Council maintained the programme of reflective practise, the aim was to develop personal awareness, resilience, skills, and competence across professional, interpersonal, and relational domains that enhance the workplace. The initiative had supported individual teams to use a confidential reflective space in which they can reflect upon, and how they feel about what they do, particularly the impacts the pandemic has had upon them and the service providers they work with. The sessions cover many aspects including managing work boundaries, threats to resilience, coping with change and maintaining well-being. Feedback had been positive across the organisation.

·         A wide range of workshop sessions were offered through the Council’s Wellbeing Team:

Ø  Starting the year- be kind to yourself in 2023. A guide to taking care of your mental health Motivation for the year ahead-kick start 2023 with healthy eating habits

Ø  NHS Heart Health Check Food waste- top tips to reduce food waste and how to plan weekly meals

·         Other initiatives offered included:

Ø  Workplace Savings Scheme which enables staff to transfer money into a savings account directly from their salary

Ø  Pension Benefits, with the recently introduced AVC scheme for participants off the local government pension scheme

Ø  Energy at home – top tips on ways to make energy saving.

·         Staff surveys continued to be carried out and the results from December 2022 remained positive, with a good response rate (60%). In all nine topic areas there were improvements since the previous survey. However, the survey indicated that there was still work to be done in some areas.

·       It was recognised that whilst there was responsibility on the Council (as employer) to ensure it exercised its duty of care to staff there was also a need for staff to take responsibility for themselves, take advantage of the support and reach out when they were struggling.


Commission Members then raised a number of queries.  The issues raised and the key responses included:

·         Recognition that whilst the recent staff survey had shown improvement, CMT would work on an action plan to focus on areas to identify issues of dissatisfaction and support employees moving forward.

·         Acknowledged there was difficulty in recruitment to various professional roles due to a skill shortage.  Work had been carried out in terms of marketing and adapting the current recruitment material.  The new town hall was seen as an improved working environment and assisted in recruitment campaigns but in the interim it was acknowledged that a lack of recruitment added to existing pressures and morale in some areas.

·         Explanation sought as to the details provided on the other initiatives and financial workshops offered by officers and the Wellbeing Team within the Council.

·         Recognition that a high response rate was by hard copy and a review of different introductory communication methods may be beneficial prior to the next edition.

·         It was noted that it would be beneficial for the Commission to analyse the baseline survey figures to scrutinise previous years.  In addition it was recommended that the staff survey be conducted more frequently than every 3 years (or regular shorter spotlight reviews) in order to gauge staff views. 

·         Staff had previously been asked to have a presence in the office at least two days per week if full time and one day a week for part time staff in order to adapt to hybrid working coming out the pandemic. Since moving into the new town hall this hybrid approach continued with shared desks and open plan working.  Each manager has been responsible for their own area and reported little resistance to the move and new ways of working.



That the Commission noted the report and progress, with the views expressed being acknowledged and documented by the officers. 


Supporting documents: