To consider report LDS/175 of the Head of Legal, Governance and HR.
At its meeting on 7 June 2021, Commission members considered report LDS/166 of the Head of Legal, Governance and HR. Under the scrutiny procedure rules, Councillor T Belben had requested a report on staff sickness levels with Covid19 and the effects and impacts of working from home in June 2021. The Commission had requested an update on the staffing situation and the effects on working from home. Report LDS/175 detailed that update and during the discussion with the HR and OD Manager and HR Consultant, the following points were expressed:
· The Council’s offer of support to staff has been made through the learning and development programme. The support outlined in report LDS/166 remains. Part of the offer with further workshops for all colleagues have been delivered by Microsoft Teams and CBC Learning Channel and the workshop offer for people managers had been increased. The Council’s Wellbeing Team also delivered various sessions as an aid to assist employees.
· From September 2021 staff wereasked to have a presence in the office two days per week if full time and one day a week for part time staff and the council had seen little resistance to this change and adaptation to hybrid working.
· Staff surveys continued to be carried out and whilst the overall results continued to remain positive, one area that saw a downward trend was that staff were finding workload levels more challenging.
· It was noted that the legacy of the Covid pandemic will remain with the council for a long time to come.
Commission Members then raised a number of queries. The issues raised and the key responses included:
· The Council did not monitor whether its staff had received their Covid vaccination but they were encouraged to take up the offer of the vaccination.
· It was pleasing that the Council had continued to provide flu vaccines for staff and this take up had increased annually.
· Acknowledgement that clients’ tolerance levels have been impacted and they were displaying varying behaviours of impatience, intolerance and some were challenging. A piece of work was in progress to monitor this to ascertain intervention materials and training for staff if required.
· Confirmation provided that the offices were and remained Covid-secure. There were strict measures in place that were maintained.
· Recognition that the pandemic had resulted in added pressure on staff. It was noted there would be other challenges the workforce may face going forwards: people leaving the workforce through retirement, people not having the usual holidays of choice so maybe not being fully recharged, the impact of viral infections colds may increase winter approaches.
· It was recognised there was a ‘new normal’ and staff had adopted skills which were interchangeable between home and office. Should a further lockdown ensue, staff would adopt an agile approach to be able to ‘flex-back’ to home working.
· The Commission took the opportunity to acknowledge and thank the council staff for the work that had been undertaken throughout the pandemic and the increasing pressure that had been placed upon them.
· It was recommended that the OSC to receive an annual update on situation and staff welfare.
That the Commission noted the report with the views expressed being acknowledged and documented by the officers. It was agreed that the Commission receives an annual update on staff welfare.