FR/050/21 QUARTER 4 PERFORMANCE REPORT – PERFORMANCE, PEOPLE AND INNOVATION
LR was invited to talk about the performance in people and innovation. LR pointed out the key points are making sure employee sickness is monitored carefully, making sure the Council is aware of health and safety issues around any sickness and monitoring staff overall. LR was keen to commend the team on their drive to support health and wellbeing. 8 members of staff have been trained as Mental Health First Aid Workers and there has been funding from Hertfordshire’s Protection Board to help with health and wellbeing. Staff turnover remains low but there have been some new recruits. LR also commended the IT system that allowed working from home, noting the hard work the IT team had put in.
Website users are slightly down from the previous quarter but up from the previous year, the amount of portal users has gone up. So customers are able to make online work for them.
Questions and Answers:
Cllr Adeleke asked whether additional IT staff had to be employed and what the plan is for returning to the office. It was noted that additional IT staff hadn’t been employed but instead of looking at a mix of ‘service requests’ and ‘incidents’ during the pandemic, output from the IT team had been more focused on ‘incidents’ which was a fire fighting approach and isn’t a sustainable approach for the future. This means that resource may need to be looked at so that ‘service requests’ become more part of the everyday work.
In terms of getting back to the office there is a transformation programme, and the date of Monday 27th September is when the Council is proposing for the return to the office for staff. LR noted there is a desire for the Council to embrace hybrid working as well as working within the communities, so not being office-based all the time. LR explained that the second floor of the building will be for fixed desk stations for those working in the office. Meeting rooms will then be enhanced to allow for hybrid meetings. The second floor will also include collaborative areas. There will be quiet workspace corners and a wellness area for people to get away from their screens with bistro seating in the kitchens as well to allow for social interaction. The red zone will have a ‘touch down’ area which will be for people who are in between meetings, or who need a workspace for a short amount of time before their next appointment.
To deal with the new layout of the building, signage is important so people can see where teams are located. LR hopes this will empower people with the way they’re working.
Cllr Adeleke asked whether the requirement is that people will be in having a gradual return or a hard date for their return to the office. LR explained that everyone has had a different approach to working in the pandemic. It’s important to get workers into the communities. There has been a briefing for management looking at the needs of different teams in the office. The shift into the new configuration will be from 27th September and that will happen all at once.
The Chair asked whether the amount of mental health incidents rose or were the same during the pandemic. LR didn’t see an increase but did note that it was a reflection on society that people are more aware of mental health issues. More work is needed to understand general mental health and managers are encouraged to interact and connect with their staff. Those members of staff who engage with harrowing calls also have counselling available to them.
The Chair asked what the Council was doing digitally as a result of the pandemic that it hadn’t been doing previously. It was stated that the Council is looking at new technologies. Data is really important and needs to be seen as an asset by the Council. Currently there are many different systems and the future is about getting those systems linked and interacting with each other. Another focus is automation through robotic automation, instead of having a website trigger a process for an officer that process needs to be automated in the future.
The report was noted.