Agenda item

HR - Verbal update


A Stunell began by updating the committee that the new People Strategy scheme had been launched.  Similarly to P O’Day, she said that she would only go through some of the key action points. There was to be an ongoing review of the programme’s effectiveness. 


The first area is our Leading in Dacorum programme and mandatory training.  The intention was for it to be skills based training, supporting managers and for aspiring managers.  There is also a separate project with emphasis on coaching and mentoring, with the view to creating a wider coaching culture.  A Stunell confirmed that as part of this scheme, she was currently in the process of completing her own coaching qualification, which she completes in October. 


Alongside this, HR are in the process of moving forward with the Investors in People (IIP) accreditation.  DBC are currently on IIP 5, but are carrying out work to with a view to gaining the new standard IIP 6.  The strategic assessment for this is due to take place in March 2018.  A Stunell noted that this was quite expensive, at a cost of £13k.  She said that the cost of this needed to be considered against the work being done as part of the People Strategy that was being developed, and to weigh up the value. 


Councillor Chapman asked A Stunell whether the intention of the coaching training was a set plan or taking a more ‘ad hoc’ approach to supporting staff.  She re-iterated that she was currently working on her own coaching qualification; however there were only a limited amount of trained staff in the organisation.  She said that there was a support programme for internal coaching within year 2 of the programme.  They were currently looking at partnering with outside organisations such as Toyota in order to further develop the programme.  Councillor Chapman requested a copy of the People Strategy action plan. 


Councillor Taylor said that the development of aspiring managers must also be balanced against the need to develop all individuals within the council.  He also highlighted the importance of individuals taking responsibility of their own development, particularly long serving individuals.  A Stunell agreed. 


The appraisal scheme was also being reviewed as part of the People Strategy to ensure that it fitted the vision and values of DBC.  Matt Rawdon was leading on this project; consideration was being given to whether the system was fit for purpose? Did it motivate both managers and employees? Spot checks were being carried out on various managers’ appraisals to consider the general standard of them currently. 


A Stunell also highlighted an ongoing CMT strand, reviewing Workforce Data; this was to review key strategic trends in the workforce (e.g. turnover, sickness) to ensure that ongoing business needs were met. 


A Stunell said that Reward and Recognition was also being reviewed as part of the People Strategy; focusing in particular on the latter part.  As an example of this, she said that management was focusing on recognition of long service and retirement.  Currently when an individual retires this tended to be dealt with by the manager and team through a more informal process; however as part of the People Strategy, there was a view to making this more corporate. 


A Stunell noted the First Care Sickness Management system; she said that since adopting the system and working on the project, sickness absence had dropped by 20%.  She said that a formal review of the sickness absence policies was due to take place in May, However there were some issues with dates, therefore stakeholders were getting together to discuss these on 7 July. 


Councillor C Wyatt-Lowe asked if any benchmarking had been conducted as to DBC’s sickness absences against other local authorities.  A Stunell said that this was difficult as other local authorities did not process waste disposal, while DBC did, which had a key impact on sickness absence figures.  Councillor Wyatt-Lowe said that, if available, it would be useful to review sickness tables for DBC and other local authorities to compare.  A Stunell confirmed that she would send this information to the committee. 


Councillor Chapman asked where an employee was suffering from long term sickness, how often would that individual have to contact First Care – would they have to phone each day? A Stunell explained that an employee are required to contact First Care at the start and end of their absence and also if there are any changes or an original ‘fit note’ needed to be extended.  This would need to take place each and every time that this ‘fit note’ expired and needed to be extended. 


C Plested said that the unions felt that the sickness absence target of 8 days was not fair, particularly on individuals based at Cupid Green where work was more physically demanding.  The Unions felt that this target needed to be ‘eased off’.  A Stunell noted that the days lost is currently 7.  5 against a target of 8; she understood that all parties were in agreement about this target.  It was agreed that there would be an opportunity to discuss this matter further at the upcoming meeting. 


A Stunell updated the Committee on the Apprenticeship Levy programme.  She said that a great deal of work had gone into the project , and that the programme was at the procurement stage; DBC were currently waiting for Herts County Council to finish their part in the process, and that the allocated budget of £80k remained unspent.  The current proposal was to use the apprenticeship levy to fund upskilling current employees.  The committee questioned money being taken out of the apprenticeship fund; A Stunell explained that this budget could not be spent on salaries, but only on training; therefore this meant that there were issues with simply recruiting 16 apprentices, as future salaries could not be accounted for out of this budget. 


A Stunell noted the ongoing strand in respect of induction programmes; this included developing an electronic induction handbook.  Councillor Taylor made the observation that, as with the electronic copy of the Constitution on DBC’s website, an electronic copy as opposed to a hard copy ensured that employees always had access to the most up to date document, containing the current policies. 

C Plested highlighted a concern about individuals at Cupid Green who were unable to read and write; A Stunell confirmed that managers or HR were always available to support any such individuals with queries about the induction programme. 


A Stunell noted the ongoing positive working relationship with the trade union; She noted that Tina Boggins would be leaving in July, and commented that this would be a loss to all involved parties. 


A Stunell also noted that the People Strategy had ongoing strands to review DBC’s commitment to Equality and Diversity (with the view to achieving accreditation); DBC’s Terms & Conditions’, as well as the recruitment process.  A Stunell noted that where DBC were unable to recruit staff, they used Pertemps recruitment agency to provide any short term temporary cover.  Councillor Chapman asked if efforts were being made to reduce the use of temporary staff; A Stunell confirmed that this was a key aspect of the recruitment work stream. 


A Stunell also confirmed that DBC’s gender pay review must be published by March 2018 for April 2018.  She said that there were some issues with this, as Finance struggled to get the required information from the Payroll provider.  Councillor Chapman asked who this was, and A Stunell confirmed it was Serco. 


Councillor Chapman thanked A Stunell for the update.