Transformation - Workforce news, November 2014

The November edition of Workforce News looks at what work is happening locally in councils and nationally at the LGA on successfully transforming our local government services and workforce.

Luann Donald speaks to Sarah Messenger, the Head of Workforce, and Philip Bundy, Senior Employment Law Adviser, about how councils are redefining themselves and their cultures, behaviours and workers.  And we hear from MJ Award winning Cheshire West & Chester Council about the excellent work they are doing with their workforce on leadership and behavioural change to overcome financial and other challenges to redefine local government in their community.  

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Podcast transcript

Luann Donald, Senior Workforce Adviser, LGA
(Time: 00:13 – 01:10)
Hi and welcome to our autumn edition of Workforce News, our topic today is a word that's on every council leader's lips - Transformation. And you might be wondering why we're talking about that, what's new about that? Well nothing really there's nothing new about all the different models of delivery that we've been talking about for years, but councils have been telling us that this has been taking up a lot of their time, so we thought that we'd look at what's happening with transformation and what it means for the workforce and we want to look at it in slightly different terms than our normal TUPE or changing terms and conditions and we want to look at what makes the change happen. So we're going to look at some of the opportunities and some of the barriers to what's making the change and the transformation a success. And today we've got Sarah Messenger here our Head of Workforce to talk to us about what's happening out there and what work LGA's doing on this. Sarah every councils seems to be involved in some form of transformation, can you tell us about some of the changes you've seen in councils?

Sarah Messenger, Head of Workforce, LGA
(Time: 01:11 – 02:31)
There's a huge amount going on at the moment Luann, lots of examples that I could share, but let me just pick out a couple for you. There's some interesting work going on in Camden at the moment, where they're looking at systems analysis and really deconstructing the way that systems are put together. Some interesting work in Lambeth where they're looking at the role of a commissioner and they're thinking carefully about the skills you need in order to commission services properly and effectively. And of course there's work in the tri-boroughs in London which is shared services, but it's shared services on a scale that we've not really seen anywhere else in the country. So lots of interesting and innovative stuff going on in councils as is always the case. And I think what's important is that they're really focused on making sure that this is about the service users, the person who gets the service and their experience rather than simply rather than on their organisational structure and processes. And from a workforce point of view, this obviously means lots of thinking and work going on around culture change, around integration, leadership as ever, but also thinking about how councils can help to build capacity within communities so rather than just thinking about organisational development within the council, thinking about capacity to deliver services within communises and across a whole place.

Luann Donald, Senior Workforce Adviser, LGA
(Time: 02:32 – 02:37)
So Sarah this is a really different way of thinking about services, so what are the big changes this means for the Workforce?

Sarah Messenger, Head of Workforce, LGA
(Time: 02:37 – 03:56)
One of the big changes it means is people will be carrying out different roles and will need different skills. That's not true for the whole workforce, but I think certainly we'll be looking for people who have got particular skills around networking, we'll be looking for people who can broker partnerships and different arrangements, we'll be looking for system analysts. So those sorts of new skills and new roles is certainly going to be a factor that influences the workforce. We will also want to build, I think on the excellent work that's been done by the University of Birmingham, where they've looked at what the 21st Century Public Servant is, and again they've looked at that from the point of view of roles and skills, it's also going to mean continuing to develop new and productive and effective leadership models. We know that the days of command and control have largely come to an end. That's a good thing, what that means is we need leaders and managers, who can empower people, who can work collaboratively, and who can really get the best out of the people that they're responsible for, some of whom may not be directly within their own structures. So they need to be able to manage across functions and in some cases across sectors.

Luann Donald, Senior Workforce Adviser, LGA
(Time: 03:57 – 04:04)
Sarah I know that the LGA workforce team spend a lot of their time working to support councils on tier transformation activities, can you tell us, what have you been doing?

Sarah Messenger, Head of Workforce, LGA
(Time: 04:05 – 05:22)
One of thing that we're about to launch in the autumn, which I hope will be really helpful to councils is some pensions guidance which is some practical information, to help councils when they're looking at how and when they design and deliver services, when they are looking at outsourcing or partnership working, or perhaps the use of social enterprises. There's always some big pensions questions. So the pensions team within the LGA have put together some really helpful guidance that will be available soon, that will help councils think through the pensions Implications. And we've also run again the successful events we did last year with the PPMA and SOLACE. We've done them again this year in London, Leeds and Birmingham. Bringing people from councils together to hear from a range of speakers on this agenda, but also to give them a chance to network and to share information, share ideas and of course share problems and challenges, because as yet there are many, many unanswered questions. But councils have certainly told us that one of the things they really want is an opportunity to share and learn with each other, not to run around doing things three hundred and odd times over, if there's one good way of doing it, but also to always respect the fact that councils need to make their own decisions about what's right for them and right for their local communities.

Luann Donald, Senior Workforce Adviser, LGA
(Time: 05:23 – 05:27)
Thank you Sarah. Now we're going to hear from a council who've been doing innovative things on transforming their workforce.

Sam Brousas, Head of Professional Services, Cheshire West and Chester Council.
(Time: 05:38 – 10:22)

What are the major changes you are making in your council and how is it affecting your workforce?
As part of our growth priority for example, we're developing a far more commercial, business friendly culture in the council. We're investing about £330 million pounds in a massive capital investment programme over the next couple of years, I would say that's one big change. Secondly we are really trying to redesign our services around the customer and we're doing this with flatter structures, with services based in localities and with real integration with partners. Thirdly and I think the thing which has a massive impact on staff is that we've been taking every single service through a process where we're holding a mirror up to the service and saying, not only should we still be delivering this service in this way, but actually who is best to deliver it? Is it us in the council. or is it an external partner or a mixture? So this has resulted in lots of new service delivery models for us. For example we have a shared service with a neighbouring council, which was floated off as a separate legal entity. We've got a public services mutual, and now we're planning a joint venture with the private sector for some other services. So it has been a huge journey of change and it's still ongoing. I think obviously some people in the workforce embrace this sort of change because it offers them lost of possibilities, but other pole are understandably very worried about it and we can't guarantee job security any more in the current climate. We can't guarantee that there's a job for  life within the council, so what we've been saying instead is to staff is that we guarantee that you will be employable somewhere within the West Cheshire family of partners.

How are you supporting your staff to both behave and deliver services differently?
Culture change doesn't happen overnight, so we've had a major culture change programme over the past couple of years to communicate and support different values and behaviours, so we can achieve our vision of having a very high performing council, which puts the customer at the centre. We want to be very responsive, innovative, collaborative and less risk adverse than in the past. So to do this, our culture change programme, which involves many people at different levels, but is championed by the Chief Exec, attempts to align all our organisational elements, things like pay and reward, training, all our policies and procedures, the communications strategy, the structures, leadership strategies, everything aligned so that we're facing towards the desired culture and everything is mutually supportive. So to give you a couple of examples, in the past our increment rewards system was time-served in common with many councils and we felt that wasn't supporting a high performing culture, so we've changed that so that increments are now awarded based on performance and contribution. Another example is our communications strategy, it's now very clearly linking everything together so that people understand that everything that we do fits in with our values and our vision for the future, so everything's mutually supportive.

What are senior managers and members doing to support these changes?
Members and the leadership team generally, really understand the importance of role modelling values and behaviours. One thin g we've done to support this is to get everyone to write their own leadership pledges around our leadership values of ambition, accountability and team respect and these pledges have all been published to staff. We also had some feedback in a staff survey in 2012 that the leadership team wasn't visible enough, so you can't be a very good role model if your not actually visible to staff, so they have been getting out and about to staff events. We've had back to the floor days, open door surgeries and so on. We've also paced a very strong focus on behaviours, outcomes and accountability, through the performance management system, so it's not just about telling people what they need to do in order to achieve their outcomes, it's about talking to them about how they do it in terms of their behaviour. And I think it's working, change doesn't happen overnight, cultural change does take a long time. But the culture has really evolved in the past couple of years and we're seeing that through the outcomes. And a recent IIP assessment we had, said that our staff engagement strategy and practices are gold standard and having a real impact.

Luann Donald, Senior Workforce Adviser, LGA
(Time: 10:23 – 10:43)
Thank you, that was really interesting. And now we've got Phil Bundy here with us to talk us through some of the more practical issues on our workforce from the transformation. Phil an important part of this transformation is to get staff moving between the sectors, and this goes beyond just a simple matter of the TUPE technicalities, but there are some issues around this, can you talk us through those?

Philip Bundy, Senior Employment Law Adviser, LGA
(Time: 10:44 – 11:56)
Sure, what I'm thinking about here is voluntary moves, were people move across from local government to say the NHS or vice-versa and the issue her is if they move in that way then they won't keep their continuity of service when you're looking at things like holiday entitlement but also for any future redundancy pay entitlements as well. Now this has become more of an issue since the public health services have transferred to us with these staff, and of course they came from the NHS and we're now needing to work with the NHS and Public Health England on public health stuff, and the point is, staff generally want to stay within those PAT, NHS or local government sectors rather than move across them, because if they stay within their own sector i.e. local government, then their contractual benefits are preserved through the Green Book conditions and also their redundancy pay is preserved through the Statutory Modification Order arrangements. And similar things apply for the health service as well, so what we've got is the situation where people want to stay within their sector, 'cause if the move outside to a different sector, local government or the health service, they end up losing those contractual benefits that they've built up as well as any potential redundancy entitlements.

Luann Donald, Senior Workforce Adviser, LGA
(Time: 11:57 – 12:04)
So clearly we're really keen to get that flexibility and get the right people, doing the right job with the right skills, so what's the LGA doing to try and resolve this?

Philip Bundy, Senior Employment Law Adviser, LGA
(Time: 12:05 – 13:07)
Well back in August along with Public Health England we published some guidance on managing these multidisciplinary, cross-sector teams and in that we set out four options for the ways, that potentially service could be recognised when these type of moves take place. Now I'm not going to go through all four of those now, but what we do have is one option that we're looking to take forward pretty quickly, which is that there's a national recommendation from the NJC in our case, that local authorities recognise service from PHE from health service bodies when they're looking at contractual benefits such as holiday and vice-versa, we'd be looking for the same sort of national commitment from health bodied and Public Health England. It's not just about contractual benefits though, of course there's the redundancy pay entitlements, where service is preserved through statutory mechanism and the Modification Order, so one of the other options is actually looking and seeing if we can get the law changes so that service can be recognised between local government and health service bodies when your looking t redundancy entitlements.

Luann Donald, Senior Workforce Adviser, LGA
(Time: 13:08– 13:10)
So we're looking to change the law, well that's more complex, what happens next?

Philip Bundy, Senior Employment Law Adviser, LGA
(Time: 13:11 – 14:16)
Well what we're doing is we're speaking to the Cabinet Office, 'cause ultimately they would be the driver behind much of this 'cause we need to co-ordinate stuff between our DLG and the health service, Department of Health and we also need to ensure there's consistency of treatment across public services to ensure different sectors of the service don't get different treatment when we're looking at things like the Modification Order. But in doing that , in order to get this change through, you've got an argument to make that actually enabling this cross sector change through this type of legislative changes is an essential building block for building the new public sector workforce. Now in doing that what we've been doing is speaking to the local authorities already and saying what do you think about these proposals and there's a lot of encouragement from them, saying we want you to go ahead and look at getting these changes made, but we'd welcome more support and comments from local authorities on our proposals and they can find that in the guidance that I mentioned was published back in August. So what we want really is for  authorities to look at that, let us know what they think about these changes and then we can help build that into our arguments to the Cabinet Office, that this change really is needed.

Luann Donald, Senior Workforce Adviser, LGA
(Time: 14:17 – 14:37)
Thank you Phil, that was really useful and sounds like you've got a busy time ahead of you. You can find Phil's guidance and all the information Sarah talked about on our website. And as always if you've any questions or any feedback on the topics we've covered today, you can contact us on our email address which is