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Agenda item

Quarterly Workforce Report

To receive the Quarterly Workforce Report for January – March 2023.


Michael Taylor, Workforce Insight Analyst, introduced the quarterly workforce report, with particular focus on sickness absence, employee turnover, and finance and salary costs.


It was highlighted that as mentioned in the previous report, Public Health experts had predicted a significant increase in flu and Covid variants over the winter months. Officers noted that Q3 and Q4 were considerably higher than expected for absences related to cold/flu and other seasonal influences, therefore supporting the Public Health experts’ predictions. As such, officers could use these predictions in the future to develop contingency plans and more preventative measures such as ensuring that more customer facing roles be targeted for flu jabs. However, Members were reassured that these increases did not affect the entire sickness rate across the Council which remained in line with national averages.


Employee turnover was then raised, and it was noted that the current job market was more candidate-driven, thus resulting in a surplus of jobs, but a shortage of top-tier candidates. In response to a question, officers noted that Wiltshire Council had received 125 work experience submissions, 70 of which had been matched with appropriate placements. Furthermore, all Wiltshire schools had access to the recruitment team, and officers from which attended employment days and job fairs across the County to advertise working at the Council. It was highlighted that it was an area of focus, however officers acknowledged that there was always scope for improvements.


During the discussion, members asked what methods were in place to reduce elements of workplace stress and consequently, reducing the amount of time that staff were on sick leave for. Officers highlighted that within the Council there were pockets of stress related absences, however it was emphasised that these specific stress areas were monitored and reviewed regularly with frequent staff engagement sessions to help support these members of staff. Furthermore, the annual Staff Survey data would be circulated to services shortly, which would again help to highlight any service areas that needed particular support. Following from this, Members suggested including a further breakdown of the data by department in the next workforce report to ensure the right areas were targeted for further support.


Members raised the drive to get staff back to working within the hubs and queried if this was conducive to inclusivity and if it was causing further stress and pressure to staff. In response, officers confirmed that the staff networks were seeking to re-establish the focus groups assigned to this topic, to review the current arrangement. At which point, any feedback gleaned would be reported back to the Committee.


Officers confirmed that all members of staff who have been signed off with stress or other related illnesses were immediately referred to Occupational Health. It was emphasised that staff could not be forced to engage with interventions such as counselling, however officers would liaise with the Occupational Health team to provide Members with further information such as the take-up rate for these opportunities.


Agency costs were then raised, and it was queried whether these would be reduced as a result of the new policy of deleting vacant posts. Officers explained that agency staff were only employed in certain areas of the Council. Furthermore, if the post was a temporary measure, then once the contract had reached its end, the relationship with the agency would cease and the post would be deleted. However, during the term of contract, the role would count as an established post. It was further explained that agency staff were predominantly required within Social Care when the need arose to fill statutory roles or ensure continuity of service, hence why there were levels of fluctuation throughout the year. It was also explained that the discrepancies apparent on the graphs within the report could be due to two to three high level roles skewing the figures. Members further noted that Wiltshire Council’s agency costs faired well in comparison to other neighbouring Council’s.




The Committee noted the update.


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