Employee research in a changing council

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Here’s some info on our approach to employee research at Kirklees Council.

Like most Local Authorities we’re shorter on resources than before; there are fewer officers to do the work and less money to spend on it.  We recognise that as we work our way through uncertainty it’s more important than ever to listen to our employees, and use this evidence to help make decisions about how we work.

Constant change, and the uncertainly it brings, affects people differently.  Our staff tell us that senior managers need to be strong leaders, sharing clear and consistent messages with all our staff (never easy when there’s over 8000 of us).

Over the last three years we have developed our Pulse Survey – it’s now quick and easy for employees to share their views, and it’s responsive to the organisation’s needs.  We deliver it in house and ask for views around twice a year on whatever is most relevant at the time.  We’ve used it to understand staff views in areas like how we’re managing change, our New Council, and feeling valued.

We now support staff to take part in different ways, and have increased response rates from 25% at the start up to 31% taking part in 2015.  While it started out as a quick online survey for office based staff, it’s grown to include other ways to take part, helping those without computer access to get involved.  We now distribute paper copies to a range of buildings (including over 100 school kitchens for the catering staff!) and use touchscreen kiosks in our big depots, to try to catch our dispersed, out and about workers.  Some methods have had more success than others but we learn by trying..

We’ve now analysed over 12,000 pulse responses, helping us better understand how to support staff in challenging times, how best to communicate with our directorates and what employees need from their managers.

We’ve also run some staff focus groups in the last few months, with one set specifically to understand how our workers could make use of a possible new staff benefit scheme, and another to dig deeper behind the pulse survey results.  Recruiting to them was challenging, but those that came along told us they enjoyed the opportunity to discuss their ideas and meet a new group of colleagues.

Findings from this research have helped secure an agreement from Kirklees and the other local authorities we’re working with, to do some market testing and explore the possibilities of benefits schemes further.

We listen to our employees in other ways too – team briefings, online blogs, face to face meetings with our Directors..  How’s employee research looking where you work, what have you got planned for the rest of 2016?

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