Agenda item

Agenda item


To receive a report (copy enclosed) from the Interim Head of Service: Human Resources on Recruitment, Retention and Workforce Planning.


10.10am – 10.45am


The Lead Member for Corporate Strategy, Policy and Equalities introduced the report (previously circulated) on Recruitment, Retention and Workforce Planning to Members.


The report provided information and progress of the workforce plan including recruitment and retention activities and also provided turnover and sickness absence data for 2022/2023.


A corporate workforce plan was agreed by the Council in January 2022 together with an Action Plan to address the agreed priorities. The plan and action plan were brought to Performance Scrutiny Committee in March 2022. The current report provided an update on the action plan’s progress.


A number of appendices were attached to the report including an internal audit report on the workforce planning to inform Members of capacity and resilience. The audit confirmed that there were robust initiatives and strategies in place to support the Corporate Workforce Plan. 


The Lead Member welcomed Officers in attendance to outline the key points of the report.


The Interim Head of Service: Human Resources (HR) stated that there were three topics highlighted within the report, these were Recruitment, Retention and Sickness Absence. Thanks was given to the Internal Audit Team for their Audit of the Workforce Plan and the recommendations from the Audit were welcomed.


An overview of the report was given to Members:-


·       Turnover statistics were provided in appendix 2 of the report (previously circulated). Turnover statistics were based on the number of leavers who leave an organisation. The organisations turnover figure was at the highest it had been in the last 6 years and was at 11.6%. However, this was still in line with average national UK figures.

·       Trends were in line with UK statistics.

·       Turnover of staff in certain departments was higher and these were being addressed by methods listed within the report.

·       The organisation was recruiting more staff than 12 months ago.

·       Recruitment was being undertaken in most departments however, some advertised posts were taking longer to recruit into than others.

·       The biggest area of focus for recruitment was in Social Care.

·       The organisation had conducted recruitment workshops and was looking at career grade progression for existing staff and where possible amendments were being considered in relation to terms and conditions.

·       The Interim Head of Service: HR was working with other Councils on a national basis to address pay issues with agency staff.

·       The HR team were tailoring their support to meet the needs of roles which included completing application forms and using the correct marketing tools to place adverts.

·       Local authority and UK wide best practice was being reviewed to ensure that the organisation were maximising recruitment opportunities.

·       Two barriers facing recruitment within the organisation were agile working and pay.  Local authority pay rates for some roles were below those for similar roles within other public bodies.  However, pay scales were agreed at a national level not on a local basis, therefore the Authority’s powers in relation to varying pay rates was extremely limited. 

The Interim Head of Service: HR continued and gave an overview of sickness absences to Members:-

·       The average days lost due to sickness in 2022/2023 was 9.5, which was a slight reduction on the previous year.

·       Denbighshire County Council remained one of the leading councils in Wales in managing absences.

·       There was a robust absence monitoring policy in place.

·       Personal stress of employees had decreased.

·       Absence due to COVID had remained one of the main reasons for absence over the last 12 months however, this was due to how data was recorded and isolation periods coming to an end.

·       Conversations on health and well-being were encouraged and occurred on a regular basis with mandatory 1:1 meetings in place for all employees within the organisation.

The Chair thanked the Interim Head of Service: HR for her report and questions were welcomed from Members.


The Corporate Director: Governance and Business informed Members that there was currently a difficult labour market and there were difficulties with recruitment within the organisation however, the organisation was recruiting and continued to use innovative and creative methods to address the issue. 


Members stated that the report highlighted the biggest issue facing all councils.


Members queried if a lack of business continuity planning for posts being vacant for long periods of time affected the handover of responsibilities to new staff.  The Interim Head of Service: HR stated that there was a succession plan in place and the HR team were talking with Heads of Service on a regular basis. It was not felt that the current recruitment and retention issues were having an effect on business continuity.

Members questioned if loss of experienced staff lead to loss of knowledge, as a new recruit would need time to build a sufficient knowledge base to enable them to undertake their role effectively.  The Corporate Director informed Members that statutory handovers had never been in place within the organisation however, as mentioned there were succession plans in place within departments.


Members questioned the timescale for when a post was advertised. For example, when a resignation was handed in, was the role advertised immediately. The Interim Head of Service: HR stated that when they received a resignation, the role would be advertised as soon as possible after considering if the role was still needed or could be amended.


At this juncture in the meeting the Chair invited David Stewart, Chair of Governance and Audit Committee to address the Committee. He informed Members that the Governance and Audit Committee had raised concerns regarding recruitment and retention within Children’s Service following on from the Care Inspectorate Wales report they received in October 2022. The report recognised the recruitment and retention difficulties within Children’s Services and the impact of this on service users. David Stewart stated that his Committee was particularly concerned about the impact of recruitment and retention on the governance of the Council as a whole.


The Chair thanked David Stewart for the Governance and Audit Committee’s comments.


Members questioned if the Agile Working Policy was working well within the organisation. The Interim Head of Service: HR informed Members that the organisation had been working in an agile manner for over 2 years, and the Agile Working Policy was put in place to give a more consistent approach in its application and guidance for employees and managers.


Members stated that the turnover of a workforce was a good thing as it allowed new people with new ideas to join the organisation however, it was the time and the cost to recruit new employees which was an ongoing issue.


Members stated that recruitment and retention was cited as one the main issues within many reports that they received and enquired whether there was a Recruitment and Retention Policy in place. Members also noted that resignations were one of the main reasons for employees leaving the organisation and questioned if there was data available on exit interviews to ascertain why people were leaving that they could be provided with.  The Interim Head of Service: HR informed Members that there was a Recruitment Policy in place however, following the internal audit, wording needed including in the policy relating to retention.  Referring to exit interviews, Members were informed that the organisation changed the way they conducted exit interviews 4 years ago. Exit interviews were not mandatory and were undertaken online by those employees leaving the authority who wished to complete them. Data was monitored from completed exit interviews however, the data was not deemed sufficiently reliable to bring to the Committee.


Stay surveys had been completed within departments of the organisation that were felt to be the most difficult to recruit, with the intention of promoting the benefits of working within that department in Denbighshire County Council.


The Chair thanked officers in attendance for their report and for attending the meeting.


At the conclusion of a comprehensive discussion the Committee:


Resolved:  subject to the above observations -


(i)             to confirm that it had read, understood and taken account of the information presented to it and supported the ongoing work in relation to monitoring staff turnover and absence;

(ii)           requested that a further report be presented to it in 12 months’ time detailing the progress made in relation to workforce planning, recruitment and retention and highlighting pressure areas; and

(iii)         that the Heads of Service for those services where staff recruitment and retention are proving to be a persistent challenge be invited to attend the meeting mentioned in (ii) above to discuss the potential impact of those challenges on service delivery and how they are addressing staff shortages in the short to medium term, until long-term solutions are found.






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