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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 21/05/2002
Year Three (2002/03) Fundamental Service Review of the Personnel Service Scoping Report

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[Wards Affected: N/A]

Summary and Purpose

This report sets out the framework for the review of Personnel Services. The resource implications, at this time, are related to the need for some additional staffing resources to support the review process. The need will be met from the existing budget for “Best Value” reviews. There are no direct environmental implications arising from this report


1. The Personnel function is concerned, in the main, with having effective systems to ensure that the Council has a continuing availability of committed staff who are knowledgeable and skilled to meet the organisation’s requirements. Its aim is to have in place policies and procedures that are focused on modernising and improving Waverley’s approach to the productivity of staff. Within that is the part that the Council’s appraisal system plays in performance management and delivering improvement to which the District Auditor has previously referred.

2. The aim of this review is to test how effectively continuous improvement is supported by both the performance management and human resources infrastructure, although it will also consider issues that are specific to the Personnel function.

The Scope of the Fundamental Service Review for Personnel and Training

3. The role of the Personnel Service is to implement the Council’s “Human Resources” Strategy and “Training and Development” Strategy. The service is provided “in-house” but makes extensive use of outside providers, as indicated below:-
4. Personnel (including health and safety at work) and training is a support service that contributes to achieving all of the Council’s corporate objectives, including securing continuous improvement and achieving Investors In People.

5. The service objective is to help shape the direction of the organisation for the better performance of the Council’s functions, to help the Council to make the best use of staffing resources and to ensure a continuous supply of appropriately qualified, experienced and motivated employees. The aim is to enable the Council to achieve its corporate objectives in the most efficient and effective manner.

6. The scope of the review will cover all functions of the Personnel and Training Service, including the appraisal system.

How The Service Performs

7. Personnel Service local performance indicators measure the responsiveness of the service in its recruitment activity. The standards set are high and are being achieved. However, the recruitment market is very competitive and continuous improvement is essential in order to ensure that the service delivers its purpose. E-recruitment needs to be developed, particularly to help attract young applicants.

8. The Council has not, in the past 5 years, had to deal with any formal complaints at Employment Tribunals. Prior to that, there has been only one case within the knowledge of current staff. The Council has a good record of avoiding industrial disputes and there has been only very limited use of the internal disputes resolution processes (discipline and grievance procedures and dignity and respect at work policy and procedures).

9. Feedback from staff during the Year 2 review of communications raised a few issues regarding staff morale and organisational effectiveness, which this review can help to address. A benefit of best value, particularly noted at managerial level, is improved communication. However, the feedback forms part of a longitudinal study that points to the need to continue improving internal communications. The staff feedback also makes some pointed comments about the effectiveness of the appraisal system.

10. The Personnel Service regularly compares its performance with the other district councils in Surrey and the County Council. The number of staff employed in the service is not exceptional but recent comparisons show an interesting disparity. Waverley's turnover of staff has been amongst the lowest in the county yet its expenditure on recruitment advertising is amongst the highest.

11. The service also has participated in the EP First Saratoga “benchmarking” network that, as the network grows with support from the Society of Personnel Officers in Local Government (SOCPO) and South East Employers, will enable quick and accurate comparisons with local authorities across the country.

Best Value Service Reviews - what we know from earlier inspections

12. The Council’s approach to “diversity” will continue to be a significant feature of inspections.

13. Picking up on reviews of the Personnel function in other local authorities, a significant number have concluded that there is value in bringing together the Personnel and Payroll functions.

Service Developments

14. On a corporate front there is a need to consider:-

the effectiveness of the role that the Personnel function plays in organisational development and systems and business design; the people impact of e-Government and Personnel support to IEG; the progression towards the “Investors in People” award

15. The principal areas for development within the Personnel Service are the:-

resourcing of the Personnel function; updating and review of the Waverley “Conditions of Employment”; ongoing review and updating of the Human Resources Strategy and the Training and Development Strategy; development of policies on both equality of opportunity in employment and in service delivery into effective practices; development of an Occupational Health Strategy for Waverley which will include the Council’s Health and Safety responsibilities; completion of a comprehensive absence management system; completion of the implementation of the Personnel Information System; development of e-recruitment; and development of the “Company Transport Plan” for Waverley (in conjunction with Environmental Services);

Financial Resources Personnel and Training:-
This is the total estimated cost of the service including salary costs and training budget.

Staff Resources

16. The Personnel and Training Service is provided by:-

The Head of Personnel and Central Services The Principal Personnel and Training Officer 1.4 FTE Personnel Officers 2 FTE administrative staff

Fundamental Service Review Team

17. The independent Chief Officer who will lead this Team is David January, Director of Housing. Membership of the Team will be agreed as soon as practicable.

Service Review Group

18. The proposed Service Review Group for this review is as follows:-

Richard Wood - Head of Personnel Services Anne Bott - Assistant Chief Executive David Fannin - Corporate Best Value Officer Linda John - Principal Personnel and Training Officer Wendy Gane - Personnel Officer Jenny Deaves - Personnel Officer Sally Gorton - Administration Officer Keith Allen - Health and Safety and Emergency Planning Officer Staff Side Rep’ - to be confirmed External Critical Friend - to be confirmed Mark Hill, Internal Audit Manager and Richard Belcher, Senior Accountant, are assigned to advise the Service Review Group as necessary.


19. It is anticipated that the review will be completed by the end of February 2003 with reports to the Executive and Council in March 2003. The review is split into two key phases.

20. The first phase involves planning and information gathering. It is anticipated that this phase will be completed by the end of September 2002. The second phase involves analysis of the information gathered, identifying how the services can be improved and preparing the final report and recommendations.
q Establishing Members’ views about the services;

q Consulting those who deliver and are affected by the services;

q Gathering performance data;

q Defining and mapping existing practices and procedures;

q Benchmarking;

q Testing the strengths and weaknesses of the service using the Excellence Model and other means;

q Challenging current practices and procedures and investigating alternative ways of providing the services. q Analysis of the findings; q Identifying options for change; q Consulting on options for change, as necessary; q Preparing the final report, recommendations and improvement plan.


21. A major part of the review will be to define the overall scope of the service setting out in full the existing practices and procedures. Specific consideration will be given to the following questions:-

22. A “Challenge Workshop” for the Personnel staff held in April 2002 has begun to answer these questions.


23. The EP First Saratoga benchmarking exercise carried out in 2001 will be evaluated and further comparisons will be made with other local authorities (through Surrey

Personnel Officers Group benchmarking exercise and South East Employers). The aim will also be to identify a private sector comparator to help identify how efficient and effective the service is and to identify best practice.


24. Users of the service, both internal and external stakeholders, will be identified and in each case a consultation process, adapted to the characteristics of particular groups of stakeholders will be devised. Stakeholders include job applicants, recruitment/advertising agencies, managers and staff of the Council and the Councillors. Some work has already taken place in the area of recruitment and training and this will be developed.


25. This part of the review will involve assessing alternative ways of commissioning the service. The cost effectiveness of the current service will be balanced against service demands and requirements for quality and performance. The aim is to show competitiveness against alternative ways of providing the service in terms of cost and perceived quality. It is recognised that significant elements of the service are currently carried out by external providers.

Links to other Reviews

26. Personnel and Training potentially relate to all Fundamental Service Reviews in the five-year review programme.

Human Rights Implications

27. The principles within the Convention on Human Rights relate closely with the activities of the Personnel functions. Of particular relevance are:-

Article 6 - Right to a fair trial

Article 8 - Right to respect for private and family life

Article 9 - Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

Article 10 - Freedom of expression

Article 11 - Freedom of assembly and association

Article 14 - Prohibition of discrimination

Article 17 - Protection of Abuse of Rights

Community Safety Implications

28. The following factors have been identified in relations to the impact of this report as part of the section 17 requirements of the Crime and Disorder act 1998:-

The resourcing of relevant functions in Waverley that are involved in community safety and the development of staff.

Resource/Environmental Implications

29. The day-to-day Personnel Service is largely reactive and workloads are not necessarily predictable. Comparisons already made show that the Personnel Function is resourced at the minimum.

30. Realistically, a fundamental service review such as this will require significant additional effort. It is essential that the service continues to operate normally during the review with no inconvenience to customers. However, sufficient staff time will need to be given to the review to ensure that it is as rigorous as the Best Value regime requires. To ensure that the provision of Recruitment Selection and Training are not disrupted during this Best Value Review, additional resources will be necessary to undertake this review. A request has been made for 8,000 to be made available from the “Best Value” budget to recruit some temporary support to assist with the review process.

31. Due to the confidential nature of the service under review, where practicable and to ensure impartiality and openness, the consultation process with Managers and staff, will be carried out by external consultants.

32. There are no direct environmental implications.

"Opportunities for All" Implications

33. This review will cover the diversity question and will support the Council’s decision to work towards equality of opportunity for all staff.


It is recommended that the Committee endorses the approach to the Fundamental Service Review of Personnel Services and commends to the Executive that the focus for attention should be the activities set out in paragraphs 14 and 15 of this report.

Background Papers (CEx)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.


Name: Richard Wood Telephone: 01483 523387
E-mail: rwood@waverley.gov.uk