Hello PPMA members and friends
Earlier this week The MJ published an article by our President Gordon McFarlane, In it he talks about the challenges facing our profession in the coming months. It’s an important and thought-provoking article and we thought that we would re-share it as a blog post.
Finally, we had proper break. We at last had the opportunity this summer to take some uninterrupted downtime after enduring two years of interruptions, stress and enforced change.
Time out gives us all a much-needed opportunity to recharge and reflect. As I have done that, it has become clear that come the autumn a new wave of people challenges are ready to test the resilience of individuals, teams and organisations as a whole.
It is also clear that the HR teams in local authorities will be key to mitigating their impact and navigating a path through what could easily a winter of discontent.
The great hiring crunch
The first and biggest challenge we face is getting the right people in the right jobs to deliver our services.
The scarcity of people and combination from the likes of Amazon, local supermarkets or neighbouring councils means the labour market is white hot and employees and candidates have more choice than ever. Pay is clearly is a factor, but local government careers can offer many wider benefits which help us compete.
Whether it is in the hours of work, locations, flexibility, careers paths or training, or the positive impact on people’s lives, local authority jobs and careers can still offer something outstanding and different and we have to be on the front foot when it comes to marketing ourselves.
Financial wellbeing and the cost of living
Of course, we can’t get away from pay altogether. The rising cost of living is taking chunks out of everybody’s monthly budget. A surprisingly good pay offer for 2022/23 has just been made by the local government national employers which could change the landscape.
But a tough winter means we need to be ready to support people facing financial stress. Organisations which don’t already provide access to financial wellbeing resources should consider what they can put in place now. Benefits teams can step up the communication of the range of non-salary benefits which might provide additional support to people, or even review what is on offer to ensure the proposition is aligned to what people need. Financial stress may impact job performance, for which managers will need guidance.
A third challenge will come from the need to rewire the way we operate as we face the greatest financial challenges in a decade. While we have shown in the pandemic that we do transformation and reorganisation at pace, we have to anticipate and respond to the impact this will have on the wellbeing, retention and engagement of our people.
Hybrid working is the fourth area where HR teams need to take stock and plan ahead. The shift to remote working has, in some job roles, give organisations the opportunity to compete more widely for talent, reduce expensive office space and work more flexibly. But how many organisations have thought consider the long-term impact on culture, whether leaders and managers have the tools they need to support teams effectively in the new environment and whether the organisation and the employee are getting what they need now and in the future? HR and OD teams are key to ensuring that these challenges are addressed
The last concern is the ability to map the kind of people, roles and skills which will support the future target operating models which will support automation and transformation. Organisational design and HR knowledge will be a critical to the successful transformation of services which can unlock savings, increase productivity, making change stick.
In conclusion, the people agenda is a significant one, but there are a number of connecting points. For example, pay, reward and hybrid working have an intrinsic link to recruitment and retention, culture has a huge impact on wellbeing, and workforce planning will be a vital tool in change and transformation.
When we return to our desks after the summer, it will be leaders who seek out and then deploy the knowledge of their HR teams who will find their organisations best placed to find ensuring solutions to the challenges that lie ahead.