Hello PPMA members and friends

Dr Carlton Brand is Corporate Director at Wiltshire Council and he believes that change must work for the people we serve in order to be effective …and HR is vital to this.

“Local government is changing at a rapid rate. Fundamental changes to public service policy, revisions to our strategic direction encompassing greater collaboration across the sectors, devolution, outsourcing (or insourcing), new models of service delivery, rapid development of technology and digital service provision, coupled to significant reductions in expenditure which require every employee to re-evaluate their role, their thinking, their abilities, capabilities, learning and what drives them. It’s change on a massive scale and of an order that I never experienced in twenty years in the private sector in the highly competitive and change-driven automotive industry. This is very exciting. And scary.

At the centre of this change are our people. Our people need to be well led, expertly managed, nurtured and developed to not only thrive in this new world, but above all to be set free to innovate and be able to make the changes we need to see. If you believe that our people are our most important asset, then HR have a lead role and are the guardians of that asset.

As guardians of our people, we need far more from HR than the traditional focus on employment law, policy, structure, contracts, recruitment, and overarching industrial relations however safe that made us feel. We need professional leadership of service and organisation transformation and delivery: development of people, the people culture change associated with new and innovative service delivery models, leadership and management development which moves from command and control to empowerment, learning, coaching, mentoring and above all innovation and risk taking. We need new and modern retention strategies tailored to a new generation who have fundamentally different expectations of their employer, place of work, working hours, leaders, line management and colleagues.

In Wiltshire we have such an HR team. Over the last few years, the team have led and delivered innovation and business change in many areas allowing significant improvements in front line service performance, whilst reducing our costs. Specific examples include:

  • Use of the human synergistics OCI/OEI culture measurement and change approach has enabled economic development and planning to first of all understand their current culture and approach to service and then to fundamentally change their relationship with their customers and within the team to deliver front line service improvements of 25% whilst reducing costs by 30%.
  • An innovative approach to the tricky problem of recruiting and retaining social workers whereby 80 permanent staff have been recruited over nine months with a modern digital approach to recruitment aimed squarely at our target audience. This has been reinforced with a modern, competitive employment offer moving away from salary and to a total reward approach including modern facilities, latest technology, flexible working, fixed caseloads, and an innovative continuing professional development offer which starts immediately on joining the organisation and continues throughout an individual’s career.
  • Workforce data and analysis has never been better. Managers have detailed data and full work flow analysis at the click of mouse covering all aspects of their staffing, salary budgets, on line appraisals, on line recruitment and assessment.

All of the above is underpinned by our behaviours framework; an organic set of values and behaviours by which we recruit, develop and operate and which rewards the approach the councillors and staff have agreed are the important ingredients for a high performing 21st century public body.

By any measure, the impact of HR on front line change and transformation is fundamental to everything we do.”

Dr Carlton Brand is Corporate Director
of Wiltshire Council