Note: It is permissible to make assumptions by adding to the case study details given below provided the essence of the case study is neither changed nor undermined in any way by what is added.
Oldbridge District Council (ODC) provides a range of local government services to a predominantly rural population of 75,000 people living in a market town and surrounding villages in the north of England. Chief responsibilities include council tax collection, refuse collection and recycling, the administration of housing benefit, planning matters and the promotion of tourism. The authority employs a total of 250 people, many of whom work on a part-time basis. There is a small HR team which consists of four people: a manager, two officers and an administrator. The HR manager, Lisa Porter, has recently taken up her position, having been promoted from her previous HR officer position.
Like all local government bodies, Oldbridge has had to make very substantial savings in recent years. Pay rises have been restricted to 1% for some years now, while strict restrictions on recruitment have been in operation. When staff leave or retire, they are not replaced unless a very strong business case can be made. The few recruits are being employed on temporary contracts. The financial situation will remain very challenging for the foreseeable future. So far redundancies have been avoided, but this may not be the case in the future as further cost savings are sought.
Soon after taking up her post, Lisa decided it was time to carry out a staff survey to establish levels of satisfaction and engagement among the staff. A confidential questionnaire was circulated with a consultant employed to analyse the results in a report. 75% of staff responded. Key metrics featured in the executive summary included the following:
- 65% look forward to going to work in the morning;
- 62% find their work to be rewarding, 13% enjoying it ‘greatly’;
- 43% are satisfied with the variety of work they are required to do;
- 80% feel valued and supported by their work colleagues, 55% by their line manager, but only 20% by senior managers;
- 70% are satisfied with their level of responsibility;
- 60% are satisfied with their physical work environment;
- 21% are satisfied with their pay and benefits, but no-one says they are ‘very satisfied’
- 55% are happy with their work life balance;
- 90% state their jobs have become increasingly stressful in recent years;
- 33% are satisfied with their training and development opportunities;
- 83% say their workload has increased in the past year;
- 70% are satisfied with their promotion opportunities;
- 15% say change is managed well by the council;
- 90% say that they ‘sometimes feel stressed’ when they are at work;
- 74% say they ‘feel safe’ at work;
- 88% are happy with the council’s equality and diversity practices;
- 28% are ‘listened to when they are at work’;
- 37% are satisfied with the ‘amount of discretion’ they are allowed to exercise in their jobs;
- 36% are happy with their job security;
- 27% say they feel their efforts at work are properly recognised;
- 54% are actively seeking alternative employment.
The Chief Executive Officer at Oldbridge Council asks Lisa to draw up some responses to the survey then to present her thoughts to him and his senior management team next week. He is particularly keen that the Council should soon be able to send an e-mail to all staff headed, ‘You Said, We Listened’, summarising management perceptions of the staff survey findings and setting out what practical steps it is intended should now be taken.
Lisa asks you for some written advice. Prepare a set of notes covering the tasks below:
1. Which 5 of the key findings from the survey should Lisa be most concerned about? Justify your answer, explaining why these findings are important in leading and managing people at work.
2. Using your answers to Q1, choose THREE initiatives which Lisa should develop immediately to improve the more concerning findings. Critically evaluate these suggested initiatives.
3. How should Lisa approach the task of drawing up the proposed, ‘You Said, We Listened’, e-mail including her main objectives? Justify your answers and include a draft of the email that Lisa should send.