Council workforce information

Questions asked by Yvette Williams and Amanda Beckles

After the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Kensington and Chelsea Council recognised the need for change, better decision making, and greater transparency. We therefore commissioned an independent study of how the Council can ensure an effective decision-making and scrutiny system from the Centre for Public Scrutiny. In addition, we have examined how we work as an organisation and how are staff are managed. 

We are committed to generating substantial change across the Council and its organisation. Included within this change is the need for us to revise the behaviours, attitudes and values that underpin the day to day activities of our staff. Following the proper implementation of these changes the Council’s website will be updated accordingly.

The Council publicises a range of workforce information annually on its website (following presentation at the Council’s Executive and Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee). You can view the latest report:

Council Workforce Report 2017

We will publish the report for 2017/18 in the Autumn, and will follow this up with an action plan.

In publishing the workforce information, the Council complies with its duty arising from the Equality Act 2010 to publish data and information on a range of diversity indicators.Information on ‘protected characteristics’ (as defined by the Equality Act) is collected through the Council’s HR IT system.Candidly, the Council’s back office Human Resources (HR) systems (secured jointly with Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham some years ago) proved to be less than supportive to best practice.We are currently involved, alongside the other two authorities, in implementing a new HR system.Under the new arrangements staff will provide information of their ethnicity, disability, marital status, religion or belief and sexual orientation directly onto the system.Age and gender information is collected at the recruitment stage.From April 2015 staff have also been able to record (where relevant) information about gender re-assignment.

In the last year there have been significant changes in the Council, with a large number of staff engaged on short term contracts and a significant expansion in overall employee numbers including the transferring into the Council of staff from the Tenant Management Organisation. We have identified as a priority the need to improve the data quality on our workforce: this will be supported by the move to a new HR system later in the year which will allow employees to check and update this sensitive data themselves. The launch of the system will allow us to promote this again to staff. 

We have already begun an internal campaign, on the Council’s Intranet, to encourage staff to enter their equalities data/personal information. We have done so in partnership with relevant Trade Unions to maximise response and coverage.

We recognise the Council’s obligation under the public sector equality duty to use the data analysis we have on our workforce and service users to:

  • publish our equality objectives at least every 3 years – some on workforce and some on services
  • consult our workforce and service users on what these are and share our analysis
  • do an equalities impact assessment on all our policies/service changes – this goes beyond the workforce to all Council services.

As part of the Council’s culture change programme and our new Council values (see below), we will be addressing the Council’s obligations in this area, working with the Council’s staff and our residents to publish our objectives and assess all our policies, procedures and services in accordance with the Council’s obligations.

Staff turnover at the Council in 2017/18 was 16.9 per cent. This means that last year almost one in every six staff left the Council’s employment. This is broadly similar to previous years. The Council, like many London Boroughs, does experience a relatively high turnover of staff in some roles but it also has a significant number of staff who have worked for the authority for many years. Of the 32 Councils in London, Kensington and Chelsea had the seventh highest turnover of staff last year.

In respect of turnover of staff at various levels within the organisation, the following table for the last financial year shows that turnover was broadly similar regardless of management levels:

LevelNumber of staff 2017-18Turnover 2017-18
Level 11,15916.9%
Level 2 (supervisory)30018.0%
Level 3 (management)17916.2%
Level 4 (senior managers / heads of service)6418.7%
Level 5 (director)1216.7%

Of the 297 leavers in the last year, approximately one third were for reasons other than resignation, principally voluntary redundancy and retirement.

All staff who are leaving can request exit interviews: in practice few do so. However, managers are encouraged to ask employees if they want an exit interview and then use insight from these to make changes in ways of working. Where there are corporate equalities issues arising, managers are expected to raise these with HR. The Council has recognised that much more could be done to improve the collection of information arising from exit interviews. We will be working on revised procedures to embed this in the organization.

All HR policies and procedures are currently being reviewed as part of the change to a new HR and finance system in late 2018, including a new people strategy, reviewing our diversity policy and our equality objectives, which will be published this year. 

The recent restructure of the Senior Executive Team involved line management changes aimed at simplifying the previous senior management structure and creating robustness and flexibility at executive director and director level in order to improve accountability and delivery. These changes will improve the consistent management of staff and staffing issues across the authority.

As this only resulted in a change of line management for a small number of Directors and Executive Directors, no service impact assessment or risk assessment was required in terms of changes to services. The recent disaggregation of Adult Social Care, Health and Children’s Services with Hammersmith and Fulham Council did however directly affect staff and so impact assessments were completed for those two departments.

The Council has been working to change its organisational culture over the last six months. A series of staff and management workshops have been held to identify what needs to change and to help develop a revised set of values and behaviours which clearly put the needs of the communities we serve first. In July 2018, two all staff conferences were held to discuss the new draft values and behaviours, led by the Chief Executive. The proposed values focus on putting communities first, respect, integrity and working together.

The Council is also developing a new People Strategy within which equalities and diversity will be a key focus. Through this strategy we will seek to strengthen our approach to the Public Sector Equality Duty using the data reported in our workforce report. We want to encourage and enable staff to make appropriate decisions and not micro-manage. As part of new people strategy we are planning a leadership development programme to support managers to develop their skills in leading in such a challenging context. The Council does provide a comprehensive training offer to staff and this is reviewed regularly to ensure it meets the current challenges the organisation is facing.

Over the last year we have received a few whistleblowing cases and these have tended to relate to individual behaviours by managers and employees. We are considering any further actions we can take to ensure people know they will receive appropriate support when they raise an issue under this procedure.