Agenda and minutes

Employment Committee - Wednesday, 16th November, 2022 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber - South Kesteven House, St. Peter's Hill, Grantham. NG31 6PZ. View directions

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No. Item


Apologies for absence

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    Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Kelham Cooke.


    Councillor Judy Stevens was a substitute.


Disclosure of interests

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    Members are asked to disclose any interests in matters for consideration at the meeting.


    There were none.


Minutes of the meeting held on 21 September 2022 pdf icon PDF 228 KB

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    A Member referred to page 7 of the minutes and asked what progress had been made with the Corporate Values Workshops and if they were to be held in public.


    The HR Manager confirmed that all Members had received an invite and those who were unable to attend in person would be able to take part in an online session in the near future.  There were no plans for the workshops to be held in public at this stage.


    The minutes of the meeting held on 21 September 2022 were proposed, seconded, and AGREED as a correct record.


Updates from the previous meeting

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    There were no Actions agreed at the previous meeting.


    There were none.


New Office Accommodation Update pdf icon PDF 143 KB

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    This report provides Employment Committee with an update on the current progress of the new office accommodation project taking place.



    The report was presented to the Committee by the Deputy Chief Executive who confirmed that the progress was on course.


    Approval was given at the Annual Full Council meeting held on 26 May 2022 to vacate the existing offices at St Peter’s Hill, Grantham and relocate to the empty office unit above the Savoy Cinema on St Catherine’s Road.  A budget allocation of up to £500k funded from the Invest to Save Reserve was approved by Council to be used for the relocation and works to be carried out for the upstairs area. 


    Design works and specification of the fitting out of the space has been moving forward, including consultation with all relevant stakeholders and the People’s Panel.  The design and floor layout for the upper floor previously agreed was starting to take shape, and works have now begun on the space.  The works have been led by the Lindum Construction Group via the Scape Framework to adhere to the Councils financial and procurement regulations and was approved by Cabinet. This was expected to be completed prior to Christmas, and then members of the facilities and IT team were to begin transferring furniture and IT equipment. It was hoped this will allow staff to work from the new office in January 2023.  The office space would enable staff to hot-desk and work in the same area, further building a culture of team SK.


    It was also approved at Cabinet that the temporary relocation of the Customer Services provision to the Guildhall Arts Centre could take place, so that there was no disruption to customers, whilst the move was underway.  Plans for this were underway and the move was to take place towards the end of November 2022. 


    During discussion, Members raised the following points:


    ·       Was the St Catherine’s Road office to include customer-facing services?


    ·       What capacity was the office space able to accommodate?


    ·       Would Members be shown around when complete?


    ·       Timely progress of the move was welcomed.


    ·       Over £1 million has been spent in the last 4 years developing the public realm area near the cinema, what was happening with the old offices?


    ·       Was the Council required to pay back the £1.3 million that was given by the Local Enterprise Partnership for a University Centre that hasn’t gone ahead and how did that affect the budget?


    ·       Ground Floor accommodation that was to be open to the public was welcomed


    ·       Was there sufficient space for public partners?


    The Deputy Chief Executive confirmed that the eventual plan was to move Customer Services into the new office space, along with public sector partners.  Imminently, Customer Services was to temporarily move to an office in the Guildhall recently vacated by Citizens Advice.  The Officer continued that full capacity was to include 90 desks.  Considering that staff work within the office 2 days in a week, this was likely to be more than necessary. Although not currently safe, Members would be welcome to be shown around the office space once building works had been completed.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26.


SKDC Intranet pdf icon PDF 174 KB

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    The purpose of this report is to provide the Employment Committee with an update on the Council’s intranet.



    The Cabinet Member for People and Safer Communities introduced a report on the Council’s intranet.


    The intranet was reviewed in October 2021 with a purpose of updating content, rebranding the site and updating the directory.


    Whilst a review of the intranet has taken place and a number of changes and updates were made, the platform currently being used very much limited the potential of a staff intranet.  There were several limitations of the current intranet platform which made it difficult to do a more substantial and significant update. The current intranet was old and did not have high usage.  


    All departments with content on the intranet were asked to review it and remove or replace information where required including updates to the customer services pages including the contacts, the home page links and the health and safety advice. More recent updates had included adding the desk booking guidance and app to support the new ways of working.  All the ‘Monty’ branding was removed (previous name for the intranet) and the site was rebranded with the corporate logos and colour scheme.


    Plans were being put in place to refresh the council’s website and initial scoping is to take place to understand cost implications of also doing this for the intranet.  User needs and possible solutions were to be explored with the People Panel including potential options for a more interactive intranet and refresh of the design.


    The following questions were asked during discussion:


    ·       Was there a target date for the new intranet to be introduced?


    ·       A good intranet was considered to be very important, especially as staff were frequently working from home.


    The Cabinet Member for People and Safer Communities informed Members that there was no start date yet as cost implications were being considered.  The website for residents was considered to be a priority.




    a)    That the Employment Committee noted the update on South Kesteven’s intranet site.


Employee Rewards and Recognition Update pdf icon PDF 179 KB

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    The purpose of this report is to provide the Employment Committee with an update on employee recognition.



    The Employment Committee requested an annual report to update on the employee recognition in place and any new initiatives.  This was introduced by the Cabinet Member for People and Safer Communities who informed the Committee that at South Kesteven, it was important to ensure all employees felt valued, inspired and proud of their contributions and to create a great company culture by focusing on positively rewarding the right behaviours and celebrating the positive things happening more.


    South Kesteven District Council’s recognition strategy had been reviewed with feedback sought from the People Panel and colleagues.  Examples included:


    #TeamSK Thank You - Peer to peer nominations to say ‘thank you’ to a colleague and give a reason why. This was introduced in August and the first month attracted more than 50 nominations, followed by 47 in September. A draw was made of all the nominees and the winners received an additional day’s annual leave.


    Revised long service awards - These were previously awarded when colleagues leave SKDC. The new process means colleagues are rewarded when the anniversary takes place making long service recognition more meaningful and timely. Amounts given were also reviewed and benchmarked.


    The Cabinet Member for People and Safer Communities informed the Committee that thankyou cards had been made for the purpose of sending to staff and invited Members to take some if they wished.  The cards were supplied by the HR Team if requested.


    An Employee Awards Ceremony was planned for 1 December to recognise contributions and great achievements throughout the year and had received a lot of very positive feedback.


    The Chairman stated that the Committee was extremely grateful for the hard work and resilience of the staff, particularly during challenging times.


    During discussion, Members raised the following points:


    ·       Were staff removed from the draw once they had won a day’s annual leave, to prevent staff winning multiple times?


    ·       It was recognised that a ‘thank you’ increased motivation and productivity amongst staff.  It was hoped that the system was maintained and that nominations didn’t reduce over time due to complacency.


    ·       Some Members weren’t previously aware of the thank you cards.  How was this idea going to be communicated to all Members along with how to ensure staff receive their cards?  There used to be a monthly online magazine called ‘Evolve’ that briefed Councillors.


    ·       A Member welcomed the recent Planning Tour of Grantham as a great way of communicating to Members what part they were playing and how their decisions had a positive effect within the area of South Kesteven.


    ·       Internal communications had to be largely positive but balanced also.


    ·       It was important to be mindful that front-facing staff are more likely to be recognised.  All staff need to be remembered.


    The HR Manager confirmed that staff could only win the ‘thank you’ draw once a year and names were removed once a staff member had won the day’s leave.  Nominations were shared with staff so they could see who had been nominated.


    The Cabinet Member for People and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 28.


HR People Plan and Dashboard pdf icon PDF 157 KB

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    This report provides narrative to the HR metrics from the HR Dashboard covering quarter 1 and quarter 2 of the 2022/23 financial year.


    Additional documents:


    The Employment Committee requested that a comprehensive HR dashboard be provided every six months to Committee.  This report was introduced by the Cabinet Member for People and Safer Communities.


    The dashboard, provided and update on staff numbers and covered the following themes:


    • Establishment

    • Starters and leavers

    • Absence

    • Equality and diversity

    • Employee relations case data

    • Learning and development


    The HR Manager continued with an overview of the report metrics.  There were currently 534 employees – down 34 in the first two quarters of the year, in line with restructuring activities.  There was an even gender mix and 20% of the team were part-time.  Approximately half of the workforce were aged over 50 and discussions had taken place around potentially losing a lot of experience within a short time period.  Almost half the workforce had been employed at the Council for 5 years or less.  The end of the Pandemic saw a larger increase in leavers, seen on a national level as ‘the Great Resignation’ but levels were current down to a more expected rate.  Exit interviews were now routinely carried out with leavers as the feedback was considered very important.


    Data for absences showed an average of 6.65 days per year were lost, with mental health increasingly emerging as one of the reasons given.  A lot of focus was now given to well-being and employee assistance.  There were 60 approaches to trained mental health first-aiders and 42 calls to the employee assistance scheme.  A return-to-work interview was given in 97% of cases where staff came back to work after sickness leave.


    Only partial information had been given on equality and diversity data as some staff had chosen not to confirm this information and HR were to focus on obtaining as much information as possible within this area whilst respecting the right to privacy of all staff.


    In learning and development, 305 training places were confirmed within the first two quarters of the year providing learning opportunities and the number of apprentices had increased by 3.  Apprenticeships were a huge part of South Kesteven and there were opportunities for these apprentices to experience several different services within the organisation.


    During discussion, the following points were raised by Members:


    ·       What proportion of the mental health sickness recorded was due to work-related issues or cost-of-living issues?


    ·       It was acknowledged that when people are suffering with mental illness they were not always able to give a reason and it could be perceived as intrusive to ask.


    ·       It was considered that the proportion of unanswered information relating to equality and diversity was not necessarily a negative point.  It could be that staff were comfortable to exercise their right to privacy.


    ·       Was there sufficient support for new parents returning to work?


    ·       Were the Personal Development Reviews seen as a positive experience by staff?


    ·       A Member highlighted an error in the ethnicity bar chart (page 43) where the fist category should have read ‘white british’.


    The HR Manager informed the Committee  ...  view the full minutes text for item 29.


Work Programme 2022 - 2023 pdf icon PDF 74 KB

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    Members to consider the Committee’s Work Programme for 2022-2023.


    The Committee noted the contents of the Work Programme 2022 – 2023.


Any other business, which the Chairman, by reason of special circumstances, decides is urgent

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    A Member acknowledged that while a briefing was received regularly, due to news being accessible 24 hours a day, they frequently found out information through its appearance in the press.  It was asked where Members should go to stay informed.


    The Deputy Chief Executive acknowledged that this was recognised as happening and the Council was working towards a process that prevented this.


Close of Meeting

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    The Chairman closed the meeting at 11:00.