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Agenda Item No. 4

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Senior Management Appointment Committee: 14th June, 2017

 

Report of the Director of Environment and Housing

 

Recruitment and Selection Arrangements for the Head of Housing and Building Services

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To provide an update on the recruitment and selection arrangements for the post of Head of Housing and Building Services and to agree a proposal to appoint to this post on a temporary basis.

Recommendations

  1. That the post of Head of Housing and Building Services is advertised internally as a temporary secondment opportunity for a period of up to 12 months.
  2. That delegated authority is granted to the Director of Environment and Housing in consultation with the Head of Human Resources to advertise the position and to undertake technical interviews so as to propose a shortlist of candidates for consideration by Committee.

Reasons for the Recommendations

  1. To provide the best opportunity to appoint to the post in the shortest time period and to ensure the appointment is administered in accordance with the Council's Constitution.
  2. To reduce the time taken to complete the recruitment process.

Background

  1. The previous post holder left the Council's employment on 5th August 2016. Since this date two concurrent internal and external recruitment campaigns have been undertaken, the most recent involving a number of professional external recruitment partners. Both campaigns unfortunately proved unsuccessful.
  2. The first campaign resulted in 10 external applications being received. However, the Committee of 27th September 2016 resolved that none of these applicants were considered suitable to be taken forward to the next stages of the recruitment process.
  3. Due to the obvious difficulties in recruiting to this post, Committee agreed to the appointment of Solace Enterprises to undertake a review of the post details and provide a market assessment to the Council. The outcome of this review was reported to Senior Management Appointment Committee on 15th December 2016. In summary the report recommended an improved bespoke recruitment campaign with the job description and person specification amended so as to attract senior professionals from a wider field. The report also suggested increasing the salary by £5k to compete better with the local Registered Social Landlord (RSL) sector. Committee agreed to all the recommendations save for the salary increase, believing that this could cause problems with the Council's current Chief Officer grade and salary arrangements.
  4. The job description and person specification are attached at Appendices A and B which incorporate the changes agreed by the Committee in advance of the second recruitment campaign. This campaign also benefitted by the use of professional, recruitment and advertising consultants which resulted in 25 applications being received. Of these 25 applications, the Committee of 16th March, 2017 agreed to take 12 candidates forward to the officer technical interview stage. Two of the candidates subsequently withdrew leaving 10 available to attend for the technical interview of the selection process.
  5. At its meeting of 30th March 2017, the Committee agreed to take forward a short list of 4 candidates from the 10 to formal Committee interview. These interviews were conducted on 5th April 2017.
  6. Committee made an appointment but despite the candidate initially accepting the role the candidate subsequently withdrew 2 days later, citing family reasons. None of the other candidates interviewed were considered suitable for appointment to the post.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The main duties and responsibilities of the role are currently being covered by the Director of Environment and Housing, supported by the Operational Manager Public Housing and the Operational Manager Building Services. This arrangement is however becoming more and more difficult to sustain as time goes on, as the Head of Service post is a key strategic role with many time and high level decision commitments. Whilst morale amongst the many teams is good, as is performance, it is now felt that the progress of the division overall is beginning to suffer due to the officers involved in the cover arrangements having insufficient time to attend to all their many substantive work demands.
  2. One of the issues considered by Solace Enterprises and reviewed by the Committee previously was whether the role was simply too diverse and challenging to attract appropriate candidates and if certain functions should be separated and covered by other managers e.g. housing from building services or moving building cleaning and security. However it was considered that the performance and quality of the service as currently organised is far superior to the times when these functions were the shared by a number of senior managers. Also the role and responsibilities were delivered successfully by the previous post holder for a period of more than 3 years from both a strategic and an operational perspective which is understandable given the synergy of the services.
  3. Discounting the current post cover arrangement for the medium to longer term, there are a number of options that can now be considered with the aim of filling this post, or undertaking its main duties and responsibilities, and these are detailed below.
  4. Externally advertise again for the position using the same job description, person specification and salary band - Whilst this could prove successful this is considered unlikely at this time. A previous advertising campaign and a more comprehensive recruitment process undertaken in March this year failed to identify more than 1 suitable candidate and little time has elapsed since then. This could well be appropriate in the future but a longer time period between the next process and the previous ones is required.
  5. Externally advertise again for the position using the same job description, person specification though with an increased salary band - It is apparent that the market for this post includes senior officers from Registered Social Landlords (RSLs). Generally RSLs pay higher grades than Local Authorities for roles which often have significantly less scope. It would be difficult to compare with RSLs on salary and an increase of circa £5k, suggested by the previously mentioned Solace report, is unlikely to be sufficient to encourage a large number of potential candidates away from their RSL roles. The payment of a market supplement of circa £10k may be necessary if we are to attract such candidates, however this could potentially conflict with the Council's current Chief Officer pay scales. So whilst this does remain an option that may need further consideration in future, this report puts forward an alternative approach that may be more appropriate for now.
  6. Appoint an external interim manager to the post either via an agency or directly. This arrangement tends to be quite expensive when compared to others and a certain amount of time will be required to ensure that this incoming manager has the necessary knowledge of the staff, customers and the work of Housing and Building Services to enable the placement to be most effective. As an interim manager is unlikely to apply for the role if advertised in the future (as they can generally command more money in an interim role), this relatively short term option can be quite disruptive for staff and is probably more appropriate when a service is in crisis and new leadership and management is urgently required to make an immediate impact. This is not considered to be the case here.
  7. Advertise the position internally as a secondment opportunity for up to 12 months. It is not clear why there were no internal applications received in response to either of the previous recruitment processes but potential internal candidates may well have been put off by the role being advertised externally and the fact that the previous post holder was an external candidate. One of the learning points from both the recruitment processes, and in particular the first attempt to appoint to this post, has however been the relative quality of the external candidates when compared to our own senior staff in this and other service areas across the Council. It is clear that we have a number of high quality senior managers who may have transferable skills and experience relevant to this and to other similar senior management positions in the Council. Such experience and skill levels were not necessarily obvious with a large number of the external candidates who applied for this position.
  8. There is little or no risk in examining whether any existing staff would be interested in covering this role in full via a secondment opportunity of up to 12 months. The positive aspects to this being, the low costs of the process, the fact that in the option, all the candidates would be internal and have significant knowledge of this Council. This option would also, provide a development opportunity to even more than one member of staff due to the likelihood of the secondee's post having to be back filled. This process would also further demonstrate the Council's commitment to the Staff Charter and contribute to the delivery of Theme ii "Leadership and Succession Plan" of the Council's 2016 /20 Workforce Plan.
  9. This approach would enable the role to be re-advertised at some point in the future and should the secondee be successful during the secondment then they would be much more likely to apply for the post on a permanent basis than would otherwise have been the case. Also, if the secondment was not determined to be successful by either party then it could be quickly withdrawn with the secondee returning to his or her substantive role.
  10. It is therefore proposed that the above secondment option as set out in paragraphs 15 and 16 above be progressed and subject to there being sufficient internal interest, technical interviews to identify a short list of suitable candidates for the post be conducted by the Director of Environment and Housing in conjunction with the Head of Human Resources.
  11. A report detailing the proposed short-list would be presented to this Committee for agreement, with this Committee then undertaking the final interviews and making an appointment if appropriate.
  12. Any secondment to the post of Head of Housing and Building Services would be for a period of up to 12 months and would be on the terms and conditions as prescribed by the Joint Negotiating Committee for Chief Officers for Local Authorities

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. The vacancy is a consequence of the previous post holder having resigned. The costs associated with this particular recruitment process would be predominantly officer time only and this can be covered from within existing budgets.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. There are not sustainability or climate change implications as a result of this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. There are no direct legal implications resulting from this report, and the proposals within this report are compliant with the Local Authorities (Standard Orders) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2014.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. There are no crime and disorder implications resulting from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. The recruitment process will reflect best equal opportunities practice.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. The successful appointment to the position of Head of Housing and Building Services on a secondment basis will assist in the delivery of Council's corporate and service objectives.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. The decision of the Senior Management Appointment Committee will be referred for information to the Council.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. The recognised Trade Unions have been consulted on these proposals.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. N/A

Background Papers

None

Contact Officer

Miles Punter - Director of Environment and Housing

Tel 02920 673101

Officers Consulted

Miles Punter - Director of Environment and Housing

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Environment and Housing