The report provided a detailed insight into employee turnover rates within the Council, for the above period using the themes within the Workforce Plan and had been provided in response to Members’ request for an analysis of employee turnover in the Council.  The purpose of the report was to provide clarity of employee turnover which had been assessed on the basis of the number of employees leaving the Council as a percentage of the total number of staff (headcount) employed by the Council.  The report compared the turnover figures between April 2013 to March 2014 and those between April 2014 to March 2015, to assist performance monitoring of turnover over both periods and to draw meaningful comparisons.  The report had also been restyled to include further analysis of the reason why people chose to leave the employment of the Council following Members’ requests.

The Head of Human Resources referred to the table of figures set out in the report and for the above period which indicated a slight increase from 8.64% to 9.08% in comparison to the same period in the previous year.  Corporate turnover had increased from 9.30% to 9.87% and turnover in Schools increased from 8.00% to 8.38% in April 2014 to March 2015, in comparison to the same period in the previous year.  A comparison of employee turnover from the previous year and the main reasons for measuring and analysing levels of employee turnover were set out in paragraphs 8 and 9 of the report.  

In referring to turnover by Directorate, the Head of Service indicated that levels of employee turnover had increased in all Corporate Directorates and in Schools over the period April 2014 to March 2015, in comparison to the previous year’s period.  This was with the exception with the Directorate of Learning and Skills, where the percentage of leavers had decreased in comparison with the same period in 2013/14.  The majority of employees from the former Directorate of Corporate and Customer Services were transferred to the Resources Directorate in July 2014 and this helped explain the disproportionate increase in turnover for the Resources Directorate from 2013/14, as 11 leavers came from the Directorate of Corporate and Customer Services.  The highest proportion of employee turnover in relation to the size of the Directorate in both reporting periods continued to be Development Services (40 leavers from an average headcount of 245 employees).  The next highest proportion of employee turnover was in Resources – 46 leavers from an average headcount of 377 employees.  The table set out in paragraph 13 of the report showed the turnover rate by Directorate and with a further, more detailed breakdown of each Directorate into services could be found in Appendix 1 to the report.  Appendix 2 to the report also showed the same breakdown of Directorates, but focused just on voluntary resignations.  

The Head of Service referred to turnover by leaving reason, which had increased marginally from 285 between April 2013 and March 2015 to 288 during the same period in 2014/15.  This had helped to facilitate restructuring where necessary and to mitigate the need for redundancies.  In terms of redundancies, he indicated that the number of redundancies had increased from 14 to 42 in the same reporting period, however, he indicated that this was to be expected and projected within the Medium Term Financial Plan, and was inevitable given known challenges.  The department had and would continue to have to provide an efficient service whilst managing a reductions in public services finances.  He also reminded Members that the Council had a positive approach to managing change, which helped to mitigate, avoid and reduce the incidents of compulsory redundancies.  This was supported by the Council’s Redeployment Procedure which gave Council employees, whose jobs were at risk of redundancy, educated support to find alternative employment within the Council.  The aim was to maintain job security for employees and retain the knowledge, skills and experience gained from employees who were already employed by the Council.  Consequently, during the reporting period there were seven redeployment trial periods, six of which were successful.  From 1st April 2015, to date, there had been 13 redeployment trial periods, with 11 of these resulting in the employees being successfully redeployed.  Two trials were currently ongoing.  

As for dismissals, retirement and end of temporary contracts, the Head of Human Resources indicated that all of these had decreased over the comparative reporting period.  The TUPE figures took account of the transfer of a cleaning team in Housing and Visible Services, to an external contractor in August 2014.  Set out in paragraph 20 of the report were the reasons for leaving with a more detailed breakdown, including, more specific reasons that made up the leaving categories set out in Appendix 3 to the report.  

He indicated that exit interviews would continue to play an important part in identifying the reasons why people chose to leave employment with the Council.  Exit questionnaires were sent to all leavers, along with a pre-postage paid return envelope, however, there was no obligation for leaving employees to complete the exit surveys and only a small proportion of these were consequently returned.

During the reporting year, he also indicated that 11.5% of the Corporate voluntary leavers chose to complete exit interviews / questionnaires.  These replies had been used to analyse and report on the reasons why these people chose to leave the employment with the Council.  Further analysis of these responses was set out in Appendix 4 to the report.  He also indicated that in future an online version of the exit questionnaire would be trialled alongside the existing process to try and improve the level of responses behind why employees chose to leave the Council.

In referring to turnover in a wider comparison, the Head of Service indicated that the CIPD Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey (2013) reported an overall turnover rate of 9.4% in the public sector and 11.9% across all sectors in the UK.  The next survey was due to be published later in 2015.  In addition, XpertHR benchmarking research (2013) on labour turnover rates found the mean average voluntary resignation turnover rate for UK employees was 10.6%.  Also information published by the Local Government Data Unit and Welsh Local Government Association, the average turnover rate in local authorities in Wales was 10.8% (2013/14).  The turnover rate within the Council for 2014/15 fell below the above comparisons with an overall turnover rate of 9.08%.  Current research from the Hay Group suggested that employee turnover across all sectors was expected to rise to approximately 18% by 2018.  

In summing up, the Head of Service indicated that the Council’s work in relationship to staff engagement, had in the last six weeks 62 staff engagement sessions covering 1,600 staff had been held.  Four separate workshops would be held in the future and would be helpful in informing the Council of its approach towards staff retention issues.  The four workshops would focus on communication, training, engagement and the expectation from managers.

A Member thanked the Head of Service for producing a comprehensive and informative report.  However, he felt that the voluntary exit interviews needed to be made more integral to Council processes.  He also congratulated the HR Division for establishing the Leadership Café which he considered to be a strong and supportive initiative for staff.  He also considered the current turnover rates as an indication of general staff satisfaction within the Council.  General discussion ensued with Members expressing different views regarding whether the Council’s current turnover rate i.e. was a matter of concern or was it reasonable, given the number of change / transformational initiatives ongoing within the Council, which were almost certain to unsettle staff who then may look elsewhere for alternative employment.  The discussion also touched upon issues relating to recruitment to vacant positions and measures that had been taken by the Council to address issues relating to specific service areas.  It was confirmed by the Head of Service that where an individual left under voluntary reasons, it was incumbent upon Service Managers to look at the organisational needs of the Council before making a decision to recruit to fill the vacancy.

The Chairman, in referring to the Leadership Café, enquired of the Head of Service who the initiative was open to and whether all employees within the employment of the Council were aware of training that was available during their employment.  In response, the Head of Service indicated that the Leadership Café was open to all staff and not just for managers, but for all members of staff who were interested in leadership.  Access to the Leadership Café was on a first come first serve basis and the subject areas covered were related to management development programme and succession planning.  In regard to the matter of availability of training to employees, he referred to the Council’s Organisational / Training Development Officer who assessed Personal Development Review appraisals’ training requirements, to align training opportunities to the individual.

A Member of the Committee referred to the percentage figure in relation to voluntary leavers and enquired of the Head of Service how this compared to the Welsh average.  In response, the Head of Service indicated that he would reply in writing to the Members providing the relevant information.  

Having regard to the above, it was

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position in regard to employee turnover within the Council be noted and that the report be referred to the Cabinet for consideration.

Reason for recommendation

In acknowledgement of corporate objectives and to inform Cabinet of employee turnover rates.”

Attached as Appendix – Report to Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources): 21st July, 2015