The Monitoring Officer introduced the report, outlining that it had been noted at Cabinet the previous evening. The report set out why the recruitment direction had been brought in and the rationale behind it. The Posts covered by the report were also set out in the appendix. The Monitoring Officer drew Members’ attention to the Commissioners’ comments on the need to review this area of work on a regular basis to ensure the improvements needed were delivered.
In answer to questions regarding the list of third tier posts by directorate, the Monitoring Officer explained that the list could change and was a moveable feast; not all of the posts on the list had been filled yet. There were still vacancies across the organisation including at senior levels, and significant numbers of vacancies in finance and ICT, the Council had a big recruitment agenda and hoped to fill these vacancies by direct recruitment. There was concern from some Members on the number of vacancies in the finance department and the possible domino effect of this on the functioning of the Council. Officers explained that this was under constant review, and two deputies were currently employed in the finance department on an interim basis.
Members suggested a ‘traffic light’ system to flag up where there were vacancies of critically important roles, and officers agreed this was a good idea which they would suggest to CLT. There was also regular monitoring and reporting to CLT by HR on where there were senior vacancies that needed to be filled. If critical these could be filled on an interim basis and this had been done in some cases, as recruitment of qualified people for senior roles was difficult in the current nation-wide recruitment environment.
Members also raised the need to ensure staff well-being where other team members were affected by a vacant position in a team, especially at senior level. Officers agreed and outlined steps that were in place to support staff including hybrid and flexible working opportunities, well-being activities and the employee assistance programme. HR were conscious of staff well-being, and the planned staff-survey would be useful in terms of getting feedback from staff on what was needed.
There were questions on specific vacancies which had been hard to fill, including in scrutiny, and on upskilling existing staff to enable progression. Officers admitted some posts were difficult to fill where applicants did not have the skill-set required, even when advertised in specialist press, and in some cases the position may be advertised at a higher grade if it could not be filled. In terms of upskilling existing staff, all Council vacancies were advertised internally first, giving existing staff the opportunity to apply for any advertised role including on progression.
Members asked for further details on the cross-council workshops mentioned in the report which had identified issues and quick wins which could be taken by services and HR. Officers did not have details on this but agreed to update Members by email in the near future.
Resolved – The Committee noted the contents of the report.