Garry Nelson 26 July 2018

Staff churn in local government - an unsustainable reality

Staff churn in local government - an unsustainable reality image

Whilst councils have coped well throughout current economic and social uncertainty, many are looking at challenging times ahead.

With over two million consistently employed across the UK local government sector - and hundreds of thousands of jobs changing every year - it’s no surprise that managing employee turnover and its huge associated cost is a growing headache for local government HR professionals and executives alike.

Factor in the fact that the likes of Oxford Economics put the average cost of replacing an employee at a whopping £30K+ (for both direct and indirect costs) and we can see that surely these staggering numbers simply aren’t sustainable indefinitely; it devours public sector budgets, talent pools and, ultimately, hits the bottom line.

But what can you do beyond beyond what effective HR departments are already doing to improve effective talent acquisition, retention and development programmes to plug this gap?

When it comes to success and growth talk to any HR professional, team manager, private sector business owner or public sector manager and they will say it’s all about your people. Nowhere is this more evident than in the local government sector. Your people are the very heart of your business, the main point of contact and essentially everything to your ‘customers.’ So, when it comes to recruiting and retaining talent, being perceived as a ‘caring’ organisation could not be more important.

Caring organisations

Organisations – whether in the private or public sector - that are recognised as being caring see higher quality talent applying for roles within their organisations and correspondingly better levels of loyalty, translating into lower attrition rates. These organisations are perceived to ‘take care’ of their workforce. Typically taking time to understand the needs and wants of their employees, communicating openly and supporting their people through a range of wellbeing, inclusion and benefits programmes enables their workforce to get the most out of their role.

Caring organisations are fast becoming the employer of choice for both Gen Z and Gen Y workers. This is further evidenced by over 31% of UK workers stating that “better treatment from their employer and a greater sense of being valued” are the leading factors – over base pay – that help motivate and engage them more.

With four out of five people stating they would prefer new and better ‘benefits’ over a pay rise, it’s clear that employee benefits can play a large part in achieving that caring organisation status. By crafting a well-informed, tailored employee benefits programme for your team, you are helping support your employees in their daily working life and beyond; past working hours and well into their personal lives. This can manifest itself in a multitude of ways from providing an Employee Assistance

Programme (EAP) for all employees, to offering straight forward financial advice or even facilitating low cost insurance products for themselves and their families for employees to choose from.

Group purchasing power

And do remember, not all benefits need to come from the public-sector purse. Simply offering a service to your employees at a discounted rate (which typically comes with group purchasing power) and allowing the employee to purchase this themselves can have a huge impact. However, a well thought out benefits programme is ineffective without your employees understanding what is on offer to them and the true value of the offering.

This is where employee benefits technology can make a real difference. Modern employee benefits technology enables your people to easily access their benefits in one location and you can simply communicate and demonstrate the total value of your offering with targeted communications and an engaging Total Reward Statement (TRS). So, that bonus you’re offering new starters for staying past the typical tenure (say six months) can be communicated in month four, five and six and then shows up in the TRS at month seven.

But what about the cost and resources needed to implement effective benefits technology? With 83% of councils looking to enable process improvements though technology, benefits tech could empower councils to take advantage of digital disruption for more agile and data driven employee engagement schemes. Led by a move to Cloud-based, pay as you go, modern technology that can genuinely give you only what you need and want. In a similar manner to how good dedicated public sector tech can drive efficiencies, benefits tech should empower your reward and HR teams to work efficiently, save time and invest more in your people.

Effective benefits technology should be a win-win situation, lowering attrition through stronger communication and better employee access to resources improving your bottom line. Just a 2-3% drop in attrition could see you recuperate the cost of the platform with additional savings possibly being invested in even more effective wellness and benefits programmes driving attrition down further.

Garry Nelson is the commercial director at Zest.

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