Getting the chance to express our opinion isn't just cathartic, it helps to build trust especially when we feel our views are being heard.
But getting a platform to be heard isn’t always easy – and it’s even more difficult during a pandemic.
That’s why the virtual floor of our last Employee Listening Event was turned over to the 65 employees in attendance.
Over two hours, they were asked to provide open and honest feedback to leadership on a range of topics, from communication to culture, wellbeing to senior officer visibility.
But listening is only the first step. Action also has to be taken. Currently, colleagues in Organisational Development (OD) are evaluating the feedback given at the event and from the recent See Me Scotland survey.
Key themes will then be identified, and an action plan created to address major issues. The plan, due to be launched over the summer, will be endorsed by the Corporate Management Team, who will also monitor progress to ensure positive change happens.
Chief Executive, Kenneth Lawrie, said:
"We know that successful organisations are those who value, support and listen to their employees. Today, we talked about employee engagement and what that might look like in a post-COVID world. We’ve managed to have an open, robust and honest discussion, which I really value."
To give a flavour of what was discussed, OD has summarised discussions below. A full transcript from the day has already been circulated to those who attended. If you didn’t attend but would like a copy of the transcript, email OrganisationalDevelopment@falkirk.gov.uk.
- Recovery – request to see a timetable or plan that will help people understand when things are likely to happen, especially things that will impact employees.
- Falkirk 5 well-received due to upbeat good news stories; Council’s Twitter feed makes the organisations look approachable.
- Communications from managers were reasonably robust and positive, however, communication from senior managers and above less robust and less positive.
Senior Officer visibility
- Leadership at the top level has not been visible. Line managers have been more accessible and more present with employees.
- More visibility of senior leadership would be useful moving forward.
- Issues with staff working in offices – they seemed to be forgotten about by senior management. Acknowledged that some effort had been made to connect with those working at home. In some cases, significant number of council staff were working as normal during the pandemic and that seems to have got lost somewhere.
- Despite criticism of the absence of senior leadership during the pandemic, there was also an acknowledgement that it may have been more difficult for senior leadership/management to be as visible as some staff would have wanted.
- New ways of working - need for more training on how to use new technology and how to work collaboratively as well as examples of good practice.
- IT has done well to keep up with demand and support.
Anytime Anywhere working
- What happens next needs to be communicated, including how we will work once restrictions lift, how many days we’ll be in an office, who can work from home, and what buildings will be open and when.
- If new ways of working including new technology rolled out, employees need more guidance in advance and to ensure the rollout is consistent.
- Positive connections being made using Teams, with many teams setting up virtual kitchens or offices that people can drop into as and when they are free to catch up with others and virtually work side-by-side.
- Work-life balance – managers need to ensure homeworking is manageable for team members. More support is needed for those feeling isolated or missing colleagues. Need to ensure employees are taking breaks.
- General feeling is … workloads have increased, and it feels more hectic.
- Boundaries are important to consider. What time should we stop sending and checking emails? People receive emails later in the evening and feel like they need to respond immediately.?
- Train people to provide upward feedback. May help improve honesty – change the culture and improve communication between all levels.
- Culture has improved in some areas.
- Need to involve employees more in change: do they think our values are right? Employee events work well, but there isn’t always clarity on the actions that will be taken afterwards – need to know the issues raised, what action is going to be taken, and the outcome. Need to also rejuvenate the CANS and get them involved more.
Systems and Processes
- There are still difficulties around how to contact staff who work out of hours and don’t have a council device.
- Challenges with existing methods of communication, some areas still having to print off letters to communicate with groups of employees.