Public Sector People and Culture environment sees progress but concerns remain
21st November 2023
Progress has been made with regard to policies and procedures around public sector staff employment and working culture, but while a Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel's follow-up review recognised the improvements, it raised several ongoing concerns.
In a series of two hearings, the Panel questioned: the Chief Minister, Deputy Kristina Moore, who in the last States Assembly was formerly Chair of the Scrutiny Panel and undertook the original review into people and culture; Andrew McLoughlin, Interim Chief Executive Officer; Mark Grimley, Chief People & Transformation Officer; and also several members of the States Employment Board (SEB), including: Connétable Andy Jehan, Deputy Barbara Ward, and Deputy Elaine Millar. The aim was to gauge progress since the original review and identify any areas of continuing concern.
Chair of the Panel, Deputy Sam Mézec, said: 'We can see progress has been made, in particular with more constructive engagement with the trade unions and staff, and in efforts to reduce interim personnel, fill key worker roles, and reduce turnover. We remain concerned that there is still a long way to go, as shown by the evidence our Panel has received in submissions from people on the front line. One major concern we have is that many of these improvements were led by Mark Grimley, Chief People and Transformation Officer, who has now resigned, and we aren't aware of any strategy to replace him.'
Key discussion areas:
- There have been significant changes in the midwifery leadership team, and the SEB is in the process of recruiting a senior Human resources professional for the Health and Community Services team. The Turnaround team has made procedural and practical improvements, however, concerns still remain in terms of working patterns and stress levels, despite progress in wellbeing and occupational health.
- Improvements have been made in the data given to the SEB, but more detailed data is needed, and the Panel highlighted that this was behind schedule.
- The Panel has requested to see anonymised Minutes of the States Employment Board meetings with trade unions and other parties, but these have yet to be forwarded to the Panel.
- Concerns over the frequent changes of Chief Executive Officer were raised by the Panel and whether the current recruitment process is going to ensure the new CEO will stay for a longer tenure.
- The Panel were interested to hear from the interim CEO, that it is the breadth of public service rather than the size of the organisation that is challenging. He highlighted the four major incidents that have been dealt with in Jersey in the last year and said 'we are trading on resilience' and need to get the balance right.
- New codes of practice have been introduced to simplify the grievance and disciplinary procedures and this has helped reduce the number and length of time of suspensions. The Speak Up Guardian is said to be working well, with Unite union calling it a positive development, although the union said it was sceptical about the staff engagement survey, Be heard, findings. The Panel felt that there was still some 'vagueness' about the results of the Be Heard survey at a more micro level, along with how the whistleblowing process was being handled.
A full recording of the public hearing with the Chief Minister can be watched here
A full recording of the public hearing with the States Employment Board can be watched here
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