The Client

  • A unitary authority
  • Engaged in provision of social services and hence subject to a Joint Review
  • Located in south east England and hence experiencing tight labour market competition, including from London-based Councils

The Challenge

  • To develop an appropriate workforce planning framework and process with a view subsequently to introducing, and eventually embedding, Workforce Planning across the Council
  • To develop a workforce plan for Social Services
  • To place Workforce Planning firmly on the agenda of middle and senior management
  • To engage busy staff in a new initiative where the principal drive for change originated externally

The Solution
Whilst service managers were well aware of resourcing issues in their areas there was no co-ordinated approach to workforce planning nor to solution implementation.  Workforce data was collected and held only for purposes of payroll and did not comprise a management information system.  Hence the (then) current position regarding the authority’s workforce was unknown.

We fielded a team of 3 consultants - an Information Systems specialist, a workforce planning/Human Resources specialist, and a project manager/researcher.  We presented an 8-stage approach, and plan of work comprising 4 work packages with identified milestones and deliverables, so providing flexibility and opportunities to resource the project internally as much as possible.

Our input comprised:

  • An information and information systems review
  • Analysis and documentation of current workforce data and information
  • Labour market research
  • Design of workforce planning process and frameworks
  • Facilitation of forward planning  through facilitated workshops, advice and guidance

Simultaneously we worked closely with Council staff, to involve them in the workforce planning process, and to ensure that this was properly informed by their experiences.  We provided support for Workforce Planning Groups to develop local plans and to contribute to their Directorate Workforce Plan.

The Social Services workforce planning process was treated as a pilot project for the Council and the learning clearly documented.  A process and framework for Council-wide workforce planning was presented to the client, together with advice on how to avoid potential pitfalls and bottlenecks.

We helped to position the authority itself as an example of good practice by presenting to externally managed workshops, seminars and conferences.  As a consequence of this assignment, this Council was placed at the forefront of public sector workforce planning.

Benefits at a Glance

  • A clear understanding of the capability and limitations of the Council’s existing IT systems and software for Workforce Planning purposes
  • A piloted process for developing workforce plans for other service areas
  • A developing Workforce Plan for the Directorate incorporating Social Services
  • Comprehensive and documented baseline workforce and labour market  information
  • A better understanding of the workforce planning implications of the Council’s Development Plans
  • Promotion of the Council as an exemplar of good practice with respect to Workforce Planning in the public sector


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