Introducing the session titled 'Modernising the employment relationship', EO chair Ian Swithenbank described how industrial action often conveyed a negative view of working in local government that inaccurately reflected the commitment of the sector to training and developing staff.
Alastair Robertson of ALACE believes that staff will accept parameters, but must be trusted to implement their own ideas between them. He believes that this experimentation will require an end to 'blame culture' and the start of a new era of taking risks and critical appraisal.
In turn he believes that this could improve relations between the workforce and the community: 'We need to work towards employees treating customers as friends, and develop trust between the two. Public see frontline staff as 'the council', not the chief executive or leader.'
Concluding, Mr Swithenbank said: 'It's a fact that you will get better efficiency from happy staff. This can be achieved through better communication, consultation, acting on ideas and flexible working - and most of the time this will cost you nothing.'