Barnet's personnel services are focused on supporting a comprehensive transformation of the council in pursuit of its new agenda. The council is clear about the type of organisation it wants to be and sets out to be a good employer, investing in the skills and development of its workforce and involving them in decision-making.
Personnel is supporting the council's commitment to best value, a new political decision-making structure and new organisation.
It has defined a new 'contract' with its staff in its Quality Employment Guarantee.
This is supported by a substantial customer focus with established communications, complaints channels and survey systems.
Our entry for this year's LGC Personnel Team of the Year award stems from work carried out by a small working group established to consider what we are doing well and what we might do better.
Their research highlighted significant achievements all areas of our diverse operation, which includes personnel advice and support, training, health and safety, occupational health, payroll and pensions administration and car leasing.
These achievements include a new integrated payroll and personnel information system, publishing a pension scheme guide, establishing an IT partnership with a local college, developing our in-house temporary staffing agency, revising our Personnel Handbook for Schools, subjecting our recruitment advertising to competitive tender and running personnel 'masterclasses' with Plymouth University.
More generally, our entry reflects the importance we attach to working in partnership to deliver relevant and cost-effective services.
Following an adverse report two years ago, the new head of human resources was charged with revitalising people services within social services. Through restructuring, working with managers and users, the human resources team reinvented itself and has claimed many noticeable achievements since October 1997. In particular its strategic input has strengthened the service management. This has achieved national recognition for the team and a regional profile, particularly through health/social services training consortium work.
The human resources team now demonstrates an enthusiasm to grapple with the core business of social services rather than relying upon procedural authority. It is inventive in solving staff problems and handling a range of difficult situations.
Our small, efficient corporate personnel team aims to promote Lewisham as London's leading authority by enabling the council to deliver high quality services.
We have enhanced our service with innovative projects in modern people management. We have modernised processes and procedures and re-emphasised the importance of research, benchmarking and learning from others, both inside and outside the council.
By the end of the year we achieved best value pilot status and commenced the Value for Lewisham programme. We recruited over 100 young people, confirming our commitment to promoting social inclusion. A new, modernised, cost-effective recruitment process is in place, with an increase of over 20% in responses to advertisements.
Savings of£240,000 have been made from changes to early retirement provisions.
Sandwell has a post industrial legacy which has resulted in high levels of deprivation and poor health. The personnel team supports all employees to work together to meet the needs of local citizens. It also ensures that the council is not only the largest but the best employer in the borough.
Over the past five years the council has embarked upon a radical process of cultural change spearheaded by a corporate change management team. The personnel team actively contributes to this culture change agenda.
During the past 12 months we have used the BQF Excellence Model in an innovative way to look at human resources management. Following this valuable work we have revised the human resources strategy.
Award sponsor - The Document Company Xerox
'At Xerox, we are increasingly aware of shared experience and potential for partnership with local government. We are convinced of the key role the personnel function can play in managing change. We are therefore delighted to sponsor this particular award.
Today, the pace of change is great and shows no sign of slackening. In response, both public and private sector organisations restate core values and objectives, re-engineer structures and processes and endeavour to lead their people through cultural change to new levels of excellence. It is people who make the difference. No business is more people-centred than local government. And the personnel function is a natural centre of competence for those corporate processes(recruitment, appraisal, training, reward and communication) which focus on people and change.
This is the direction we at Xerox have taken. We have transformed ourselves from a copier company into a provider of full range of document services. We deliver facilities management, outsourcing and consultancy, as well as hardware. Our consultancy services encompass total quality and the re-engineering of business and document processes. The quality of our performance has been recognised by the market place and endorsed by the European Federation of Quality Management , which made us the first outright winner of its corporate quality award.
We congratulate LGC on this local government initiative. We hope to play our part in ensuring its ongoing success by nurturing best practice wherever it manifests itself.'
John Farrall, national marketing manager, The Document Company Xerox.