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STAFF ARE THE MISSING LINK IN SERVICE IMPROVEMENT PLAN

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This week's national Employers' Organisation for local government conference, Improvement Through People, explained...
This week's national Employers' Organisation for local government conference, Improvement Through People, explained why people are the missing link in service improvement plans.

Keynote speaker Denise Kingsmill, chair of the DTI's Accounting for People Taskforce said: 'Every organisation now claims commitment to recruiting, training and developing the best people, but we now need to demonstrate how people are being managed as this vital asset.'

The Question Time session, chaired by Will Hutton of the Work Foundation, asked delegates for their opinions on what is stopping local government achieve service improvement. The panel dealt with questions such as - 'How can we balance staff investment with service cuts?' and 'How can a poor or weak rated council achieve some quick wins in recruitment and retention?'

Panel member Richard Robson, chief executive of Tynedale DC, provided a lively insight into the process of cultural change in a small district: 'Always try to present a positive attitude, and recognise the impact of negative behaviour on the workforce, who will assume something terrible is about to happen!'

This was supported by Les Elton, chief executive of Gateshead MBC: 'Everyone must understand the vision and council objectives and members play a key part in communicating this. Every member of staff is a leader and we must facilitate innovation within the workforce.'

Local government minister Phil Hope, launching the EO/ODPM Pay and Workforce Strategy, reinforced the need for better communication and inclusive work environments: 'This strategy forms the basis of our joint working with local government - increased funding alone won't improve services, people will.

There is no tension between investing in staff and investing in improved service delivery. If the role of councils changes, then jobs change - through training staff for new skills requirements we can also achieve new ways of working.'

Tracey Connage, assistant director of best practice at the EO concluded: 'All of the speakers at today's event have demonstrated how people and performance are intrinsically linked - you can't have one without the other.'

1.The Employers' Organisation for local government was established in April 1999 by the Local Government Association. The EO's role is to support local authorities by providing expert advice and leading the formulation of employers' policies on people management and development in local government.

2.Further information about the EO is available from our website at: www.lg-employers.gov.uk

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