Hartlepool Borough Council, like many local authorities, had considerable difficulty in effectively communicating with its large Building Cleaning and School Meals workforce who are dispersed across the town.
Of their 370 staff, a number of these work unsocial hours, few ever visit the main headquarters and almost all have no access to any of the Council IT systems including staff intranet and email. Furthermore, none have Council issued mobile phones.
Employee consultation showed that many employees felt excluded from internal Council communications and generally uninformed on corporate issues. The vast majority of staff said they wanted to be more ‘in the know’ and not be made to feel like second class citizens behind the office-based teams who have access to IT facilities.
In relation to operational matters, management had to rely on site visits, individual telephone calls or cascading messages through supervisors to be able to disseminate information and work instructions to employees.
The OurPeople platform had been a revelation since its launch in the Council’s Sports and Recreation department and seemed to be a good fit for other teams within the Building Cleaning and School Meals teams to achieve their communication goals.
Jeff Mason, Strategic Policy and Facilities Management Manager says “it was clear as soon as it was demonstrated that this was a tool that could enable us to quickly and efficiently connect with all of our employees for the first time.”
With expert support from the OurPeople Customer Success team, Hartlepool Borough Council were soon able to configure the system to meet their needs.
“We then invested time and worked hard to gain buy-in from our workforce, 97% of whom are female and 60% of whom are aged 50+. We highlighted the benefits of this new form of communication to both management and employees, supported individuals as necessary to sign up and access the system and within six months of launch had achieved around 95% take-up.”
The impact of Covid-19 on the Building Cleaning and School Meals workforce in the past year has been huge. Numerous changes to shift patterns, operational requirements and health and safety at work issues have needed to be communicated. OurPeople has been a crucial tool in making sure clear, consistent messages could be instantly delivered to employees.
In a recent staff survey, 99% of the 317 respondents ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that OurPeople now keeps them informed about what’s happening and what is needed within their role. And in December 2020 they were winners of the ‘Best Workforce Initiative’ at the National Service Awards 2020 held by the Association of Public Sector Excellence (APSE).