When you have overmanning in an organisation, such as a local authority, sickness absenteeism is noticed much less.
Bloated staffing levels also encourage a tendency to send staff off on training courses to pass the time. Often the topics will be esoteric with little or no practical benefit. Councillors who have tried to get hold of a housing officer or planning officer or social worker and been told they off on a course to discuss diversity or health and safety will be familiar with this phenomenon.
Among the changes:
- Spending on training per employee annually is down from £194 to £178.
- Working days lost through training per employee is down from 1.4 days to 0.9 days.
- Sickness absence is down to 8.2 days per employee from 8.6 days.
- Interest in mutuals has increased. Requests to start them have been received by 7% of councils, up from 3% the previous year.
- Those using "time served" as the basis for pay rises for most staff is down to 70% from 72% while those with a system of performance related pay for most staff is up to 19% from 18%.
- While total staff numbers are down, the number of apprenticeships and work experience placements are slightly up.
So modest changes but significant if the trend is maintained and accelerated. They offer a few clues as to how councils have managed to absorb large budget cuts while improving services as measured by residents satisfaction levels.