Local authorities are experiencing a crisis in staff retention, leading to skills gaps that are having a serious impact on how councils provide services. The annual LGA workforce survey 2022 (ref) found over four-fifths (83 per cent) of councils were experiencing retention difficulties in at least one occupation.
To support councils and help address this, the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) has published Employee Retention – great practice guide. Created in partnership with Colas, the guide has been launched at ADEPT’s Autumn conference.
Staff retention has been a problem for local government for some time. Often in competition with the private sector, councils cannot offer the same salaries and career progression opportunities are not always clear. As a result, it can be difficult to keep hold of skilled employees.
Work initially carried out by the Future Highways Research Group looking at the highways sector found that the number of unfilled vacancies and skills shortages were significant and causing considerable problems for councils. But what also emerged was a number of key measures that employees particularly valued that local authorities could adopt.
Building on this, the Association and Colas brought together key partners to examine the challenges across place services more generally, and to identify great practice examples on how to improve staff retention at all levels. The 11 examples outlined in the guide include professional development, mentoring and support, offering a better work-life balance and training opportunities tailored to place.
Anthony Payne, President of ADEPT said: “There are so many reasons why working in local government is a fantastic choice, but we often struggle to communicate those benefits. The guide is designed to provide local authorities with ideas not only on how to retain staff, but how to be the kind of employer where people are valued and choose to stay.
“Aside from the long term benefits of greater job security and well-structured pension plans, the careers we offer can provide so much variety with the chance to develop across many different areas of interest. Our employees also have an unrivalled opportunity to make a difference to the places and communities where they live.”
Mark Saunders, Client Director at Colas Ltd said: ‘We are happy to be working with ADEPT in the development of this Best Practice Guide. In the course of gathering material for the guide, we spoke to a large number of local authorities and their stakeholders, and the issue of staff retention is common across almost every organisation. It quickly became evident that there is a wealth of good practice and lots of positive ideas about how to address it, I hope this guide proves useful in sharing these.”
For more information about ADEPT’s work with Colas, please visit: https://www.adeptnet.org.uk/workforce