Background and Challenges
Like many other adult social care services, Warrington faced a number of challenges, including the retention of hard working staff, difficulties with recruiting a new generation of social care workers, and providing high levels of care to vulnerable people with reduced budgets and increased expenditure.
Despite ongoing efforts, many areas of the Adult Social Care workforce continue to experience high levels of vacancies and staff turnover, placing increased pressure on the remaining workforce and impacting compliance with statutory duties and functions, also posing a reputational risk for Councils.
In response to these challenges, Warrington Borough Council established a Workforce and HR Strategic Board under the leadership of the Director of Adult Social Care. Additionally, an Operational Group was formed with representatives from across Adult Social Care supporting and shaping the workforce, and providing input into the strategic direction of the organisation.
To underpin the work of both the Strategic and Operational Workforce groups, a Workforce Strategy was required to ensure that Adult Social Care in Warrington Borough Council was on the correct trajectory towards developing a sustainable workforce.
Trueman Change Involvement
In response, the council commissioned Trueman Change to facilitate a culture-first workforce strategy.
Through a collaborative effort, we worked with Warrington's progressive leadership team to create a realistic but ambitious plan that addressed the current gaps in the workforce and prioritised staff well-being and development.
Staff retention had already been identified as a crucial element of service sustainability, and the leadership team were keen to build on their wider workforce offer and great work they already do. Additionally, management were keen to communicate staff wellbeing and development as priorities.
Taking the above into consideration, we worked hand in hand with the leadership team in Warrington to understand their needs, their service users, and their teams to develop a workforce strategy with realistic but ambitious plans.
The project aimed to produce a workforce strategy. But one with a twist – we worked with Warrington to listen to staff, get to grips with communications, culture, processes, systems, and leadership. We then sense-checked what we found to co-produce a strategy with their workforce group, adopting a real-time skills transfer approach.
The initial scope of work included:
- Desktop analysis of the current workforce
- Mapping and understanding of current recognition and progression processes and routes
- Quantifying training, mapping training relevance, analysis of attendance, delivery methods, and use of partners/internal training
Our analysis included a desktop review of the current workforce, mapping and understanding of current recognition and progression processes, quantifying training, analysing attendance, delivery methods, and the use of partners/internal training, a broad understanding of sickness absence and its relation to staff retention, a broader understanding of the Warrington recruitment landscape, and culture mapping.
We provided an interim report on the current situation, including options for the workforce strategy, recommendations for each key area, gaps in the current workforce, workforce projections and planning estimates, staff recognition options, training options, and a draft aim and outline for the new workforce strategy. We then delivered a final report and draft strategy, including a formal report with details of the methodology and all desktop research returned, and a roadmap for the strategy with clear plans, milestones, and actions on how to move from the present to the future workforce. Additionally, we provided clear plans for staff involvement and recommendations, including costings where appropriate, for staff value recognition.
To gain further insight, we conducted 15 individual interviews and nine culture mapping workshops with over 60 colleagues across Warrington's adult social care teams.
Our aim was to encourage open and honest discussions in an informal and safe environment to learn "what it feels like to work in Warrington Adult Social Care." We sought to understand why people join, why they stay, and why they leave. This approach provided us with a rich picture around the impact of behaviours, language, attitudes, policies, and external agencies.
The task force group then held three workshops to agree on themes and priorities and develop an action plan to improve recruitment, retention, and development of the workforce. We also analysed all HR info demographics to gain a comprehensive understanding of the workforce.
Outcomes and Solutions
Trueman Change was able to establish an excellent relationship and communication with the senior leadership team, enabling honest and open discussions. The team identified several areas for improvement, including the development of a career pathway across all roles, enhancement of working relationships across the directorate, and improved recruitment and retention processes to increase efficiency.
Ultimately, the project delivered:
- A Workforce Strategy
- A full report for use internally as documents/presentations
- A SMART action plan to meet the needs of the ASC workforce
Alongside recommendations for further work within the data report to support communication, recruitment, retention, and development.
The resulting strategy and accompanying materials provided a clear plan with milestones and actions for moving towards a sustainable workforce and involved staff at all levels in the process.
With our help, Warrington Borough Council can move forward with a sustainable workforce plan that meets the needs of its ASC community both now and in the future.