Sarah Barron: working ‘smarter’, achieving savings and driving forward performance

How can we work ‘smarter’ and achieve the savings we need yet still expect people to drive forward performance?

Driving forward change during a time of austerity and cost saving strategies has not been an easy task.  Working with a staff group of 7,000 and across a landscape covering over 3,000 square miles, the approach we have taken at North Yorkshire County Council has been three-fold: developing technology solutions to enable better working and improved performance, driving forward a property rationalisation programme, and taking a fresh look at how we navigate the complexities of cultural change.

We know that not everyone works in the same way or has the same demands during their daily work and our ‘Modern Council’ programme has enabled us to comprehensively transform our organisation.  The development of this approach began in a period of considerable flux that included a need for £140M of recurring savings. Yet, it was recognised that investment was required across the Local Authority to develop IT infrastructure, to undertake a significant review of the property portfolio and to drive forward the values and behaviours through a staff that were experiencing significant changes to roles and in excess of 300 restructures.  This is a key priority for North Yorkshire County Council and the necessary investment required to deliver technological advancement and connect with our customers in a new and different way has paid dividends in transforming our approach to work and engagement with our communities.

The property development has allowed for significant refurbishment across the NYCC estate and enabled a smarter working environment, challenging the ways we work and to look for customer focused solutions.  In late 2017 we shifted the focus with cultural change and refreshed our approach.  Listening to staff views in focus groups and asking key questions in staff surveys were just two of our approaches to develop engagement and dialogue.  We place importance on ‘trust’ and we deliver the Modern Council approach in recognition of agreed values and principles and how we live these through our behaviours.  We listened to staff in our annual survey and we are building on what staff value most – team connections and flexible working conditions.

Enabling technology and collaborative spaces in our workplace provide forums for team connectivity and encourages innovation, whether in person or through the use of technology bringing the team together by connecting across remote locations, transforming the culture and performance of the organisation.  North Yorkshire County Council, delivering exceptional services to our communities and bringing our modern council to life.

Sarah Barron is a Senior Human Resources Advisor at North Yorkshire County Council, and will be speaking on transforming the local authority workplace, at the Public Sector Solutions Expo on 20 November. To register or find out more, please click here.