The four Local Authorities (LAs) in the Humber Region (East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Hull City Council, North Lincolnshire Council and North East Lincolnshire Council) are collaborating to undertake an innovative project with Psychologists from the University of Hull exploring the impact on staff of recent changes to working practices.
Funded by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government via the Local Digital COVID-19 Challenge Fund, the overarching aim of the project is to gather information about staff experiences to inform strategic decision-making around future working practices that will maximise productivity, efficiency and wellbeing.
The project involves qualitative data collection via 32 focus groups (8 for each LA) conducted via Microsoft Teams, enabling consultation with a range of different types of staff across the four LAs. This has meant that the team has been able to capture experiences as broadly as possible across the diverse services and roles. The issues we have been exploring include:
• The practices staff have adopted to get the job done since the beginning of lockdown;
• What staff feel the benefits of working in these ways have been, and the challenges they’ve experienced, personally and professionally;
• What they have needed, received or provided from a management point-of-view;
• Communication strategies within and between teams;
• What they would like to see remain in the future.
The data is being used to develop a bespoke survey, unique to the Local Authority context, that will enable the future collection of data around the prevalence of the issues and views raised in focus groups. The outputs of the project include the survey itself which will be distributed by the LAs to their staff after the completion of this project, a white paper reporting the qualitative findings, and a series of Working Practice Profiles that describe the experiences of staff in roles that have specific ways of working – for example, those who are primarily office-based, those whose roles involve home visits, and those who have customer contact roles. All of the outputs are designed to be of use and of relevance to national LA contexts.
The project concludes at the end of September, after which the survey will be disseminated to LA teams and the outputs will become available to national LAs.