improved employee morale and motivation • greater productivity

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					RESOURCES SCRUTINY GROUP –21 OCTOBER 2003                                ITEM   6
INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS

REPORT OF THE HEAD OF COMMUNICATIONS


Summary

1.    This report is an update on progress with developing and implementing an
      Internal Communications Strategy.

Recommendation

It is RECOMMENDED that

      the strategy and actions listed in this paper are noted.

Details

The Internal Communications strategy

2.    In December 2002 the Council adopted a new Internal Communications
      Strategy. This set out to recognise the importance of internal communications
      when delivering excellent services and the importance of each member of
      staff.

3.    The current Rushcliffe Borough Council Corporate Plan states ‘we recognise
      that our employees are our most valuable assets, vital to the excellent
      services we provide. We will endeavour to maintain good employee relations
      to ensure maximum performance and productivity.’

4.    The Strategy seeks to draw together the many good examples of internal
      communications within the Council and set down a coherent plan to raise
      standards of staff satisfaction and, therefore, quality of service.

5.    Effective internal communications is a key to:

      •   improved employee morale and motivation
      •   greater productivity
      •   lower absenteeism and turnover
      •   stronger commitment to organisational goals
      •   more job satisfaction
      •   effective external communications

6.    A key element of the strategy is to survey staff annually to monitor trends in
      each of the above, as well as measuring satisfaction with various aspects of
      internal communications.

7.    Staff surveys were undertaken in 2001 and 2003. A comparison of the results
      are attached as appendix 1.

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Internal communication methods

8.    The key ideas which are being implemented include a continuation of those
      elements which already work well, including:

      •   the staff newsletter (printed publication every two months – Rushcliffe
          Round-up)
      •   weekly Staff Matters (emailed to all staff)
      •   circulation of Members Matters
      •   copies of key publications for all staff (eg Corporate Plan, residents’
          newsletters, guide to councillors, A-Z of services etc)
      •   Promoting a more open culture - eg the Chief Executive writing a regular
          column in the staff newsletter, sending regular emails to all staff about
          matters of importance (eg progress with Comprehensive Performance
          Assessment), holding annual talks with the Leader to all staff on progress
          being made with key objectives and performance measures
      •   Members receive a weekly Members’ Matters, a monthly Members’
          Monthly and bulletins on matters requiring more depth
      •   Building on the appraisal system - these are the key meetings at which
          managers and staff articulate their views on their roles, training required
          and discuss service and personal development.

Investors in People

9.    The Internal Communications Strategy was developed as part of the bid to
      achieve Investors in People (IiP) status. The aim was to ensure that not only
      did the Council achieve IiP, but continues to retain it through a gradual
      structured improvement of internal communications. Investors in People status
      confirms that the Council trains, develops and invests in staff – and improved
      internal communications is vital to ensure that staff remain informed, involved
      and engaged in delivering good customer service. Even though the Council
      has received the IiP award, it is a continuous and ongoing process to develop
      employees and the Council will be regularly assessed to ensure that it
      continues to meet the stringent indicators.

10.   The first attitude survey into internal communications was undertaken in
      March 2003 and the results were evaluated by our market research agency
      BMG. Some of the key findings are:

      •   Council staff agree that they are well informed about the services offered
          by the Council (62% agree, 20% strongly agree).

      •   77% feel informed about Rushcliffe’s aims and objectives. But a significant
          minority do not feel well informed about the Council’s aims and objectives.
          There will be an opportunity to address this as the new Corporate Plan is
          developed.

      •   66% of staff agree that regular team meetings are held within their service
          area - but there is variation across the Council and it is vital that all service
          areas hold regular team meetings. Findings suggest that these meetings
          are a key source of internal communication.

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      •   Respondents were asked to select which methods of communication they
          felt kept them informed, choosing as many as applicable from a list. The
          four most popular methods, according to proportions who agree/agree
          strongly are:
             staff newsletter (90%),
             Staff Matters (83%),
             team meetings (77%) and
             information from my manager (77%).
      •   The most popular actions thought to improve communications in terms of
          mean ratings include an employee suggestion scheme, team briefings, and
          a redeveloped Intranet. These were closely followed in popularity by a
          more open culture/management style and more customer feedback.

      •   Staff participating in the survey were asked which of a selection of
          communications training they would benefit from. The most popular
          proved to be report writing (26%), presentation skills (24%) and letter
          writing (20%).

Future developments

11.   A series of new initiatives to improve internal communications are now at
      various stages of development. These include:

      •   Communications training – initially training at every induction session of
          new employees. A series of courses for staff will be developed based on
          issues identified via annual appraisals eg in report writing, letter writing,
          presentation skills etc. In addition, senior officers and Cabinet Members
          will be receiving media training.

      •   A communications manual is being prepared which will contain advice on
          plain English, proofreading and guidance on all aspects of written, visual
          and oral communications. It will also cover protocols on speaking to the
          media, electronic communications and printed communications.

      •   An internal ideas group has been set up comprising non-managerial staff
          from across the Council with the remit to be innovative and put forward
          ideas to improve internal communications. This group has developed and
          received approval for a new employee suggestion scheme the
          ‘Rushcliffe Ideas Bank’ which will incentivise and reward staff who have
          good ideas. The employee suggestion scheme will be launched in
          November.

      •   A new Intranet will be launched at the end of October and will form the
          centrepiece of internal communications. The site will be composed of
          several areas and the intranet will be developed over time. Sections on
          the intranet include the new employee suggestion scheme,
          communications manual, the document centre, tools and resources
          commonly used by staff, human resources, a staff noticeboard, help and
          frequently asked questions and ‘mini’ sites so that teams can develop their
          own content.

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       •   Discovery days - where appropriate staff can learn more about service
           delivery in other service areas which impact upon the work they do. This
           will be agreed as part of the annual performance review.

       •   Annual staff survey – to monitor and track trends to inform Investors in
           People and the progress which is being made with improving internal
           communications.

Background Papers Available for Inspection:

•   Internal Communications Strategy
•   Investors in People internal communications survey




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