Council department with high levels of sickness and vacancies

Council chiefs say they are working hard to support staff in a department which has high sickness levels and job vacancies.

Wednesday, 16th October 2019, 1:56 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd October 2019, 4:10 pm
Sheffield Town Hall

The business support team has had high levels of sickness, performance issues and staff changes. The department works with adoption services but bosses say this has not impacted on finding homes for children.

In a report, officers say: “The service has had changes of staff. The recruitment team manager left in December 2018 and it took some time to replace her.

“The permanent replacement took up post in July and this has impacted upon the team developments as operational leadership has been dispersed across the service.

“Additionally we have had three new social workers join the team. Filling the vacant posts was not easy with adverts having to go out several times. The reasons for this are unclear.

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“The business support team continues to have high levels of sickness and performance issues which impacts upon business continuity.

“The team has also been adjusting to a new service manager and a new assistant director during this year.

“Staff changes have presented difficulties but the restructure has been positive and supported by staff. It has been a busy year and staff have worked hard and responded well to the challenges.”

The average time in days between an adoption order being granted and the decision to match with adoptive families was 159.

Officers say this isn’t as good as last year’s performance when it was 122 days and they haven’t yet met the government target of 121 days.

But they say the data doesn’t cover the time since a dedicated “family finding team” was created.

Paul Dempsey, assistant director of provider services, told a council meeting: “The recruitment of the adoption team manager did take some time.

“Recruiting social workers can be a challenge and it’s the same for managers because sometimes there are not enough people with the skills or qualifications.

“The sickness levels in the business support team and the time taken to find adoptive families is not connected. That’s work done by the adoption team, business support would not have any impact on that.”

Coun Alison Teal said she was concerned stress was an issue but Mr Dempsey said staff were fully supported by the HR department.

“We are working very closely with business support to ensure it’s as efficient as it can possibly be.

“Managers of the business support team will be going through the council’s sickness absence process to find out why people are off and give them support plans.

“We have a new HR process for managing sickness which is very supportive and finds out what support people need to come back to work and puts it in place.

“Some people come back on phased return and some people come back with support plans or amendments to their workload.”