• Steve Stuart

Happy New Year?

I’ve never been a fan of New Year


The one thing it has done for me however was prepare me for the experience of external change consultants coming into local councils.


There is excited anticipation, you are endlessly polite to people you’ve never seen before (come the end of the night you hope to never see again), it’s ultimately disappointing and failed to come anywhere near to live up to the expectations. Then on top of that you are left with either a hang over or with an enormous mess to clear up. You also wonder just how you managed to spend that much money.


And with change consultants you don’t even get a kebab.


However I have thought of something that may be worse than New Year. It’s New Year….but in April.





At the end of the year people plan and make resolutions.


With gyms and swimming pools reopening next week one cannot help but think that their will be folks that return to exercise with the gusto normally reserved for January. The snowy flurries and arctic cold that you meet when heading outside seeing recycling bins overflowing with the cardboard and packaging from Easter all adds to the feeling that 2021 is actually about to start now.


New Year has always been an engine for the recruitment industry. As well as looking forward people also reflect. This often involves considering their jobs, or indeed their careers.


People look for new roles, which opens up opportunities for others behind them.

The impacts on this for Councils and specifically Children's Services departments should not be underestimated.


Those council’s that have taken up the option of a Vric Consulting Workforce Assessment have seen that their leaving rate amongst Social Work Professionals generally halved during 2020. But the question needs to be asked are these leavers content in their jobs (or more worryingly their professions) or have they deferred decisions on their futures until later on?


And is that later on actually now?


Even if the deferment related to a standard leavers rate prior to the pandemic it is reasonable to expect that these councils, should they not take any action, will see a leavers rate in the 12 months from April 2021 will be treble that in the 12 months to September 2020.


Those Children’s Services Departments that can move from a reactive to proactive standpoint when it comes to workforce could even profit from this engine of worker flow. Those however that are blind to the dangers may find themselves significantly impacted, a different kind of COVID second wave but, speaking purely from a workforce perspective no less impactful.


Initial actions need to include staff engagement, target setting, leadership visibility and work on career pathways. How on earth though can you seek to deliver this when everyone is working so hard to just keep delivering under very trying circumstances?


Where’s that number for the change consultants?


About the author: Steve Stuart is the Founding Consultant at Vric Consulting, a specialist consultancy and research body that amongst other things seeks to support Children’s Services Departments on workforce matters including recruitment, retention, strategy and staff engagement. All commissions are dependent on the creation of a piece of research that will support evidence based decision making on workforce matters.

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