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The energy crisis – rate your council’s resilience in 30 minutes

by | Jul 29, 2021 | Adult social care, Local government transformation, Place | 0 comments

The implications of the ‘energy crisis’ will start to become more apparent as the year unfolds

We recently co-produced a report with the County Councils Network – ‘Riding the waves – strengthening council resilience’ – which highlighted that organisational resilience must be deliberately invested in. When staff are adrenally exhausted, their ability to step up to the next challenge is very limited. As one of our interviewees put it – ‘willingness is trumping wellbeing’.

The implications of this ‘energy crisis’ in local government are already being felt but will start to become more apparent as the year unfolds. Frontline teams and managers have been running on empty for a while. Whilst their commitment remains undimmed, their effectiveness, decision-making ability and confidence have noticeably dipped as a result.

We are starting to see frontline staff and manager sickness absences increase – largely for mental health reasons. Levels of staff attrition are increasing, and perhaps unexpectedly, many people approached ‘Freedom Day’ with trepidation rather than excitement. Humans are hard-wired to find change of any kind unappealing, and moving from one state (locked down) to another (hybrid working and learning to live with Covid-19) is just the next change which increases uncertainty and anxiety.

The management and leadership challenge in the sector is more challenging than ever. Last week we convened a private discussion with 10 Chief Executives, on the topic of the energy crisis faced by those working in public services, and it is clear that this challenge has affected senior leadership teams just as much as frontline staff.

There are (of course) no easy answers. However, there are three emerging themes:

  1. Public sector work provides staff with a mission and purpose that is of real value. Reinvigorating staff to get out of bed in the morning will reconnect them with their job and mission of the organisation.
  2. A feeling of connection to leadership is absolutely vital. If leaders do not understand the issues staff are facing, confidence levels in middle management will reduce. Staff must receive the guidance, safe space, and direction required to prioritise properly (including reducing workload). The usual hands-off/empowerment approach is not always sufficient.
  3. There is a unique opportunity to take the innovation inherent in lockdown and leap towards a new model of working. The pandemic has exposed ineffective styles of management and opened up a model where productivity is increased by empowering people to take control of their time and ownership of decisions. We must harness this.

Despite the energy crisis our clients are facing, we are really proud of the impact they are achieving – both on improvement in outcomes for people and on shifting system performance (including, but not limited to, reducing spending). We continue to work with organisations across the country to understand their organisational resilience capabilities, using our Resilience Framework – a checklist to self-assess the resilience levels of your organisation in just 30 minutes.

Download IMPOWER’s Resilience Framework or get in touch if you would like us to help you complete the tool.