More than 1,100 local authority professionals gathered at Grosvenor House, London, on Thursday, 4 November to celebrate the very best in local government.
The LGC Awards are the biggest and best ceremony recognising the achievements of officers and politicians in local government – and this year’s ceremony was the 25th time the Local Government Chronicle event has been held.
The LGC Awards see entries from council teams across the UK judged by other councils’ senior officers, with the aim being to promote new innovation that can inspire other councils to improve their own services.
Actress, television presenter and comedian Sally Phillips was LGC’s presenter as winners were announced, including Council of the Year, Hounslow LBC.
After excelling during the rigorous judging process, the four councils’ and University of Hull’s project – the Future Work Design (FWD) – emerged as the winner of the Digital Impact category.
FWD, a partnership led by East Riding of Yorkshire Council, has explored the impact of working practice changes due to COVID-19 and has informed strategic decision making.
What is Future Work Design?
The project team developed an online evidence-based risk tool – working with hundreds of staff across four councils – to ensure the right questions were asked to understand the impact of new ways of working, based on digital solutions such as Microsoft Teams, due to the impact of COVID-19 on working practices.
A White Paper captured the qualitative feedback from staff, with some surprising and perhaps not so surprising insights into life working from home, and the use of technology to continue delivering quality services to residents.
The data was then analysed and used to inform the development of strategies, whilst considering staff wellbeing and ensuring the sustainable and ethically correct adoption of digital solutions in the future.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics show that there were 0.8 million work-related stress, depression or anxiety cases (new or longstanding) in 2020, rising from 0.6 million in 2019. This resulted in 17.9 million working days lost in Great Britain, with workload, lack of support, violence, threats of bullying and changes at work estimated to be the main causes, showing to be a growing and expensive problem.
The LGC judges said: "The Future Work Design addresses a major challenge for all local authorities in a creative and purposeful way. The work is hugely replicable and should become the norm for all organisations.
“The topical issues have been addressed in a very creative way and has been built with an academic rigour and focus on diagnostics, which could be replicated in both public and private sector organisations, addressing issues early and supporting staff in the process.”
Councillor Jonathan Owen, leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “Throughout the country, our local authorities have seen a real change in work practices brought about by the pandemic, so with the interconnectivity between us, Hull City, North East Lincolnshire and North Lincolnshire councils and the University of Hull, it has really shown how well we have adapted and reacted through this project.
“And for this work to be recognised with this national award, it is an honour and privilege.”
Brigette Giles, head of digital, change and technology at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, added: “Our team has not only been proud to have led on this innovative project, but is prouder to have won this prestigious award with our partners at the three local LEAs and the University of Hull.
“The collaborative effort that has gone into the work and the data produced has and will continue to benefit the health and wellbeing of LEA staff all across the country.”
Councillor Daren Hale, leader of Hull City Council, said: “This award demonstrates what can be achieved with excellent partnership working.
“We’re delighted to be part of this fantastic project, which we hope will have a positive impact across the country.”
Councillor Philip Jackson, leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “This is a great achievement, and I’m really pleased that our council has played its part.
“I think it’s fair to say that this pandemic has encouraged many organisations and industries, including our own councils, to rethink their traditional approach to working.
“It’s exciting that the Humber region local authorities in collaboration with the University of Hull took part in this, and the developments will help shape the way public and private sector organisations do work in the future.”
Professor Fiona Earle, director of the Centre for Human Factors (CHF) at the University of Hull, said: “This project provided a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with our Local Authority partners.
“Along with Dr Katie Cunnah, operations director for CHF, we explored the real-world challenges facing so many LEA workers in our region. We were able to apply our expertise in workplace stress to develop a remote working stress risk assessment tool that is now widely available.
“We are delighted that the project has been recognised by this prestigious award.”
LGC editor Nick Golding said: “The dedication of councils to supporting their local populations has never been in doubt but they have stepped up to a new level over the course of the pandemic as they innovated to keep residents safe and well.
“To win an LGC Award is the ultimate symbol of the brilliance of council teams – we should be grateful for their work, particularly in difficult times.”
View the complete list of winners at https://awards.lgcplus.com/lgca/en/page/2021-winners
For further information about the FWD project and for a PDF of the Remote Working Stress Risk Tool, please visit https://humanfactors.hull.ac.uk/futureworkdesign/ The tool will be launched on the Health and Safety Executive’s digital platform in the new year, as part of their best-practice approach to managing the risk of stress in the workplace.