Agenda item

Agenda item

Progress report on strategic framework for O&S Committee 26 November 2020

Report of Executive Head of Strategy and Communications and Head of Enterprise Programme Management Office


Scrutiny members received the report of the Executive Head of Strategy and Communications and Head of Enterprise Programme Management Office setting out progress on the key elements of the council’s strategic framework comprising the Council Plan 2020-24 and Delivery Plan 2020-22; the Organisational Development Strategy 2020-24 and Delivery Plan; and Covid-19 Road to Renewal Plan. 


In order to focus on the main issues for consideration, members were provided with a short presentation.  The Executive Head of Strategy and Communications, Head of Enterprise Programme Management Office and Executive Head of Human Resources and Organisational Development presented the different strands of the strategic framework and answered scrutiny members’ questions. 


It was noted that the Council Plan, which covered a four year period, was intended to strengthen the council‘s corporate framework, establishing its purpose, ambitions and how these would be achieved.  The Delivery Plan, translated these ideas into outcomes over the next 18 month period.  The documents were underpinned by the budget and had been shared across services and the organisation to gather views and buy-in from staff who were pivotal to ensuring their success.


The strategic framework provided focus to the council’s response to Covid and how it would support residents and businesses.  Quarterly updates on progress, one report per plan, were being provided to Cabinet and Overview and Scrutiny Committee.  Residents would also be updated annually in About Watford.


In response to questions from scrutiny members, the following points were raised:


           As part of its renewed commitment to local businesses, the council had commissioned Wenta to provide governance advice, guidance and support.

           Work on the new building at Watford Business Park had been agreed and commenced prior to the current pandemic.  It was a long term project intended to provide more modern, flexible space for smaller businesses which would complement existing buildings predominantly occupied by larger companies.

           Around 50% of staff had stated that they would like more flexible working arrangements in the future.  Regular surveys were taken every 6-8 weeks to monitor aspirations.  Although face-to-face interaction was still wanted, it was anticipated that staff would return to the office for two or three days a week in the future.

           Only a small number of officers had contracted Covid 19; the exact number would be confirmed outside the meeting.  However, it was acknowledged that this figure would not be robust in the absence of accurate testing early in the pandemic. 

           As for other illnesses, Covid cases were recorded as sickness absences, but did not attract management procedures and processes to ensure that staff did not feel a pressure to return to work too soon.

           The Managing Director was clear that the wellbeing of staff was a top priority for the council.  A wide ranging employee assistance programme was available for staff who were ill, or who had been shielding or supporting relatives.  This included free and confidential counselling, information and signposting through a dedicated area of the council’s intranet, access to employee mental health first aiders as well as managerial and HR support. Further initiatives were being reviewed.

           The council’s Staff Ambassadors Group was a grouping of around 32 staff from all levels of the authority who provided two-way feedback and understanding to Leadership Board on a range of council initiatives.  It had its origins in the Watford 2020 pulse group which had successfully provided feedback on the impacts of the cross-council transformation programme.  The Staff Ambassadors Group was led by the Managing Director and met approximately every 4-6 weeks. 

           The council’s mental health champion, Councillor Rabi Martins, suggested that the council’s significant and impressive focus around mental health issues, and the steps taken to be mindful of the impacts of current working arrangements on staff, should be highlighted and shared with local businesses as an exemplar of good practice. 




that Overview and Scrutiny Committee notes the progress report.


Action: Executive Head of Human Resources and Organisational Development

Supporting documents:


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