Poor monitoring leaves councils in dark over why staff come and go

The failure to find out why staff are joining or leaving is
hindering council employment strategies, according to a

Research published this week by the Audit Commission reveals that
only one in five former public sector workers receive an exit
interview or questionnaire.

Those who were asked why they were leaving blamed stress caused by
bureaucracy, lack of resources and excessive workloads. Pay was the
biggest single factor that could have enticed them to stay.

The negative image of public sector work also affects staff. One
former social services employee said: “I rarely tell people what I
do because of the stigma that goes with it – you’re damned if you
do, you’re damned if you don’t. Social workers can never

The report highlights the need for people’s experiences of work to
match their expectations, and for the workplace to help staff make
a positive difference for service users.

It also warns that recruitment problems will get worse if effective
solutions are not found, particularly given the age profile of
staff in some key professions.

The report highlights the lack of easily comparable information
about vacancies across the sector, and calls on government to
develop a shared definition of a vacancy.

It adds that the Office of Public Sector Reform should take on a
central co-ordinating role to enable the collection of information
about recruitment and retention initiatives at a national and local
level and ensure the spread of best practice.

Local employers should develop a recruitment and retention strategy
and monitor turnover and job satisfaction.

Public sector union Unison described the report as a wake-up call
to government, adding that it endorsed its own findings of a
growing crisis with potentially disastrous consequences for key
public services, particularly social care.

“The government must deal with this crisis now by making sure that
there are decent wages and conditions,” Unison deputy general
secretary Keith Sonnet said. “It can no longer take for granted the
goodwill and commitment of the public sector workforce.”

– Recruitment and Retention – A Public Service Workforce for
the 21st Century
from the Audit Commission on 0800 502030.

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