Dean Shoesmith, London Boroughs of Sutton and Merton
Name: Dean Shoesmith
Position: Executive Head of Human Resources
Organisation: London Boroughs of Sutton and Merton (first UK full shared HR service collaboration between two unitary authorities)
Time in post: 4.5 years in lead shared role, 9 years employed by the London Borough of Sutton as Executive Head of Human Resources.
Number of employees in organisation: shared total is 11,000
Number of people in HR department: shared total is 103 full time equivalents
Latest financial figures/business performance indicators:
£140m annual budget, with a £19K under spend variance at year end.
184,000 residents served
91% of residents consider the borough to be an excellent place to live (see residents’ survey narrative below)
Territories: London (through strategic partnerships also more widely across SE England)
Supporting statement: achievements in 2011/12
The job of any director of every human resources in public service currently is to oversee transformational change (arising from the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review) in terms of how services are provided to residents, the organisation, and the HR function, whilst ensuring we provide high-quality services to our citizens. I have navigated the way for the Council as a whole, whilst also delivering significant change in the HR function:
- I have fulfilled a leadership role for Sutton’s transformation board that has identified £28m savings across the Council. The Smarter Services Sutton programme introduced new ways of working whilst reducing expenditure through: shared services, channel migration, Big Society projects, changes to employees’ terms and conditions of employment (see 8 below) strategic procurement partnerships, business process re-engineering and organisational re-design.
- I have delivered savings in excess of £1m across the HR shared service as a result of this trailblazing transformation programme. We are informed by Local Government Employers this was the first example of a fully shared HR service in Local Government in the country – providing evidence of the groundbreaking nature of what has been achieved. It should be noted the total budget prior to the shared service was £5m i.e. an efficiency saving in excess of 20% has been accomplished through the transformation programme via organisational re-design, de-layering, and efficiency from eradication of duplication. Merton’s HR service was externally assessed as ‘poor’ in 2007 and by 2010 was re-assessed as ‘good’ by the audit commission. This pioneering work has set the standard and blueprint for the remainder of the public sector to follow.
- Allied to the HR shared service transformation programme, I have led the development of a three-Borough strategic HR information system and payroll integration with a successful ‘go live’ for all three partners from 1 April 2012. Noting Sutton has led the change partnership comprising of Sutton, Merton and the Royal Borough of Kingston effectively placing the three Local Authorities on to one common platform and saving £605,000 per annum across the partnership as a result - the total saving being £6.1m for the life of the 10-year programme. The ‘Trinity’ project is the largest strategic procurement programme, with the most fundamental business process re-engineering of its type in Local Government; providing for common HR self-service across the three partner organisations. Trinity has been a crucial second-phase strand of the HR shared service programme, delivering transformation and efficiency with improved productivity through business process re-engineering.
- I have led the second-term letting (1 April 2011) of the London Boroughs’ Recruitment Partnership (LBRP) framework contract for the provision of recruitment and resourcing solutions to London Boroughs and other public sector partners. We know from research undertaken independently by Penna that the LBRP framework is the largest (in financial value) in Local Government – offering best value and quality to the 28-strong partnership. The framework provides up to £1.5m savings per annum through economies of scale to the partners, and co-synchronously high-quality services; as evaluated by the client partners. We have expanded the membership of the LBRP to enable County Councils and other public bodies to gain the benefits from the considerable economies of scale. I led the inception of the LBRP in 2005 and it has continued to produce year-on-year efficiency savings for the 28 partners; ultimately reducing costs for Council tax payers, whilst improving talent management capabilities for those partners.
- In light of the significant changes across the Councils we have supported employees to maintain our good employer brand and employee engagement via outplacement, employee assistance programmes, CV writing, coaching, and advising employees on staff mutual and self-employment options. Our latest employee satisfaction surveys reveal 72% of Sutton’s employees to be well-satisfied with their jobs and 84% agreeing their jobs align directly to organisational success. In Merton, 90% of employees were prepared to go the extra mile to provide good services to residents and the Council.
- I have overseen the design, implementation and embedding of Council-wide Leadership programmes to develop leadership capacity equipping leaders to deal with unparalleled change. The programmes ‘Leading in Challenging Times’ and ‘making Change Happen’ have been rated highly by the Councils’ managers – providing them with the skills, knowledge and behaviours to deliver future-looking public services
- I have overseen work to respond to the recession and the impact upon local young people. The Council’s work to employ and train more local young people as part of our wider corporate social responsibility is evidenced by the employment and training of 86 young people through a variety of methods (apprenticeships, graduate programmes, internships). HR has led by example with 11 such placements (10% of the HR workforce). I have been asked by the CIPD to join their national advisory panel on skills improvement for young people, as part of the new ‘Learning to Work’ campaign given my track record of success in this area - including receiving the national Skills for Life champion award for two consecutive years (2008 and 2009)
- I have led a Sutton negotiating team to reduce terms and conditions across the Council, resulting in excess of £1m savings. This has required a careful strategy to ensure the Council reduces costs whilst not damaging the employer brand and reputation (see 5 above). We have achieved a joint collective agreement with the representative trades unions – unusual in London local government and elsewhere. To realise this achievement we have built upon an approach of openness, transparency, empathy and trust. We were careful to ensure the terms and conditions changes linked to the strategic objectives of the Council. In particular, we have created linkage to the Council’s environmental sustainability strategic objectives and therefore focussed change to support the delivery of those objectives, such as removal of free car parking spaces, removal of car user allowances and change to the car mileage user scheme.
- National speaking events: I have presented keynotes on HR shared services at a variety of national events including the NHS workforce annual conference 2011, and on skills development at the annual business well-being conference, December 2011.
- International speaking and influence: I presented a keynote on the Big Society to the International Public Management Association in Chicago, 2011, and was invited to speak again on HR shared services at Glens Falls in 2011. I have also provided advice to the US Federal Social Security Administration on HR shared services during 2011.
So what? The overall impact
These achievements have ensured a reduction in cost enabling freezing of Council tax. In the meantime the latest annual residents’ satisfaction survey (2011) reveals that 91% residents consider the borough to be an excellent place to live with increasing satisfaction in a range of services provided by the Council, whilst simultaneously reducing costs by £28m from a £140m budget and retaining effective employee engagement. The transformation of HR has provided bona fide leadership and a blueprint for successful change, in the Council and much more widely.