Council staff leave over 'lack of trust'

A lack of trust in the leadership was among the top reasons for staff members leaving the Royal Borough council, its Employment Panel heard on Tuesday.

For the last 12 months, feedback has been collected through an anonymous online exit survey. The top three reasons staff cited for leaving were: trust/confidence in the senior leadership, how often work was appreciated, and the honesty/integrity/ethics of the leadership.

However, some committee members were more concerned with the methodology, and the negative framing of the questions used.

Leader of the council, Cllr Simon Dudley was quick to cast doubts on this, saying: “It’s a bit like asking, when did you last beat your wife?”

Cllr Edward Wilson (Con, Clewer South) added: “Lots of people come to me on a daily basis and tell me they don’t like me, it doesn’t mean they’re going to leave.”

There was also some concern about the council’s ability to retain high performing staff, and a workplace culture that meant staff felt unable to speak up.

Cllr Lynne Jones (Old Windsor Residents’ Association, Old Windsor) said: “In my experience staff feel uncomfortable in one-on-one interviews, and don’t feel that they could be truthful.”

On staff turnover, Cllr Dudley (Con, Riverside) said: “The good people always leave, and the people you want to leave, stay.”

The panel voiced concerns about the council’s Employment Wellbeing Plan, which uses stress/depression/anxiety/mental heath/fatigue as a single reason description for absence, In September alone this accounted for nearly 22 per cent of the total sickness absences.

The Wellbeing Plan and Exit Interviews – Action Plan for Staff Turnover – were approved by the panel with several recommendations. 

They included replacing the single category for reasons of absences with three new categories (stress, depression/anxiety and mental health), and compulsory training for managers in mental health first aid.

Vice chairman of the panel, Cllr Eileen Quick (Con, Clewer East) said: “It’s a step in the right direction. It means we will get the best service for our residents by having a happier workforce.”

Are you a current or former Royal Borough employee? We want to know about your experiences of working at the council. Email 

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