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Employment report alarms councillors

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
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Employment report alarms councillors

JUST three percent of employees who leave their jobs with Dumfries and Galloway Council bother to complete an exit interview.

And this has sparked concerns from councillors that some workers may be walking away “under a cloud”.

A new report has revealed that the local authority has a target of 50 percent for staff members sharing their thoughts on their experience working for the council before they head out the door.

But that statistics show that just 3.78 percent did so in 2023/24. This means missing out on useful information about staff turnover and the employment experience.

As the biggest employer in the region – and with some important posts still to be filled – the council clearly has work to do to improve its employee relations.

The matter was discussed at the council’s economy and resources committee on Tuesday.

Annandale South Councillor Sean Marshall said: “The reason given is that this is on a voluntary basis, and I think across industries you can only apply this on a voluntary basis.

“I left an organisation recently and I didn’t mind filling in an exit interview.

“That three percent seems really low and disappointing. I’m just wondering if that’s hiding something.

“What are the reasons behind that? Is it not being pushed by line managers? Are people leaving under a cloud?

“But I just think this (statistic) is very poor and it’d be interesting to get some comparisons with other local authorities.”

Mike Shepley, the council’s head of customer service and digital, said:

“Recruitment is crucial to the council to be able to attract the right talent – and to do so at pace.

“Therefore this has been scrutinised on that basis. It’s a tight market out there and we need to act at pace, so we’ve challenged ourselves to do so.”

The report stated that an improvement plan has been created, which will include the exit interview being automated using an internal computer system.

But Mid Galloway and Wigtown Councillor Katie Hagmann said: “Surely we can’t automate if someone has left the organisation. They won’t have access to these systems.”

Mike Shepley responded: “People will work a notice period before they leave the organisation. In automating the process, it’s anticipated that this would make it simpler for those that wish to leave the organisation.”

Lorna Meahan, the council’s director of economy and resources, added: “I think it’s acknowledged that we do need to promote, both with staff who are leaving, but also with managers to make sure that they’re diligent in encouraging colleagues on a voluntary basis to contribute so that the council can learn from their experience.”

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