Bedford Borough Council staff ‘concerned and anxious’ over restructuring and returning to the workplace

Bedford Borough Hall

Poor communication from the management is causing concerns and anxiety for Bedford Borough staff, a meeting heard.

The Bedford Borough Council Employee Partnership meeting (21 September) was told by trade union rep Kiran Mal (Unison) that a lack of communication on returning to the workplace and potential restructuring is causing concerns and anxiety for Borough workers.

“What is happening with restructuring?”, she asked. “We appreciate that there have been many changes to senior management, but there have been no further communications to what is going on.”

She accepted that there has been some sharing of information, but “there’s been no formal introduction” to what the timescales are.

“Our members are requesting that we fall back to a situation where we would have drop-in centres where everyone would be updated in respect of what is taking place”, she said.

“There is a lot of concern for my members and it’s causing great anxiety at this moment in time.”

Alison Macaulay, manager for HR strategy & workforce development, said that the position on returning to the workplace remains unchanged and staff are continuing to work from home whenever possible.

“There are FAQs that are being prepared in relation to agile working and these are being shared with the trade unions before being communicated more widely,” she said.

Addressing the points on any potential restructuring, Ms Macaulay said: “The proposals are still being considered and as these emerge they will be shared through the appropriate mechanisms.

“Each directorate does have a change champion in place and they are representing the interests of the teams.

“So some staff can go to their change champion to ask questions. The change champions and their role is included in the FAQs.”

Cllr Sue Oliver (Labour, Kempston North Ward) said: “It is well-known that it is much better to tell people in advance and tell them several times in advance and not in retrospect.

“I think that has been the problem – perhaps not enough communication in advance of what was happening.

“When you’re busy at work you don’t always have the time to go through and gather that information, it is better that information comes to you.”

Mark Stephens (acting chief executive) said: “I think there has been quite regular communications and I’ve had sessions with quite a number of staff members in different forums.

“I will contest that there has been no communication, but I will take on board the points that have been made.”

by John Guinn Local Democracy Reporter

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