Our ambition is for the council to be a fabulous place to work, through exceptional employee experience, talented managers and leaders, and a culture underpinned by our values, kindness, fairness and equality.
Over the last year, I’ve continued to write a weekly message to staff to ensure all employees are aware of what is happening in the council. My aim is to ensure employees feel a sense of purpose in their work – doing our best for Shetland. A sense of purpose is critical for employees to maximise their full potential, it sparks creativity and intensifies focus on work. Employees who are connected with an inner purpose are more fulfilled, more passionate, healthier and more invested in the success of their organisation. The feedback from the Viewpoint Survey in 2021 showed this regular communication was valued by staff and contributed to engagement scores improving across the organisation. The Viewpoint Survey will be carried out again towards the end of 2023 with results available in early 2024.
The staff message also encourages a sense of community and connection, and ‘working well together’ is one of our core values. In an increasingly hybrid or digital world, it is essential to invest in relationships and I encourage employees each week to find the time and space to connect with each other. Having close relationships at work is the most important factor in job satisfaction – it supports employee engagement, improves the quality of work, improves customer satisfaction, promotes wellbeing and reduces the risk of workplace accidents.
We will maintain a clear focus on delivering excellent services to the public.
Shetland Islands Council’s Best Value Audit Report published in 2022 stated:
In 2020/21, the council’s performance was in the top quartile in over half of the relevant indicators. Its performance relative to other councils improved between 2016/17 and 2020/21. The council performs well compared to other councils in adult social care services and A-class roads maintenance.
The council’s performance improved in half of the relevant national benchmarking indicators over the last five years, and the rate of improvement has generally been faster than the Scottish average.
In 2019/20, Shetland had some of the highest Local Government Benchmarking Framework service satisfaction scores in Scotland.
We will deliver strong Leadership of Place- enabling facilitating and stimulating opportunities for Shetland.
We have developed a political engagement strategy which tells Shetland’s story – ‘It’s all happening in Shetland’. This highlights the contribution that Shetland already makes to the Scottish and UK economy and the support that Shetland needs to realise its full potential. The engagement strategy has resulted in significant investment being secured, including the successful Levelling Up Bid for the Fair Isle Ferry and associated infrastructure, North Isles Broadband funding through the UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the Islands Deal, recognition of the Orion Project in the Scottish Government’s Hydrogen Action Plan, fair ferry funding and the Space Pathfinder project.
Our communications will enable us to clearly explain the challenges and opportunities to our workforce, community, partners and other key stakeholders and to engage them in being a part of the solutions, further strengthening these vital relationships and collaborative working.
The council budget setting process for 2023/4 was supported by a communication strategy. During 2022/23, we issued a series of documents explaining the challenges of rising costs, funding which does not increase with inflation, rising demands for services due to the cost of living, an aging demographic and COVID impacts, rising staff vacancies and recruitment challenges. The staff message was also used as a mechanism for engaging our workforce in the challenges that the organisation is facing and the need to change delivery models specifically around the vacancies to reduce expenditure of relief and agency staff.
As the cost of living crisis developed through 2022, the council and its partners developed a communication strategy to ensure that individuals who were experiencing hardship could access support. This resulted in a social media campaign, a leaflet to each household in Shetland, a short film and communication with employees, services across the public and third sector, as well as practical support for community events offering warmth and companionship, clothes, fuel, household items and food.
Our Climate Change Strategy Team have a communications strategy to support the development of the Net Zero Route Maps for both Shetland Islands Council and Shetland Islands as a whole. A Shetland Climate Change Steering Group has recently been formed to build on from the Shetland Net Zero Route Map learnings and create a place-based climate change strategy and action plan for Shetland.
We will work with our partners and our community to deliver our priorities through effective leadership, governance and democratic processes.
During 2022, the Shetland Partnership Management and Leadership Team began developing a new accessible website developed and hosted by Shetland Islands Council to promote the work of the Partnership to reduce inequality of outcome in Shetland, and to promote how we tackle the issues that mean some people and communities have a poorer quality of life than others. The Partnership has also been preparing a new approach to delivery planning to move from a three-year plan to a rolling, live, programme of projects and work, published and updated on the dedicated Shetland Partnership website. This flexible approach and focus on projects/programmes of work will allow for more frequent updates and greater opportunities for involvement in delivering and shaping delivery of our shared priorities.