Only 54% ‘proud’ to work for Oldham Council survey shows

OMBC Employee satisfaction

An internal survey of staff employed by Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council has revealed that satisfaction has declined in eight out of the ten areas under scrutiny, writes Neil Wilby.

The most startling is, of course, that only 54% would tell others that they are proud to be part of the organisation. Down from 73% in the last survey, which was carried out in 2016

Half of staff say they would not recommend Oldham Council as ‘a great place to work’, down from 63% five years ago.

The survey also showed that less that one third of staff felt they had received worthwhile training and development, with only 31% indicating that the training they had received over the last year had helped their career – down from 57% in 2016.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader and Joint Leader of the Opposition and a former Leader of the Council, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, says the results of the staff survey show that a long-term culture of falling standards is developing.  

“The Labour administration has failed to get the basics right under successive council leaders and we now have a mountain to climb to get our staff back on board.

“These figures are damning and some of the worst I have ever seen, but they will not be a surprise to those who work for the council.  These results lift the lid on Labour’s Civic Centre culture of complacency and the administration now has mountain to climb to reverse them.
“The Labour leadership has been dragging its feet in publishing these results and now we know why.  We have just had our second change of Labour leadership in as many years.  Without a motivated and trained workforce there is no chance of improving customer services and some of the basic services the council taxpayer expects and deserves.” he added.

By way of response, recently appointed Deputy Chief Executive of Oldham Council, Sayyed Osman, said: “Oldham Council staff have worked incredibly hard throughout the pandemic, with our colleagues working under pressure to deliver consistent front-line services for our residents, amid staff shortages and worrying health headlines. Our staff members have been resilient and hard-working, and we’ve seen many positive outcomes from such a challenging period.

“We know from benchmarking across other local authorities that there has been a drop in staff satisfaction across the public sector overall. However, we’re very pleased that the majority of our people feel Oldham Council is a great place to work and are happy to recommend the Council as an employer.

“We will continue to build on this and have put staff training and wellbeing firmly on our agenda.”

Neil Wilby comments, from the standpoint of a journalist who routinely deals with departments such as Constitutional Services, Election Services, Legal Services, Communications and Strategy, Information Management and, of course, the Executive Management Team:

“I’ve dealt with a considerable number of employees at the Council over the past two years and have only once detected disquiet and dissatisfaction. That employee, part of the EMT at the time, has since left the organisation. 

“Apart from Constitutional Services, which appears to have a culture problem all of its own, almost invariably staff at Oldham Council, from the excellent reception staff and onwards, are cheerful and helpful. Although, at times, appearing to lack requisite knowledge or training or the expected level of functionality. Particularly, in the Information Management and Legal Services departments.

“Sayyed Osman would strike this journalist as an odd choice of spokesperson for the Council after less than three months in his role, speaking of the pandemic when he was deployed in a different Lancashire town during its height. It will be interesting to hear what the new Council Leader, Cllr Amanda Chadderton, has to say in response to Cllr Sykes’ remarks. Particularly, in the light of her edict to all Civic Centre staff around a year ago imploring a raising of standards and performance.

“Much as I admire Cllr Sykes, more generally as a sound citizen and solid politician, it is hard to agree that the out-turn from this survey can be laid at the door of past Council Leaders (there have been five in past seven years) rather than very handsomely paid executive officers”. 

Three of those past Leaders have been approached for comment: Jim McMahon, Sean Fielding and Arooj Shah. Similarly, the Council’s press office has been approached for a comment from Cllr Chadderton.

Page last updated `Monday 6th June, 2022 at 1415hrs

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Picture credits: Hawwa Alam – Resistance Lab

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Published by Neil Wilby

Former Johnston Press area managing director. Justice campaigner. Freelance investigative journalist.

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