26 September 2012

Temporary overload

Mr Mustard took too many clothes for his 4 day trip in the Ardennes
Barnet Council is over-burdened with consultants, interims, town hall tax dodgers, agency staff (largely through Hays) and temporary staff of every description. Managing an organisation of 3,000 when a third of them are not part of permanent teams is a ridiculous way of going on. When you start a new job it takes weeks or months to find your way around, get to know who is who in the organisation, where everything is, what procedures are, even what the council does, never mind becoming part of a team that gells together.

Mr Mustard is not a football fan (although he has been to a Barnet FC game) but he thought he would compare Barnet Council as a team to whoever was top of the premiership when he started this posting which turned out to be Chelsea (Mr Mustard had no idea). Their squad of 25 has averaged 90 games apiece. Not got nine players on temporary loan have they? (if they have Mr Mustard wouldn't know).

Now let us look at Barnet Council squad numbers which Mr Mustard obtained under the FOI legislation and very useful it is too. As it happens the council now publish staff numbers in the quarterly performance reviews of each directorate.

Directorate Hays Casual Both Estab. %
Adult Social Care 70 10 80 318 25%
Children's Service 100 330 430 996 43%
Chief Executives Service 35 4 39 401 10%
Commercial Service 41 0 41 138 30%
Corporate Governance 19 2 21 81 26%
Deputy Chief Executive Service 38 8 46 210 22%
Environment Planning and Regeneration 162 85 247 869 28%
Totals 465 439 904 3,013 30%

That is an awful lot of temporary help. Some departments are almost exclusively run by temps. Blue badges is one of them where Mr Mustard is informed that there is only one permanent employee who isn't even full time and so one isn't too surprised when you hear of the delays in renewing a blue badge. It takes months for a new employee to become comfortable in a new role and for a team of workers to gel. Wheover designed this policy which is intended to minimise redundancy pay when the huge One Barnet changes occur has not factored into the equation the lower productivity that the average temp will have compared to an average employee, the extra cost of employing temps and the lack of team spirit which, although hard to measure, makes all the difference when a department is under pressure.

Contrast this with Chelsea FC

Squad member Position Nationality Played
1. Petr Cech Goalkeeper Czech 260
2. Branislav Ivanovic Defender Serbian 111
3. Ashley Cole Defender English 185
4. David Luiz Defender Brazilian 35
5. Michael Essien Midfielder Ghanaian 163
7. Ramires Midfielder Brazilian 62
8. Frank Lampard Midfielder English 378
9. Fernando Torres Forward Spanish 50
10. Juan Mata Forward Spanish 37
11. Emboaba Oscar Midfielder Brazilian 2
12. Mikel Midfielder Nigerian 164
15. Florent Malouda Midfielder French 149
16. Raul Meireles Midfielder Portuguese 31
17. Eden Hazard Midfielder Belgian 4
19. Paulo Ferreira Defender Portuguese 134
21. Marko Marin Midfielder German 0
22. Ross Turnbull Goalkeeper English 4
23. Daniel Sturridge Forward English 58
24. Gary Cahill Defender English 12
26. John Terry Defender English 374
28. Cesar Azpilicueta Defender Spanish 0
30. Yossi Benayoun Midfielder Israeli 8
34. Ryan Bertrand Defender English 11
35. Lucas Piazon Midfielder Brazilian 0
40. Henrique Hilario Goalkeeper Portuguese 20
Total matches played



Now stop and think. Chelsea are (or at least were) top of the league and have a fairly stable workforce (that is what players are)  and they score goals.

Barnet Council chop and change their team all of the time and couldn't hit a barn door most of the time.

Perhaps the Barnet Council high percentage of temporary help policy is the wrong one?

The other strange point is the use of 439 casuals who are on the Barnet Council payroll. The Hays contract becomes a contract with Comensura next month and so is coming to an end but when it was signed up for in February 2008 some of the justification was the following:

The contract will enable the council to achieve better control and value for money in the recruitment of temporary staff

The Hays Temp Desk arrangement, operating for 3 years has achieved savings of more than £2.5m. They complete all the recruitment, saving Barnet staff across all service areas, considerable time and enabling the Council to achieve temp staff rates 20-25% less than if we purchased on the open market.

Through the existence of a centralised agency temp desk, the Council can control and monitor its use of temporary workers and the agencies that supply temporary workers to London Borough of Barnet, thereby achieving better control of temporary staff costs and visibility to reduce expenditure and improve performance from suppliers.

They were words, just words, empty words, space filling words and then many parts of the council carried on with their own local open amrket arrangements with individuals and didn't maximise the savings or management information which would have come from fully using the contract.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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