HR | Events

Roundup: Strategic HR Network Conference

Headshot of Michelle Biggs

Michelle Biggs, Employment and People Insight Manager


After a three year break due to the pandemic, we were delighted to be able to welcome our HR strategic leads colleagues in person to a very special conference in London in October. Not only did it represent our return to in-person events, it also gave us the opportunity to celebrate South East Employers’ Centenary.

There was a distinct buzz in the air as colleagues from across the region caught up with each other after so long apart, so much so that our first session started 15 minutes late! The Golden Thread throughout the whole day was the importance of having robust data to interrogate and challenge in order to support evidence based decision making across every aspect of the HR function.

Up first was Welna Bowden, Advisor (Workforce) from the LGA. Welna didn’t mind the delayed start as she walked us through the LGA’s Workforce Planning Matrix, developed in conjunction with the NHS, and how it can be used by authorities to develop maturity in the key factors of workforce planning. Since first inception, the matrix has been updated to move the data factor to the top in recognition of the fact that without data, you can’t evidence any of the other factors.

SEE Regional Director Jennifer McNeill, opens the Strategic HR Network Conference
SEE's Michelle Biggs standing in front of the delegates with a projection screen behind her.
Welna Bowden presenting to delegates, with a projection screen behind her.

This led into a session looking at SEE’s Organisational Intelligence Service. Michelle Biggs, Employment and People Insight Manager at SEE, talked us through the various elements of the service before handing over to two HRD’s from London Boroughs who have been using Infinistats for over a decade. Ian Steadman and Mark Porter both demonstrated how they use Infinistats benchmarking data to provide evidence for funding requests for HR interventions. For more information please see the Organisational Intelligence Service article in this newsletter.

Harry Honnor, Senior Advisor (Workforce & Negotiations) at the LGA started the pay update with the breaking news that ALACE had submitted a revised pay claim of 3.5% – 4% on behalf of local authority Chief Executives before moving on to discuss progress on the Green Book negotiations. Things have moved on substantially since 20 October 2022 and for all the latest information please see our ‘Latest on Pay’ page of our website.

After a delicious lunch, Deb Clarke, Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development at Manchester City Council, joined us to talk about their PPMA Excellence Award winning Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative. Deb joined the council shortly before the council received the report from the independent review of EDI within the council. In her own words, it was an uncomfortable read, but it provided a platform from which to launch Manchester City’s improvement journey. First up was understanding their data, or rather the lack of data. In a departure from the normal approach, the council asked its employees why they didn’t want to provide their demographic information and found the approach worked well. The approach of involving representatives from staff groups at the planning stage continues to be used throughout the ongoing journey to be better.

Our final speaker of the day, Matt Gofton from CIPD, joined us virtually to look at Employee Value Proposition, an increasingly important tool in recruitment and retention. Employers need to understand more about the needs of the people in the recruitment market and start to create workplaces and reward strategies that address those needs. Particularly in the Public Sector where we can’t just throw money at the problem, we need to find other ways of enticing people into the sector. Matt talked through some key elements for attracting and retaining talent. After Perception of Employer and Pay and Benefits, come the perception of job security and career development opportunities. Data demonstrates that over the last 3 years, with all the chaos of the pandemic, Local Government has been one of the most stable employers seeing a far smaller reduction in workforce numbers than any other sector. Authorities in our region are also starting to map out career paths to help new entrants to see the potential for progression and the support their employer will provide to achieve this.

We rounded of the day celebrating our Centenary with a glass (or two) of fizz and a slice of very tasty cake, while spending a final few minutes chatting to colleagues old and new.

A white celebration cake with a cake topper reading, '100 years of SEE'.

100 years of SEE

We celebrated our Centenary with a celebration cake and a glass of fizz.

We rounded of the day celebrating our Centenary with a glass (or two) of fizz and a slice of very tasty cake, while spending a final few minutes chatting to colleagues old and new.

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