South East Employers

The HR Edit

Episodes available now

The first episode of the brand new podcast from South East Employers  dropped on 11 May 2023. There are now two series available to listen now, series three will drop early 2024.

This podcast is not just for HR though it will be a useful refresher, we have created it for managers too, to help them navigate through some of the complexities of people management and reduce some of the potential pitfalls.

The podcast is free to listen to, you can find The HR Edit on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. 

Series Three

01 | 18 June

Drug and Alcohol Policies – Do you have one?

Welcome back to season three of the HR Edit. We’ve been taking your suggestions for topics and this week Michelle, Sarah and Helen will be discussing implementing Drug and Alcohol Policies, the challenges and the different approaches you can take.

If you are a member of SEE and have any questions related to Drug and Alcohol Policies, or any other HR issues facing your organisation, please get in touch at

View or download the transcript of this episode.

Listen here now, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

03 | 02 July

Embracing Neurodiversity

This week join Michelle, Ben, Sarah and Helen for an enlightening discussion exploring neurodiversity in the workplace. Hear the practical strategies for inclusive recruitment and management and the importance of creating neuro-inclusive environments and tailored management styles.

If you are a member of SEE and have any questions related to neurodiversity, or any other HR issues facing your organisation, please get in touch at

View or download the transcript of this episode.

Listen here now, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

05 |16 July

Navigating the AI Revolution in Local Government

What if AI could transform the way local governments operate, making them more efficient without sacrificing jobs? In this enlightening episode of the HR Edit, Michelle and Sarah dive into the realities of AI integration in local councils. We tackle the fears surrounding AI, particularly its impact on jobs traditionally held by women, and explore how AI can actually enhance roles in administrative and finance sectors. The conversation spans from AI’s potential to streamline tasks like graphic design and report generation to the importance of reskilling employees for a future-proof workforce.

If you are a member of SEE and have any questions related to this episode, or any other HR issues facing your organisation, please get in touch at

View or download the transcript of this episode.

Listen here now, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

02 | 25 June

Do you have a grievance?

This week Sarah and Helen welcome Ben to the podcast – SEE’s new Employment Relations & Investigations Business Partner – who will be giving us an insight into what a grievance is and how it is conducted.

If you are a member of SEE and have any questions related to grievances, or any other HR issues facing your organisation, please get in touch at

View or download the transcript of this episode.

Listen here now, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

04 | 09 July

Innovative approaches to recruitment & retention

Today we explore the intricacies of recruitment and retention best practices with our new HR Insight Analyst, Rita. Join us as we discuss the critical role of exit interviews in shaping future recruitment strategies and the importance of continually updating job descriptions and person specifications to meet organisational needs and promote inclusivity. We’ll uncover why managers should support their employees’ growth, even if it means losing them temporarily to other organisations, and how fostering a positive company culture can enhance retention.

Details about the National Recruitment Campaign for Local Government here:

If you are a member of SEE and have any questions related to recruitment and retention, or any other HR issues facing your organisation, please get in touch at

View or download the transcript of this episode.

Listen here now, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

Series three

The HR Edit cover
Apple podcast icon
Spotify icon
Amazon music icon

Series Two

01 | 20 October

The big issues facing local government right now

To kick of season 2 we are joined by South East Employers new Chief Executive – Dr Ruth Adams, who will be talking with us about the issues facing local government right now as well as the experience she is bringing to her new role. Welcome Ruth!

View or download the transcript of this episode.

Listen here now, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

03 | 02 November

Demystifying Occupational Health

Today the team will be talking about the role of Occupational Health in an organisation, some of the misconceptions surrounding the service and how they can help both employers and employees

View or download the transcript of this episode.

Listen here now, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

05 | 16 November

Suspension – not as scary as it seems…

Chelsea, Michelle, Sarah and Helen are discussing suspensions – a scary sounding topic that might not be as bad as it sounds. Join the SEE team as they discuss what suspension is, when it should be used and the main risks.

View or download the transcript of this episode.

Listen here now, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

07 | 01 December

Things to consider about the Market Supplements

This week Chelsea tells us all about market supplements – what they are, when you should use them and the risks associated with them.

View or download the transcript of this episode.

Listen here now, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

02 | 27 October

Parental leave

In today’s episode Michelle, Sarah and Helen will be discussing parental leave, what this means for employers and the conditions and benefits to employees.

View or download the transcript of this episode.

Listen here now, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

04 | 10 November

Capability 101

Today Michelle, Sarah and Helen will be discussing capability – the purpose of it, the process and procedures and the results of a capability action.

View or download the transcript of this episode.

Listen here now, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

06 | 24 November

Reasonable adjustment

Today Michelle is sharing her insights into reasonable adjustment, what it means in practice and what is considered a reasonable adjustment.

View or download the transcript of this episode.

Listen here now, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

08 | 08 December

AI – It’s everywhere

This week on the podcast, Sarah and Michelle delve into the fascinating world of artificial intelligence (AI). They explore its current uses and discuss the immense potential it holds for future applications. From enhancing efficiency to revolutionizing the way we work, AI is driving innovation across various sectors.

This is the final episode of Season 2 – thank you so much for tuning in. Season 3 will be out in the new year so subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

View or download the transcript of this episode.

Listen here now, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

Series two

The HR Edit cover
Apple podcast icon
Spotify icon
Amazon music icon

Series one

01 | 11 May 2023

Disciplinary 101

This week Helen and Sarah are joined by our favourite HR expert, Michelle for a brief but insightful look into the disciplinary process within public sector organisations.

Note: When we talk about the Association of Police Chief Officers, we are referring to the National Police Chiefs Council.

View or download the transcript of this episode.

Listen here now, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

03 | 25 May 2023

TUPE in a nutshell

Dive into the complicated world of TUPE this week with Michelle, Sarah and Helen.

View or download the transcript of this episode.

Listen here now, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

05 | 08 June 2023

Calculating sick pay – what you need to know

Following on from last weeks episode Michelle is taking us through the complicated calculations for working out employee sick pay – get your pens and paper ready or, if you are a member of SEE click here for the accompanying spreadsheet.

View or download the transcript of this episode.

Listen here now, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

07 | 22 June 2023

Local Government pay negotiations in the South East

Our HR expert Michelle, walks us through the local government pay negotiations – National and Local approaches, and explains the possible risks of paying early.

Links to the cases Michelle mentions on the podcast can be found here (SEE members only).

View or download the transcript of this episode.

Listen here now, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

09 | 06 July 2023

Welcome to the SE Jobs website

Sarah is our expert today, talking us through the design and functionality of the SEJobs website. Head over to to list your vacancies or to find your next job opportunity.

View or download the transcript of this episode.

Listen here now, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

02 | 18 May 2023

Top of the query charts – Continuous Service and the Modification Order

This week Helen, Sarah and Michelle dig into the number one queried topics at SEE, the never-not-confusing issue of Continuous Service and Modification Order rules that relate to many people working in public sector organisations.

View or download the transcript of this episode.

Listen here now, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

04 | 01 June 2023

Sickness absence 101

This week Michelle talks us through the complicated topic of sickness absence with guidance on where to start with managing and supporting your employees.

View or download the transcript of this episode.

Listen here now, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

06 | 16 June 2023

Calculating part time leave – what you need to know

This week Michelle will be giving us a whistle stop tour of how to calculate part-time leave, along with an overview of the rules and regulations. If your organisation is a member of SEE click here for the accompanying spreadsheet.

View or download the transcript of this episode.

Listen here now, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

08 | 06 July 2023

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform Bill) – what could this mean for you?

This week meet Chelsea, SEE’s new HR Business Partner.

Today the team are taking a look at the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform Bill) – the background, specific proposals for new legislation and things to look out for – as well as getting to know Chelsea.

Government consultation:

The LGA Bulletin mentioned in this episode can be found: (LGA login needed).

Listen here now, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music or wherever you get your podcasts.

10 | 13 July 2023

Conducting a robust investigation

For the final episode of the series, we are joined by David, SEE’s Employment Director, who is talking us through best practice for conducting a robust, thorough, and fair investigation.

The HR Edit will be returning later in the year with series 2. Be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and keep an eye on this page for updates.

View or download the transcript of this episode.

Series one

The HR Edit cover
Apple podcast icon
Spotify icon
Amazon music icon
Transcript generated by
Help us spread the word by tweeting about us at @podiumdotpage and including us in your shownotes!

NOTE: There were 3 speakers identified in this transcript. Podium recommends using “Find and Replace” to change the speaker label to the appropriate name. Speaker separation errors can arise when multiple speakers speak simultaneously.

0:00:10 – Helen
Hi everyone and welcome to the HR edit, the podcast from South East employers looking at those common and often tricky HR questions. Today I’ll have our podcast favourites joining me Sarah and Michelle and we’re going to be following on from our season two episode about the use of AI. So today we’re going to be looking at how AI can make a difference in local government. Michelle, can I throw it over to you?

0:00:31 – Michelle
Absolutely the last podcast we did on artificial intelligence, we sort of talked around some of the issues, some of the concerns and how it can help and how it is being used within our lives how it can help and how it is being used within our lives every day.


This one, we’re going to focus a bit more on how it can be used within councils and what the benefits are from implementing AI across the organisation, but also looking at the key things that you need to consider when you are implementing AI to make that implementation the most efficient and likely to succeed.

First of all, I just wanted to touch on the use of artificial intelligence and that big fear factor that is constantly being bandied around in the press around the impact that it’s going to have on jobs and the fact that there’s articles out there at the moment saying that women are going to be disproportionately affected by the introduction of AI, that the jobs that women carry out are more likely to be able to be replaced by artificial intelligence, and which sectors and sort of which levels within organizations are going to be most affected by AI being implemented. There is a lot of fear out there and that’s largely because it’s an unknown factor at this point. Since CHAP GPT launched I think about 18 months ago now there’s been a number of different platforms that have launched. We now have, with our Office 365 licenses, we have Copilot that I’ve been making use of, so there’s lots of options out there in terms of different platforms, and different platforms can do different things, you know. Generation of images.

0:02:13 – Sarah
Generation of images is something I literally was doing this morning, Michelle, because as a graphic designer and we’re coming up with sort of some more refreshed branding and stuff.

For SCE. I was looking through some stock images and there’s now this functionality where you can actually generate an image and oh my god, do they look good, they really do look good. So you could pretty much generate anything you wanted. And, and this morning as well, I was on photoshop and I was cleaning up some images and you know, it’s just a button that says take out the background. Now I used to have to do that manually. It’s, it’s incredibly clever and it it does. It does present quite an efficiency for, you know, for those graphic designers, I suppose in local government as well, because there are graphic designers in local government. But when you, when you talk about the disproportionate effect on women, I know you said that we can ignore that potentially for now, but there are articles out there saying that in what, what sort of jobs are you referring to that women sort of more exclusively do? Just just out of my own interest, really, because I’ve seen those articles.

0:03:06 – Michelle
Sarah, that’s a really good point and, yes, the fields that are most likely to be affected are the roles of things like administrative assistants, retail clerks, finance people, roles where the day-to-day activity is repetitive.

0:03:23 – Sarah
And system-based as well, I suspect.

0:03:25 – Michelle
Yes, so it’s a case of those things that don’t necessarily need an understanding of the context around the work are most likely to be taken over by AI, and that’s really critical, because we’re not talking about frontline services, we’re not talking about the lower level roles, necessarily. We are talking about those roles where there is a level of skill required, but not that organizational domain expertise yeah, I suppose it’s a lot of that stuff.

0:03:59 – Sarah
When you talk about that sort of accountants and finances, all those kind of forecasting, and you know something that actually a system can pull out and sort of power bi for you or generate a report for that are actually probably the most affected right now. I mean, we’re talking sort of more immediately, aren’t we? But you know, we talked about last time that you’ve got. You know, you have to have a human perspective on stuff because we’re dealing with human a lot of times, human emotion, a lot of human input. You know we make mistakes, so you do still have to have that kind of checking, I suppose yes, and I think that’s one of the the key things.

0:04:28 – Michelle
What’s really critical now, you know the the concern about the female dominated professions being replaced by by AI. It’s not necessarily that those people should lose their jobs. It’s about re-skilling them so that they have the development to be able to understand the context, to understand that, to have that domain expertise you know, the understanding of what goes on around the organization so that they can become the oversight of what AI produces. So it’s not necessarily about job loss. It’s about re-sk and I think that’s one of the critical things. We talk a lot about loss of jobs and in reality, what it will be is it will be not a loss of jobs. You know you won’t necessarily lose your job to AI, but you might lose it to someone who understands and can work with AI, and there’s been a real trend recently where organisations have deliberately been hiring new talent who have the capability to use AI effectively within that role.

0:05:34 – Sarah
So it’s more of a training need really, when I suppose you know councils, our councils, our organisations that kind of you know are members and we chat to a lot, it’s about finding those kind of training and identifying those needs and sort of putting that stuff in place to future proof as well, because it is, you know, it is a lot about scaremongering. Ai it’s not it’s one of those words that somebody says artificial intelligence. Well, I’ve seen all the movies where, you know, machines take over. So of course there’s kind of connotations there where everybody’s like, well, hang on a minute, what’s going to happen to the human race? But really what we’re talking about in local government and what we’re talking about on this podcast is how we can utilize AI in our daily tasks to make make us more efficient, I suppose.

0:06:16 – Michelle
Yeah, absolutely, and research is out there that says you know that people are using AI in their work on a daily basis. Anyway, they might just be telling their bosses about it. So when they’re having to write that report, you know AI is doing the grunt work and then they’re finessing it, they’re putting that domain context in there, they’re putting the human side of it into the report and that’s one of the really sort of interesting things. The Harvest Business Review undertook a study a little while ago and they identified 18 tasks that were considered to be realistic. Gpt to carry out those 18 tasks outperformed on every single measure. So their productivity was just over 12 percent higher, the speed at which they were getting the tasks done was 25 percent faster and the quality of the work that they were generating was 40 percent higher. And interestingly, the consultant who scored the worst on the pre-study assessment had the biggest jump in performance. So it’s it was taking, you know, these consultants who had mediocre skills and giving them AI to enable them to to the job, and consistently they outperformed the consultants who were not able to use AI. And that’s really fascinating because that just goes to show AI isn’t about necessarily taking jobs away. It’s about creating that capacity to do more of the important value-adding tasks and taking away some of that more repetitive and base-level task and sort of, in its own way, upskilling people and enabling those mediocre level consultants in this particular study, enabling them to perform at a much higher level.

So when we’re talking about introducing AI in councils, you know it’s not about removing jobs necessarily.

We’re talking about how we can enable our workforce to focus on the value-added work. So you know we’ve got a huge frontline services workforce and we’re not going to get rid of those. I mean we can’t get rid of social workers. We can’t get rid of youth and community workers. You know we can’t ditch those. We can’t stop collecting the rubbish, all of those services that directly impact the general population’s day to day life. We’re not going to be able to give up those workforces. They are essential. So in terms of introducing AI into the you know, those frontline services, actually what we’re talking about is taking away some of that day-to-day administrative burden and enabling those individuals to concentrate on the, the stuff that really matters, that human interaction, the value add and I keep using that phrase. But it is true we are looking at taking and we’ve touched on this in the last podcast ai takes away 80 of the work enabling the individual to spend their time on that 20 of really important stuff a computer can’t do.

0:09:47 – Sarah
So okay, so short of then, because obviously we wanted to debunk that myth of what. Suddenly you’re going to look out your window and your bins are being picked up by some shiny robot. In terms of how, then, in terms of what councils are using, I suppose there’s a good example in our organization. Actually, we have our organizational intelligence service, the OIS service, and within that we have a piece of software called Infinistats, and it’s fantastic. You put your, you put your data in. You can generate a report then which actually generates some narrative as well, but obviously you’ve got that sense, check level which allows you know people to go into that report and just add a bit of narrative, change the narrative slightly. That’s the kind of stuff we’re talking about. Really aren’t we To utilise in local government to make people’s lives easier and make them more efficient? So, have you got any other examples, michelle? Absolutely.

0:10:34 – Michelle
So teachers are starting to use AI much more and they are using it to sort of generate the classwork. So you know they’ll ask AI to generate a quiz on a particular topic, or they’re using it to create the differentiated work that is set within the class. Because you have, effectively, within most classrooms you will have three levels of academic ability, and what teachers are doing is asking AI to generate the activities for those three levels of ability. So, instead of them having to spend their time writing three different versions of a particular activity, ai is doing it for them of a particular activity.

0:11:24 – Sarah
AI is doing it for them, and that’s brilliant. As a parent, I want them to have their time freed up, to spend more time with my child, rather than repetitively writing these tasks.

0:11:32 – Michelle
Absolutely. We’re seeing councils starting to use AI to write up council meeting minutes. We know that AI is being used in the recruitment processes on both sides. Accountants are using AI to create a more professional CV. Sure, they are using AI to write the cover letters, and again, consistently. There are a number of chief execs who have put their AI systems to the test and their recruitment processes to the test. They have taken a CV, they’ve got AI to write a cover letter and, consistently, those applications are getting through to the next stage. They are being put through to the interview stage. So AI does have a really positive impact on your saleability as a candidate. What that also means, though, is that recruiters have to be a bit more aware of what the potential pitfalls are in terms of their process, because you genuinely cannot tell whether a CV and a covering letter have been written by AI or by an actual human being. So there are some real for for recruiters in terms of making sure that the assessment process is robust enough to weed out the people who who can’t match the cv and covering letter that they have actually submitted.

Um, but on the other side, you know hr teams, recruitment teams are using ai to sift through the applications. So you know they’re doing that first sift using AI. You know these are the criteria we’re looking for. Discount anyone who doesn’t meet these criteria. We touched on it last time around. There still needs to be some oversight. So actually, if a candidate has identified themselves as having a disability, there’s a different standard that needs to be applied in terms of recruitment process, because if you’re a disability confident employer, if that individual meets all the essential criteria, they should be guaranteed an interview. An AI at the moment hasn’t necessarily got the capacity to make that distinction. They can flag up someone has identified as having a disability, but they can’t necessarily then apply a different set of assessment requirements to kind of then bring out the correct shortlist in those circumstances.

0:13:55 – Sarah
I suppose Michelle actually just picking up on that point it is essential then that if you’re to use AI in any of your kind of work, is that you understand the limitations of it, because it’s all very well and good going, you know well I’m going to use AI for this, but actually, if you don’t understand those limitations, then you know there’s a massive risk of you, for example in recruitment, missing out on a fantastic candidate.

0:14:19 – Michelle
Yeah, that’s one of the things that is absolutely critical in terms of deciding how and where to implement ai is understanding, do you know? Does effectively. Does your workforce have the capability to effectively have that context knowledge to be able to check and avoid? I love this phrase avoid ai hallucinations. Oh, I really like that. It’s one of those phrases. It’s like that sounds like fun, um, but no, ai hallucinations are. You know? It is basically ai presenting untruths as fact. So the false news.

0:15:03 – Sarah
I like that actually, because that kind of it’s that lulling you into a false sense of security, that, oh brilliant, this is going to save me three hours because I can just sift all these candidates through this thing, but actually you need to do the work alongside it. Yes, because there has to be that sense.

0:15:17 – Michelle
Check there has to be that sense check Absolutely. And it seems like I mean we I think we touched on it last uh, in the last podcast there was a legal team in the states who used ai to produce their argument, didn’t check it. Uh, when it got to court, the judge turned around and said what the heck are you talking about, though? You case doesn’t exist. That case has no relevance to what we’re arguing here in court today, and that legal team was actually forced to pay fairly significant fines to various courts and various law firms across the country as a result of using AI hallucinations.

0:15:58 – Sarah
That legal team sounds like it belongs in the Breaking Bad universe.

0:16:00 – Michelle
To be honest, hallucinations that legal team sounds like it belongs in the Breaking Bad universe, to be honest. So, using AI for generating any kind of report, any kind of argument, any kind of policy document, is fantastic, because it generally will take a human being half a day to a day to write a legal argument, for example. Or, you know, half a day to write a legal argument, for example. Or, you know, half a day to write a policy. And actually writing a policy on a topic that you’re not particularly familiar with, you’re going to have to do a significant amount of research first before you actually get down to writing the bones of that policy.

Well, ai can do it in half an hour.

I mean, to be honest, ai can probably do it in two minutes. And you just, you know, know it’s about knowing how to get AI to deliver what you specifically want it to do, and it takes some time to get to understand how to phrase queries and as AI learns, it gets more intelligent and can, you know, give you what you want without quite so much detail. But it, you know it’s work in progress, but that’s what we’re talking about. We’re talking about, you know, writing a report will take a human being half a day to a day, whereas actually AI can do that far quicker and you might. You then have to, as a human, then take it away and then maybe spend half an hour tweaking it, making it in your corporate identity or lexicon that your organisation uses. But ultimately you know from half a day you’re spending half an hour on that piece of work, so you can then go and do the next piece of value add work. So you know in that half day you might get six pieces of work done instead of one.

0:17:40 – Sarah
I suppose we talked to so many officers in councils that are writing policies and are having to write you know, all these documents and stuff.

If you can run something like that through AI and actually get out the bones, I suppose, of what you need, you’ve also got that kind of added value of like oh, I didn’t actually realize I had to add this into a policy, there’s a new idea there that you hadn’t thought to, but then you can write around it.

So you do get that kind of the bones of the report, the bones of the policy, and then you add your like, say your lexicon, some other bits that you know you need to add that actually hasn’t been generated. I realized I did that with a social media policy. I was trying to come up with a social media template policy and I ran it through chat, gdp and GDP, gpt, gpt. I knew that didn’t sound right and it came out with the bones. But again it had a couple of bits I hadn’t even thought about and I thought, oh, actually that’s brilliant, because I wouldn’t have included that if I was writing that myself. Yeah, and then I would have had to gone and made sure I’d kind of got the bones of it anyway there’s a slight concern around this whole.

0:18:41 – Michelle
Well, instead of one piece of work in half a day, I can get six pieces of work done in half a day. There is a concern around that because with that you have two paths that an organisation can take. The first one is well, we are task oriented. You do the tasks that are assigned to you. It doesn’t matter to us how long it takes you. Once your work is done, that is your working week done. So we can see already in the private sector that’s going to start leading to a more consistent application of a four-day working week, for example, because the work is being done in a day, less of work time.

The other route is effectively the assumption that people will just get more done in the time that they work. So it’s that time oriented versus output oriented. So you know the fact that you can get six pieces done in half a day versus one piece. Well, you know, if that’s consistent across your week, we’re talking what? 12 pieces of work a day over the five days, that’s 60 pieces of work, whereas you would have got 10 done potentially.

So there is a real risk that actually we’re going to end up in a situation where we’re creating sort of a burnout because we’re constantly having to do the next thing, the next thing, and it’s all high level thought requiring work and you know part of the majority of jobs up until now, you have the high intellect part of the job and then you’ve got the I just need half an hour to switch my brain off type of work and that regulates your ability to focus and, and you know, put the effort in because you have that ability to have a bit of downtime. If we’re turning around and saying that everything has to be that high level, that’s going to create a level of health risk mental health as well as physical health potentially I think it is that expectation, isn’t it?

0:20:38 – Sarah
and and you know, and as we’ve said repeatedly on this podcast and on the previous podcast that we did on AI, that there has to be that human sense check. It’s not just a case of churning out work, it’s a case of producing quality work, whether that’s AI-assisted or whether that’s human-only, I suppose, and it’s that balance, isn’t it, that we’re always trying to achieve, I think, in every workforce.

0:21:01 – Michelle
Yeah, isn’t it that that we’re always trying to achieve? I think in every workforce, yeah, and I think particularly in the public sector, we do tend to maintain that human element in our management and our expectations. You know, I know people will scoff at that because over the last few years, with budget cutbacks, you know everybody is being expected to do more with less, absolutely. But in reality, you know, yes, there’s the budget pressure, but ultimately, as public sector employers, we do tend to be a bit more aware of work-life balance and well-being and that’s that’s fundamentally changed with, you know, since the pandemic, hasn’t it?

0:21:39 – Sarah
and and we’ve actually seen a lot more, or a lot, I think it’s moved stuff on a lot quicker, like teams. The other day we were just looking at transcribing teams meetings, which are really useful for when, you know, our guys are interviewing for investigation cases and you know, and that’s, it’s moved that on so much quicker because you know you would have done that in person or and then you would have been transcribing on the computer, on a piece of paper. You know that’s a massive time saving and and you know obviously it needs a sense check. But actually you then have got a word for word of what somebody said and we’re talking investigation, so we’re talking accuracy. We need to be completely confident, completely accurate, that what has been said is what is on the piece of paper.

And I think also that you know that that sort of talk of productivity and how there’s efficiencies and and and workforce are being slimmed down and more workers expected of individuals and all that kind of stuff, and with working from home, you know you don’t have the commute anymore. So, for example, I start I you know start about half six, seven o’clock in the morning. So actually I’m probably working more hours without interruption. There’s no water cooler in my house, so it’s not like I can gather around the tap and talk to my husband about stuff, you know. So it’s all that stuff as well, where you haven’t got people popping in or you actually have a pre arranged meetings on teams or whatever, and they’re just more efficient ways of doing stuff now. So I think, with that added pressure since the pandemic and don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining I absolutely love working from home. I got my office dogs. You know I can. I can nip to the fridge and I think I’m more productive.

But I also think more is expected of people, because you’ve kind of actually got a better work-life balance and maybe that’s because in my personal circumstances absolutely the work-life balance is so much better and the stress is less because of it and I don’t feel the pressure as much. But and then you’ve got things like AI. You know transcribing your conversations. You know we’re recording this podcast, we’ll transcribe this podcast and when Helen’s editing she can clean up any sound where I’ve been clicking a pen because I’ve been told off about it. We can do that all with a click of a button. So I think we’re using it every day and I think I just think personally that it’s all moved at a much faster pace because of the pandemic. So we’re still seeing benefits of benefits of that, yeah, and if we can use it in our everyday lives to make tasks that we’ve got to do quicker and easier and more accurate then there’s no harm in it at all.

0:23:51 – Michelle
There really isn’t no, and I think this is the thing I mean. If you go thinking about the areas where councils are struggling to recruit people, so you look at social work, you look at planning, legal hr finance, each of those functions could benefit quite significantly for from introducing ai in planning. There are a set amount, you know. There are set rules on. You know what can be built and what can’t be built. Why not get ai to sift through them? Anything that’s really simple it can automatically generate, uh, an approval letter that gets sent out to the applicant. Anything that doesn’t quite fit in the box gets referred to a human for review, and that you know. Ai can also sort of say well, this is why I’ve kicked it out to you, this is why I don’t think it ticks the the criteria. So it’s guiding that planning professional into this is what you need to focus your time on. So, rather than reading the whole thing although I would recommend, I’d still recommend through the whole application. Um, you know again that human oversight, until you’re confident that AI really does understand what it’s got to do. But it focuses the planning professionals attention to the area that is causing concern with that particular application. It can tell you which regulation the application is in breach of. Just taking out the easy to cope with stuff frees up those planners to focus on the stuff that really does need their attention and really does need the environmental considerations and the road network considerations really examined before an opinion is given. And again, ai can generate the report that needs to go to the Development Control Committee and giving an opinion. Yes, the planning control officer needs to make sure that it’s an accurate report and that they agree with what AI has said and may need to actually give the final opinion as to whether the council should approve or reject the application whether the council should approve or reject the application. But just by generating that report you’re taking, as I said, a couple of hours worth of time out of that individual’s workload so they can focus on that context work and the work that needs the human oversight and human input.

One other area that I think will be very useful for line managers in all organisations, but also very specifically within councils, is using AI to assist with performance reviews, that annual appraisal cycle, and I must admit when I first started hearing that AI would be useful in that arena, I was like how on earth does AI help managers do that performance appraisal and I was thinking, well, I can see that working where there is a task oriented work in terms of how many plates is an individual packing in an hour? But then, when I started to look at it in a bit more detail, I sort of thought, well, yeah, it makes a lot of sense. We’ve been talking today about writing reports, writing policies. Well, actually, efficient writing of a performance review is not that much different. Instead of searching for the right words in the kind of things that you should be saying and covering in an appraisal, ai can generate that for you. So you’ve got the vocab enhancement, but also just that core review is written for the line manager and they just have to go in with that human oversight. With that context, and add the employee specific information.

Ai can also start to generate goals. So you know, looking at the next 12 months, what do you want that individual to achieve in 12 months? Well, ai can help with that. It can also then develop a personalised learning plan. So what courses, what training does that person need? Is there someone else in the organisation who has the right skills to be able to teach that individual, or can that person go and shadow them so they get that development opportunity.

Ai can start to produce those plans and, yes, you know where your role is very data driven and you know it is. How much throughput have you had? Ai can very easily summarize that data to be able to create those reviews. But also, as a line manager of a large team, ai can then summarize all of your appraisals and create a team development plan. It can help with your succession planning and understanding where your team might need to be in 12 months time. Understanding where your team might need to be in 12 months time.

So, again, taking a lot of the heavy lifting of appraisals out of the actual process and giving it to AI means that managers can then focus on the really critical part, which is the human interaction with their employee. The stuff that AI can’t do is you know, how are you feeling? Are there, have you got any health concerns? Is there anything that we can be doing differently to support you? That conversation, that communication of line manager to report where you’re, you’re looking at the human side of work cannot be done by AI, and that’s, you know, that’s part of the reason why people stay at work. You know they feel connected to their colleagues, they feel connected and respected and visible to their manager. Ai will never well, I will never say never, but currently AI is not capable of having that level of interaction and involvement with humans.

0:29:42 – Sarah
Obviously we understand the financial constraints, especially with the local government, especially in the southeast. There’s a lot of financial constraints at the moment which is limiting councils. But it is that kind of weighing up that investment in that kind of software, you know, versus the time-saving efficiencies and therefore the cost-saving efficiencies. So I think it really is about being open to new ideas and where in the past we’ve had to make efficiencies and then, and therefore the cost saving as efficiencies. So I think it really is about being open to new ideas and where in the past we’ve had to make efficiencies in local councils whereby you have to cut a certain job or somebody has to part-time share or whatever, and it’s those kind of physical person cutting or service cutting or whatever. We potentially need to look at actually workloads and what can be done by the workforce and actually what can be done by a piece of software essentially.

So you were saying about that planning stuff.

You know, I know there’s some councils that utilize a piece of software online where you put in what you want to do, how big your extension is going to be and stuff, and it will tell you whether you need planning permission or not. But it’s what it’s actually kind of bringing that to a local level where people can go right, I want to just extend my porch, you know, do I need planning permission? And if you don’t need planning permission, then that stops that interaction completely, because you don’t get those. Well, I thought I better do this, just in case. Yeah, and then you have somebody’s time going and you have to look through it and then you’ve got to write a letter saying no, you don’t have to do this or have a phone call or whatever all those planning meetings like, do any planning mission meetings? Well, you set up a half hour meeting with the planning officer. It suddenly frees up so much time, which is an efficiency in itself, yes, when you think about that hourly rate of that person. So, absolutely, it’s being open-minded isn’t it, and that’s.

0:31:17 – Michelle
I think that’s really critical. There’s two things that you’ve sort of mentioned there around the cost of implementing, but also the freeing up of time, and we’re probably all very familiar with chatbots as customer service agents on our energy websites and all of that kind of stuff. But actually there is a real benefit from having that kind of service available. You think about pensions, for example, finance, housing how many queries are actually the same question asked every day by 50 different people? Well, that can be picked up by a chatbot, and I was on a chatbot recently and I was asking the question and the chatbot could not provide the answer that I needed because my situation was nuanced and it said I’m going to put you through to an actual person. That’s what you need. You need a. Here’s the basics, and if I can’t give you the answer that you need, I will connect you with an actual person who can understand the nuance of the situation and give you the response that you need. And so it’s taking away again. In some respects it’s taking away from jobs because you’re not needing those initial customer service connections or contacts, but actually that means that your customer service team is only getting the queries that are difficult and more challenging and need the human and domain context to be able to provide an answer. So, again, making them more efficient. People aren’t hanging on the phone waiting to be connected to an agent for half an hour, 45 minutes, minutes, because the simple questions have been dealt with by the chatbot. So again, you know, going back to that, freeing up time.

The other thing you mentioned was the finance side of it and the financial pressures. Yes, there is potentially an investment in getting the ai on board. Chat gpt the paid for version, which is much more effective at writing reports and getting the right information in front of you, is costs at the moment 18 pounds a month. Our lowest pay point in local government is 11 pounds 59. A newly qualified social worker earns 16 pounds 37 roughly. I’ve taken that information from our organizational intelligence service. Effectively, as long as it, implementing artificial intelligence on a an individual level, saves that person at least half an hour’s worth of time a week, chatgpt has paid for itself.

If you’re a Microsoft 365 user, copilot is sitting there waiting for you to use as part of your subscription and the benefit of Copilot is, if you are a 365 user, your Copilot will be a professional Copilot, and if you read what that means on the Microsoft website, it basically means that your queries never leave your domain. So whereas ChatGPT, when you put information in it, goes into the ether and is used for information and evidence the next time someone asks that question, copilot Professional has a wall around your information, so it’s more secure for putting those more commercially sensitive queries in and some of that kind of company specific data, so there’s less of a risk.

0:34:52 – Sarah
Yeah, and I think that’s really, really important in terms of that security risk, isn’t it? And the benefit of 365 is that everything in your environment is kept in your environment, even the co-pilot stuff.

0:35:03 – Michelle
I mean the disadvantages with co-pilot professional. Once you delete the chat or end the chat, it’s not retained so you can’t go back to it later. But that’s, in my view, a minor inconvenience when you’re talking about protecting the data that you’re putting in and the information that you’re putting into AI.

0:35:22 – Helen
So, michelle, if your organization is thinking of implementing an AI, what sort of things should they consider?

0:35:30 – Michelle
Well, I’m not going to talk about the kind of where it works and where it doesn’t work. I think we’re looking at a slightly bigger picture here and as we move forward with AI, actually one of the critical things for all organisations will be to look at how their roles and teams are designed and deliberately intentionally designing job roles, teams, the whole organisation around AI capability, so understanding where it can be used most effectively and improve efficiency most, and deliberately building that in to your succession planning, to your workforce planning as a key criteria. Look at what AI can do faster and more efficiently and redesign the roles so that the job becomes about the oversight, not the delivery of that administrative function. Your development plans and the way you develop your staff will have to change as well. The traditional route of gaining knowledge has been doing. But if we’re taking out that administrative level work and giving it to AI, how do the new starters, the career entry individuals, learn that context to be able to move up into the human oversight type of role? And that’s got to be a deliberate choice by organisations to ensure employees have that career path development opportunity to gain the context awareness both of the work but also of the organisation. Looking at how your onboarding and mapping of career paths is done and facilitating that development.

On that note, we know AI is constantly evolving and in order to keep up with that evolution, employees are going to have to continue to learn how to use AI effectively. As it changes, they’re going to have to change as well. So at the initial phase of introducing AI, it may result, and is likely to result, in an initial reduction in productivity because they’re having to learn a new way of doing things. I heard a lovely example to explain that it’s like putting down the axe to learn how to use the chainsaw. The end goal is much quicker, much more efficient, much more capacity to turn through the work. But you have to accept that initially, whilst people are learning, there will be a slight downturn in that productivity and that then continues as AI evolves, as its use evolves, people will have to have some slack in their day-to-day capacity to understand what those changes mean and how to move forward with that new version of AI.

Up until now, we’ve tended to see AI being implemented in a very silo-based way. So HR have introduced it in the recruitment function. Customer services have implemented it in the front-facing website chatbot side of things, look at how we implement AI across the organization and enable AI to support the increased connectivity across functions and sort of breaking down those silos so that there is that cross-organization communication and benefit. I think one of the most critical things that organizations need to focus on as they go on this AI implementation journey is they need to ensure that their workforce is able to utilise the capability. If your workforce is not at that point, it doesn’t matter what your approach to implementation is, how good that approach is. If the capability isn’t there, it won’t be accepted within the organisation. So there is a journey to go on to make sure that your workforce has the capability to utilise AI in the best way possible. And, as I said earlier, you know organisations are already starting to hire their new talent based on, in part, their ability to harness the power that AI provides.

0:40:05 – Sarah
Thanks, michelle. I always find this really, really interesting, these chats about AI, and I think the one thing to leave everybody with after this podcast and after the previous podcast is that AI isn’t actually scary. Ai is going going to really, really help us and actually once we kind of start thinking about it in depth, we realize how much we’re already using it every day and it’s helping our lives. It’s not making them worse. Certainly not in my case. It might be in some people’s cases, but you know, those kind of AI functions already on my phone, in my car, you know, on my computer. It does help and it does help to make things easier and more efficient. So no need to be scared, but there is a need to embrace it.

0:40:44 – Michelle
I think it’s. I think it’s one of those things, isn’t it? You know, when computers were first introduced people were scared of them and you know people thought that it was going to do people out of jobs. I mean, my dad used to work in the reassurance industry. He was the one who was responsible for bringing computers into his organisation and there was a lot of pushback. They had an IT guy, but of course he was mainframes and all that kind of stuff Just didn’t see the value of personal computers. You know, he was just like they’ll just sit on people’s desks, they won’t get used.

The secretary pool were like but you’re going to do us out of a job because all of a sudden you know the process had been the broker meets with the client and agrees the deal, puts the paperwork through the typing pool, have to type it all up and send it back and if there’s anything wrong it goes back and and all of a sudden you’re putting the power in the broker’s hands to have a word processor that has the document there. They just input the key details from the client and it’s ready to go. Well, what happened was the secretary pool just learned how to use pcs. You know they, and you know they moved on to other functions that needed you know their, their oversight, their skills, and in that case nobody actually lost it. If they wanted to leave they could, but actually nobody was forced out because of that. They were all found. Alternative work added more value to the organisation. So that was a fair number of years ago. But you know, we’re in that same position.

The internet came along and everyone’s, like you know, don’t use that. It’s scary. Well, actually the majority of us couldn’t do our jobs without the internet these days. The same, for when we went to the internet of things, for example, I was very resistant to the idea of having something that was listening to my conversation sitting in every room in my house. I wouldn’t be without them now, and it’s not that I rely on them, but actually there’s a level of convenience I don’t have to set the timer on my oven, so therefore I don’t actually have to set the time on my oven anymore, because I just talk to my device and say set a timer.

0:42:50 – Sarah
It’s an evolution again, isn’t it? And we’re in a cycle of change. Now AI is AI’s turn, and I think you know, like I say, it’s not scary.

0:43:02 – Helen
It’s just change. Thank you for listening to today’s episode of the podcast and thank you, as always, to Michelle and Sarah. If you would like to go back and listen to the previous episode about AI, visit our website at wwwseempcouk forward slash the HR edit, where you can access all the previous episodes of the previous seasons of the podcast and, obviously, season three. Michelle also mentioned the Organizational Intelligence Service supporting strategic HR delivery through data and analytics. As part of the service, you will have access to our mini surveys, infinisats, sendex and OISN network. If you’d like more information about the service, please visit our website at wwwseempcouk forward slash OIS or email us at OIS at seempcouk Next week, we will be welcoming a new voice to the podcast, but a well-known expert of the SEE team, jennifer, will be joining us to talk about mediations. So be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, spotify or wherever you get your podcasts, and we look forward to seeing you next week.

Transcribed by

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This