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SLG Messages

SLG Messages

Message from SLG - 30 April 

Dear Colleagues

In our last message, we talked about the easing of restrictions and the fact that we are now able to enjoy more freedoms. With these easing of restrictions, we know that you will be wondering what this means for you in terms of working practices.

Over the past year, we have seen the single biggest change to our working practices than ever before. We have staff  who have been working remotely for over a year while others have been redeployed into other roles to help the Council fulfil its role supporting the most vulnerable members of the community.

We know that it has been a difficult and challenging time both personally and professionally for many of our staff and some may be anxious at the thought of more changes to working practice.

We would like to emphasise that we are asking most staff who are working remotely to continue to do this until at least the end of June in line with current Scottish Government guidance. There may be some exceptional situations where staff are required to physically attend work and this will be agreed at individual and line manager level. 

The pandemic has brought everything into sharp focus and we have had to change the way we do things at a quicker pace than we had anticipated. The Senior Leadership Group will be setting up a working group to consider and discuss our working practices in the longer term. This is part of our Be the Future programme to transform the way we work as a Council to ensure we are working better and smarter to benefit not only our residents but also our staff. As a member of staff, you are our main asset and without your hard work and dedication we would not be able to provide the services that are so essential to so many people.

We recently published a link to the results of our staff survey on our Keeping Staff Connected page and on Connect http://connect/index.php/announcements/585-/5208-.  It is an invaluable tool in gauging how our staff are feeling and it was heartening to see that staff engagement had improved on the previous year’s survey and that over 80% of those responding were aware of our vision and values.

Feedback was also positive when it came to staff feeling a sense of achievement for the work they were undertaking, being treated with dignity and respect, making decisions, and receiving support from managers.

However we also have to recognise that the survey picked up on areas where improvement is needed. The survey highlighted that mental wellbeing of staff continues to be an area of focus for us, whilst 50% of staff who responded noted their mental health as being good or very good, a similar amount described their wellbeing and mental health as 'fair' or 'poor'.

Our Healthy Working Lives group have put a lot of time and effort into developing mental health support for staff and held a virtual wellbeing week at the end of January which was followed up with a wellbeing toolkit. They have also organised webinars for Stress Awareness Month. Other events are planned for the coming months and support is also available through line managers, union reps,  HR colleagues or PAM assist. You can find more information on the Wellbeing section of our Keeping Staff Connected page

A working group, which will include Trade Union colleagues, will look at the full results of the staff survey and the comments and further information will follow. The approach we take going forward will be a collaborative one with staff and Trade Unions.

There will also be a focus on staff engagement and internal communications over the coming months and we are looking at new and innovative ways to engage with staff, including trialing video messages from SLG. In the meantime, we would encourage you to make sure you are keeping up to date with the latest information and what support is available to you through our Keeping Staff Connected page on our website

Finally, once again we would like to thank you for your commitment and wish you a restful weekend.

Here’s a reminder of the FACTS guidance we must follow for a safer Scotland:

Face Coverings, Avoid Crowded Places, Clean your Hands Regularly, Two Metre Distance, Self Isolate and Book a Test if you have Symptoms.

Best wishes

Nikki, Stuart, Pete, Lorraine and Fiona

Message from SLG - Staff should continue to work from home where possible

Created: 22/4/21

Dear Colleagues

We are all now starting to enjoy the easing of restrictions which began on 16th April with the lifting of the travel ban outwith local authority areas. We are now allowed to travel across Scotland for day trips as well as being allowed to meet in groups of up to six adults from six households in outdoor settings.

From Monday, 26th April we will see even more restrictions being lifted including the opening of non essential shops and indoor gyms for individual exercise as well as pubs, bars, cafés and restaurants who will be able to serve people outdoors in groups of up to six from six households until 10pm.

There will also be a partial resumption of indoor hospitality with food and non-alcoholic drinks allowed to be served until 8pm for groups of up to six people from no more than two households.

This is welcome news and signals a positive step forward in the fight against Coronavirus. However we would like to emphasise again that staff who can and have been working at home as a result of the pandemic should continue to do so.  For most staff this will be the case until at least the end of June in line with guidance from the Scottish Government. We will be issuing guidance in due course on more staff returning to office based locations, however, we need to ensure that we do so in a way that is Covid safe.  We are keen to engage with staff and trade unions on guidance before issuing it, particularly in the context of the longer term position on remote, workplace and blended working based on workstyle and choice.  We have seen an increase in staff who previously worked at home, coming into the office over the past week and we would discourage this unless it is necessary for youto attend a Council building for work purposes. 

We will, over the coming weeks, be looking at longer term working arrangements for staff and will issue further guidance soon.

Here’s a reminder of the FACTS guidance we must follow for a safer Scotland:

Face Coverings, Avoid Crowded Places, Clean your Hands Regularly, Two Metre Distance, Self Isolate and Book a Test if you have Symptoms.

Best wishes

Nikki, Stuart, Pete, Lorraine and Fiona

Message from SLG - 28 January 

Dear Colleagues

We have all felt the impact of the Covid pandemic over the past 10 months. It has seemed unrelenting, particularly during the long cold, dark winter months.

You and your colleagues are part of a critical workforce and everyones hard work, commitment and dedication throughout these months has been immensely valued by managers, SLG, elected members and our partners. No ones working day or personal life has been left untouched by the pandemic but you have continued to work at pace through complex, challenging and difficult times, creating new ways of working and helping to make a real difference to  how we as a Council deliver our services and support our most vulnerable.

But we know this can take it a toll so looking after your mental and physical wellbeing is important. This week we have been holding our first ever Virtual Wellbeing Week which began on Monday with Lorraine joining a “Virtual Cuppa Morning” with staff.

The session was facilitated by Alastair Hair from Workforce Development and Lorraine was delighted to see so many members of staff in the “virtual room” take part in a conversation about looking after yourself and your colleagues, being kind to each other and how you share, and continue to share, the load during tough times. Everyone has layers to deal  with and Lorraine was able to share some of her own tips and advice.

The Wellbeing week, which was organised by our Healthy Working Lives Team,  has been a collaborative effort with sessions hosted by colleagues in Health and Safety, Sports Development, Educational Psychology, and external partners such as the Samaritans and the Optima Winter Health Expo.

There have been winter wellness, mindfulness and self-care sessions along with virtual yoga and fitness classes. We hope that you managed to take part in at least some of the sessions on offer and felt some benefit from them. This is something which we are looking at running again in the coming months. In the meantime we will be sending out a Wellbeing Toolkit to staff by email, which will also be available on the Keeping Staff Connected pages, to help and support you to look after yourself.

Our staff continue to support the Covid vaccination programme. The majority of our residents over the age of 80 have now received the first does of the vaccine. The vaccination process for those who are over the age of 70 or who are at clinical risk is due to begin next week with those over 65 being invited for vaccines by mid February.

For other groups, the Covid vaccination route map sets out the following timescales:

  • Over 16s at clinical risk – beginning of March
  • Over 50s- beginning of April

This route map is welcome as it means we are on the road to recovery but we all still have a lot of work to do to ensure we contain the virus. This week a Mobile Testing Unit (MTU) was set up in Sauchie following an increase in positive cases and this is a reminder of the importance of continuing to follow the rules and stay at home as much as possible. There are still too many people catching Covid and as we heard from the First Minister on Wednesday, too many people have sadly died. 

Thank you for all you are doing and the sacrifices you are making to stay at home and help save lives. We know that it is not easy, particularly if you are juggling this with caring responsibilities. As we said in our message last week, we will get through this if we all take the time to support and look out for each other.

We continue our work to support our staff as much as possible and this week we have created a new section on our Keeping Staff Connected page which provides information on support for staff who have parental responsibilities through the Parental Employment Support fund. You can find out more about it and if you are eligible here.

Finally, we would like to wish you and your family a restful weekend ahead.

Here’s a reminder of the FACTS guidance we must follow for a safer Scotland:

Face Coverings, Avoid Crowded Places, Clean your Hands Regularly, Two Metre Distance, Self Isolate and Book a Test if you have Symptoms.

Best wishes

Nikki, Stuart, Pete and Lorraine

Message from SLG - 21 January 

Dear Colleagues

This week we heard that the current lockdown measures are to be extended until at least the middle of February with the First Minister saying that Scotland still remained in a "very precarious position".

We know that this will be disheartening news for those who have been making sacrifices to help keep our communities safe however your efforts ARE having an effect. The First Minister said that there are signs that the lockdown is "beginning to have an impact" on the number of new infections so it is more important than ever to continue to continue to follow the rules and stay at home as much as possible.

Another glimmer of hope on the road to normality is the continued rollout of the vaccine programme. A number of our staff in Health and Social Care, Children's Services and Criminal Justice, as well as care home residents have already been given the first does of the vaccine and more staff will be part of this rollout programme in the coming weeks. The roll out to communities got underway in earnest at GP surgeries and Alloa Town Hall this week.

There have also been occasions recently where we have been asked to provide lists of staff who may be able to be contacted to be vaccinated at short notice to ensure all supplies of vaccines are being used. When this happens, we need to be able to get in touch with staff so it is important that your contact details on iTrent are as up to date as possible. We would urge you to check your details over the coming days and make any necessary changes.

As a Council, our role as a Category 1 Responder is to ensure that we are supporting the most vulnerable people in our communities. The ongoing pandemic continues to put pressure on a number of areas, in particular health and social care. Our Services are reviewing their capacity and what, if any and where appropriate, staff could be redeployed to help support other essential services.

In our message last week, we talked about the importance of looking after your mental wellbeing, particularly during the month of January which can often be a difficult time of the year for many people with this year being even more challenging with new lockdown measures. To help support you through this period, we will be holding our first ever Virtual Wellbeing Week next week.

The programme of our events starts on Monday 25th with a virtual coffee morning with one of us starting at 10am for an hour which will include an update on staff wellbeing as well as an introduction to our staff Wellbeing portal followed by a "listen and learn" presentation from Falkirk Samaritans.

Each day follows a different theme:

  • Winter Wellness Monday
  • Mindfulness Tuesday
  • Active Wednesday
  • Health & Self-care Thursday
  • Fun Friday

There will be a variety of activities each day all available through Zoom. Our health and safety team have done a fantastic job pulling the event together and an ECCO message has gone out this week with the full programme of events as well as details on how you can join in sessions through Zoom. Managers have also been asked to cascade joining instructions for the Zoom sessons to their teams. You will also be able to find more information on the Latest News section of our Keeping Staff Connected page on our internet. Please go on and have a look at the variety of sessions available throughout the week.

In addition, our Sports Development Team is running a new virtual wellbeing class for staff on Wednesdays from 12.30-1pm. You can find more details of this at our online fitness classes page. Our very own version of Joe Wicks!

It's heartening to see that during a difficult period, our staff are doing everything they can not only to support our communities but also to help and support each other. We will get through this by working together and looking out for each other.

Finally, we would like to thank you again for your continued efforts.

Once again, here’s a reminder of the FACTS guidance we must follow for a safer Scotland:

Face Coverings, Avoid Crowded Places, Clean your Hands Regularly, Two Metre Distance, Self Isolate and Book a Test if you have Symptoms.

Best wishes

Nikki, Stuart, Pete and Lorraine

Message from SLG - 14 January

Dear Colleagues

We are now in our second week of new lockdown measures and on Wednesday, the First Minister announced that she was tightening these measures further because of the current pressures on our health service.

The new measures take effect on Saturday (16 January) and include changes to click and collect services which will be restricted to shops selling essential items such as clothing, footwear, homewear and baby equipment and takeaways will no longer be allowed to have customers indoors and must instead operate from a hatch or doorway. You can read more about the Scottish Government’s stay at home guidance.

Statutory guidance will also be published for employers to support staff working from home. As a local authority, we are a Category 1 responder and have a number of statutory services that we must provide while working with our partners. Our services have identified essential staff who should continue to come in to the workplace but the majority of our staff remain working from home where possible.

The message from the First Minister is clear…this is a critical time for our NHS. It is now more important than ever that we all follow the rules, as difficult as we may find them, and stay at home as much as possible to help save lives.

There is however hope with more news this week about the rollout of the vaccination programme. Our health and social care staff have already started to be vaccinated and vaccinations for our residents who are over the age of 80 will begin on Monday 18th January. These will take place at a number of locations throughout Clackmannanshire including GP practices and Alloa Town Hall as well as at home for those who are housebound.

This week we also saw a return to remote learning and our education staff, children and young people have been busy accessing learning through the national Glow platform. They have been making excellent use of Glow along with Google G Suite and the Microsoft O365 platforms to support learning and teaching.

On Monday (11th January) there were 1,419 active Google classrooms while Google Meet has already seen 12,430 attendees using the platform to check in from a range of devices including the recently acquired Scottish Government digital inclusion Chromebooks. While Covid-19 has presented many challenges, our education staff and support staff including janitors and cleaners as well as catering are more than rising to the challenge.

The recent spate of icy weather has increased the workload for our Roads teams, supported by land services, and they are out day and night ensure the county’s main routes and pathyways are clear and safe to use.

Meanwhile our health and social care staff and social work teams continue to work tirelessly during the lockdown to keep people safe and cared for.

With so many changes and for some who are juggling work demands with home life it is can be easy to feel overwhelmed. We are putting together a Welfare Toolkit which we will be sending out to all staff next week with advice and guidance on how you can look after your mental wellbeing. In the meantime, you can find more information on this on the wellbeing section of our Keeping Staff Connected page.

Once again, here’s a reminder of the FACTS guidance we must follow for a safer Scotland:

Face Coverings, Avoid Crowded Places, Clean your Hands Regularly, Two Metre Distance, Self Isolate and Book a Test if you have Symptoms.

Best wishes

Nikki, Stuart, Pete and Lorraine

Message from SLG - 8 January 

Dear Colleagues

We would like to wish you all  a Happy New Year as we look forward to the year ahead.

As you know, the start of 2021 has arrived with a new set of challenges, but ones which we are taking forward positively with your assistance, input and support. We are also working very closely with Trade Union representatives to ensure any concerns and queries you are raising with them are being addressed and/or clarified as necessary.

Earlier this week the First Minister announced a further tightening of restrictions as mainland Scotland moved from Level 4 status, which had come into effect on Boxing Day, into "strict lockdown" which is due to last until the end of January.

This will impact further on the services we are able to offer. Our schools and Early Learning Centres will move to remote learning and on Wednesday (6th January) the Scottish Government issued supplementary updated guidance regarding places at schools for the children of key workers and vulnerable children.

It is clear from this guidance that the number of children who attend schools should be limited. As a result, we are having to put in place exceptional arrangements to ensure we are following this new guidance. You can read more about this on the Latest News page of Keeping Staff Connected.

We know that with yet more changes to the restrictions it can be confusing and you may have questions on what this will mean for you not just in how you carry out your role at work but what it means for you and your family outside the workplace.

We have updated our Staff FAQ page on Keeping Staff Connected to try and allay any concerns you may have and have also added a section with information for staff members who were previously shielding. We would also urge you to speak to your manager if you feel you still have questions.

We would like to say thank you to all the staff who worked hard throughout the festive period to support residents in Tillicoultry following a power outage that affected 295 houses in the town on Christmas Eve morning.

This resulted in a multi-agency emergency response over a period of several days to get electricity and heating back to residents as quickly as possible. The sheer volume of work that was carried out was incredible and we would like to thank all staff involved from a range of Council services including emergency planning, housing repairs, housing, social work, IT and communications. Their efforts were very much appreciated and this is yet another example of the dedication and resilience which has been shown by our staff throughout the most difficult of times in the past year.  The great partnership working also attracted praise from our colleagues in SPN, who themselves demonstrated significant flexibility in delivering our collective response to the incident.

2020 was definitely a most unusal year for all of us, both professionally and personally and it’s fair to say that 2021 has not, as yet,delivered the significant positive change that we were all hoping for. The next couple of months will be tough for us all so it  is more important than ever to make sure that you are looking after your mental health and wellbeing - particularly where you might be working from home, or are feeling isolated from your colleagues, friends or loved ones.

Managing your mental health and wellbeing during January can be tricky; particularly when the dark hours are long, and having the enthusiasm to go out into the cold makes getting exercise and vitamin D more difficult so we will be sending out a mental health toolkit shortly to help and support you through this time. This will also be available on the wellbeing page of Keeping Staff Connected. Please take the time and read through the information.

Finally, while we know that another lockdown and more restrictions means more separation from loved ones and friends for another period of time, we would urge you all continue to follow the rules and the latest Government guidance to stay at home as much as possible as help the NHS to save lives. 

There is hope for a brighter future with the roll-out of not just one, but two vaccines. But we just need to get through this tough period first and we all have a part to play in making sure we do this as safely as possible. You can find more information on how to do this on the Scottish Government website.

Once again, thank you for all your work over the past year. Here’s a reminder of the FACTS guidance we must follow for a safer Scotland:

Face Coverings, Avoid Crowded Places, Clean your Hands Regularly, Two Metre Distance, Self Isolate and Book a Test if you have Symptoms.

Best wishes

Nikki, Stuart, Pete and Lorraine