Long-serving council employees might soon be in line to get more than a £5 Book Token and a handshake with leader Pete Marland as reward for more than 25 years of service.
Milton Keynes Council is looking into various ways that it might be able to attract and keep hold of good employees after its performance was affected by staffing issues in its planning and housing departments.
At the same time a recently introduced schemes of giving £5,000 Golden Hellos to experienced social workers has proved to be a resounding success in filling vacancies. It’s also saved the council from having to use expensive agency staff.
Cllr Ric Brackenbury (Lib Dem, Campbell Park & Old Woughton) said: “What they get for 25 years’ service is a £5 Book Token and a handshake with the leader, and we’re asking if that’s credible at the moment to people who have given a great deal of their life to serving this council.
“There’s going to be a report to look into these and come up with options and it may be something we want to come back to as a scrutiny committee.”
Cllr Brackenbury, who chairs the council’s Scrutiny Management Committee, had, at a meeting of the Cabinet on Tuesday, said the council’s performance in “critical areas” like housing and planning had been hit by the number of staff vacancies.
“Where there are professional and technical roles in the public sector – and I see this in my own role – it is not news that the salaries we can offer do not compare with the private sector.
“The difficulty is that we spend time getting somebody in, potentially spending a lot of time training them up, and then once they’ve got those skills, we lose them soon afterwards and we have to bear the cost and we don’t get the gain.”
He added that it would make sense to “get a grip” compared “against the risk of not doing so. ”
Cllr Rob Middleton (Lab, Wolverton), Cabinet member for resources and innovation, said he has asked officers to put together a paper to deal with staff vacancies in different parts of the council.
“There are things we can be doing and perhaps those need to be widened to some of these other areas to try to access a wider pool of people,” he said.
To laughter in the council chamber, leader Cllr Pete Marland (Lab, Wolverton), joked: “Having taken part in many of the council’s fantastic 25 year service schemes and handed out those £5 Book Tokens, I’m not entirely sure what more we could do.”