Analysis Of Housing Management Change

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To present to the Board of Trustees a report on the proposed re-structure of the organisations floating support services following significant cuts in funding. ANCHO aims to provide best value services to enable the creation of thriving communities and regards its staff as its most important asset. If changes to service delivery within the organisation takes place, ANCHO wants to accommodate these changes in a positive way and where possible, providing development opportunities for employee’s; without threat to job security.

Current Position

Following a review of ANCHO’s future sustainability, ANCHO’s Management Board recognised that, although ANCHO was in a strong position, there were tangible future risks to the business which should be faced strategically, rather than reactively. The Board then agreed for a Consultant to come and look over the business and suggest potential ways on which to reduce overheads and increase future sustainability.

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The service currently consists of two office-based teams operating at separate locations. Each Office has 7 staff members and 1 service manager (16 staff in total covering both sites). Both these offices offer advice and assistance to tenants in order to sustain their tenancies.

It is proposed that ANCHO merge these two teams into a new central office location to increase efficiency and reduce overheads, as a result of the merger there will be a potential risk for reduction in staff numbers.

Following recent discussions with affected staff, both the existing service managers have decided to leave, and four members of staff have successfully secured posts elsewhere leaving 10 members of staff. Following these changes, it would result in a new team of 11 staff, 1 Service Manager (which will need to be appointed), 6 office-based workers and 4 home workers.

I propose that the new Service Manager should be in post within the next 3 months and the new team within the next 4 months.

Implementation/Next Steps Evaluation

Recruitment – I propose that the new post of Service Manager be advertised immediately and the selection process to include an assessment approach followed by panel interview. This will give the interviewing panel an opportunity to observe a number of skills and behaviours that may not have been required previously, and, provides the applicant with an opportunity to demonstrate their current capabilities and future potential.

This will be done as early as possible to allow the appointment of the successful candidate as Service Manager whilst the existing managers serve their notice. This ensures that the newly appointed Service Manager will receive the support needed and enable a smooth transition of responsibilities and integration into the new team.

The new Service Manager will work with staff to build new cultural values that will underpin everything that ANCHO do, but will also reflect the times and new challenges they will face.

Due Diligence – ANCHO should progress to the formal stage of due diligence with a view to merging the two office-based locations to one central office location. This process will commence immediately. It is also recommended that ANCHO approve and recruit a new service manager.

Relocation – I propose that a new centralised location be sought for the new team. Due to a reduction in staff numbers, an adequate office space would be required.

Once the new centralised area is identified for the new office, a review of staffs ‘Contract of Employment’ will be required to establish if there is a ‘mobility clause’ noted within, and if not, consider if you would like to provide the staff with a relocation package.

Consultation with the staff with regards to the move should commence, making sure all your staff know what’s happening. Set up a bulletin board or intranet with key information, such as FAQ’s.

The Service Manager should help and support staff to plan their move and advise on allocation of structure, agree a timetable and the steps needed throughout the move i.e when to clear their desks, what to tell clients, when to move, etc., answer questions, act as a point of contact for all agencies involved in the move and brief staff to inform them of their responsibilities and to answer questions and request that staff take personal items home for safe keeping.

Homeworking – Due to their being no arrangement already in place for home working, a home working policy, procedure and process should be set up. Such a policy should cover the criteria for assessing whether a homeworking arrangement will be practical, effective and meet business needs. It should include how homeworkers will be managed and implications for matters ranging from taxation to security of the organisation’s information. The policy should be determined through talks between employer and employees, and the employee’s representative; where they exist, a trade union representative or where there is a recognised agreement with a trade union, the organisation will consult. Any reviews and subsequent amendments by the employer or amendments to other polices, should also be settled through structured consulting with staff. Any negotiating of homeworking arrangements, both employees and employer should be aware of the effect on contract of employments and other policies I.e. discipline and grievances and managing performance etc.

I would also recommend Home Working for some members of staff as this will result in a smaller office being required, which will reduce overheads i.e. rent, utility bills etc. As part of the consultation process, determine interest and see if this is something that staff would welcome as an option. Once interest has been received a scoping exercise would need to be carried out to ascertain which members of staff best suit homeworking.

Home working is a type of employment arrangement where staff members can carry out core functions at home instead of their workplace. It is an increasingly popular arrangement in the UK and realising the potential benefits from it, many employers operate it on various conditions.

There are two types of home working:

  • Contractual home workers are employees based at home on a regular basis either for all their working week or part of it.
  • Occasional home workers spend the majority of their time at their workplace but now and then may work from home, normally to perform a specific non-routine task that requires a high level of concentration with minimum interruptions.

The employer must take overall responsibility for assessing health & safety in the part of the home where the employee will work and in some circumstances this responsibility can extend to other parts of the home.

Employers should also be mindful that, all customers, stakeholders and interdependencies still need to be able to communicate with employees who work from home. The employer should take reasonable steps to allow this to happen.

The employer should ask themselves if both the job and jobholder are suitable. An early step for an employer assessing whether to encourage, allow or refuse a request for an employee to work from home some or much of the time should be to assess and determine if the job is suitable for homeworking

Some things to consider when thinking about home working is the advantages and disadvantages, these can include:

  • Advantages – Reduction in overheads i.e. business rates, rents and utility bills by reducing office space etc, increasing number of employee’s with responsibilities caring for family, including the elderly, rising costs in commuting etc
  • Disadvantages – Supervising home workers can be more difficult than overseeing staff in the office. A supervisor and home worker are likely to have to work harder to build trust between them it can also take more effort for managers to communicate with homeworkers. Homeworkers might not put themselves in a position where they can develop as they become settled, there might be extra costs involved for the home worker due to being home all day i.e. electricity, gas, etc.

Managers will take into account that not everyone learns in the same way, which could present challenges for the manager responsible for their staffs learning and development. Managers and their staff should have a discussion to identify how they learn best and what learning style suits the individual staff member to achieve the best results, although this may not always be the case as some individual may require more time to learn. (weightman 2004).

Various studies have been carried out over the years covering learning theories and individual behaviours, Phycologist Robert Gagne (weightman 2004) summarised a few behaviours in which individuals learned, these included:

  • The learner has to want to or be motivated to learn
  • What is to be learned has to be distinguished from other tasks, and a clear objective identified.
  • What is to be learned must be related to the familiar so it makes sense
  • All learners have short term memory and long term memory
  • There must be feedback on performance, so that the learner knows whether performance as a result of learning has improved.

As well as individuals behaviours, managers will also have to take into account individuals learning process as Honey and Mumford (Mullins, 2016) explained in another study. The study explained that there are 4 different types of learning styles and by choosing the right type will more likely produce the best outcome. These styles are:

  • Reflector (can I have a think about this?)
  • Pragmatist (How does this work in the real world?)
  • Theorist (why does this work like that?)
  • Activist (Can I have a go at doing this now?)

Managers, however, will need to strategically manage some difficult challenges that may arise like inconsistent working practices and implementation of policies, lack of formal and informal contact with staff, irregular and ineffective team meetings, home working staff feeling like they’re not part of a team and conflict amongst their team.

Conflict can occur when staff ‘s perception/understanding differs from others, staff feel like their competing against one another, when staff feel like they are being treated differently or feel like they are being bullied or harassed or even things that the managers are unaware of like personal stress and pressures.

Managers can try and limit the impact on this affecting the organisation by following good practice and understand each staff members strength and allocating tasks accordingly, setting clear objectives, performance targets and indicators. Managers can also organise non-financial rewards to motivate staff, organise team building activities or give staff members who are likely to have conflict the opportunity to work together. Where Managers are unable to stop conflict arising between staff members, the Manager will have to address the issue as soon as possible to avoid it escalating as this can impact on the atmosphere and dynamics of the office/organisation environment.

Managers should ensure that every opportunity is taken to discuss any issues that staff may have at one to one and team meetings. Communication between a Manager and his team is imperative to deliver successful outcomes.

Consultation and engagement – Any proposed change to working conditions/practices and/or service provisions, which may or may not affect the employment of current staff, will be discussed in advance with potentially affected employees and the appropriate recognised trade unions and/or staff organisations.

The discussions will take place as soon as reasonably practicable but before the proposed change occurs. ANCHO representatives shall provide details of the reasons for the proposed change(s) and the anticipated impact upon employees

Consultation with staff and union representatives will need to be carried out on changes to staff’s terms and conditions of employment, voluntary redundancies and flexible work patterns for staff (home working). The methods of consultation can include:

  • Area based drop-in sessions open to all staff to outline the structure proposals
  • Focus groups involving area staff looking at draft job descriptions and published for comment
  • Frequently Asked Questions have been regularly updated and circulated
  • Individual team meetings and one to ones to take place to support staff
  • Regular meetings with human resources regarding all aspects of the structure

At any individual meetings regarding the organisational change process, the employee is entitled to be accompanied by a trade union/staff representative. The manager should seek the accompaniment of the Human Resources Officer at these meetings.

Staff consultation reports will be issued to all affected employees and recognised trade unions explaining why it is important for the changes to occur and the intended benefits. All employees and union representatives will be invited to offer responses to the proposals as a key element of the consultation exercise and this process has been underway for some weeks now.

ANCHO recognises that this process can be unsettling for staff and aims to minimise the uncertainty by concluding the consultation exercise fairly, with openness and as quick as possible; providing staff with a period for re-adjustment.

ANCHO provides a number of different options to minimise the effect on staff, including voluntary redundancy.

Where an employee’s application for voluntary redundancy is accepted, the employee will be notified, in writing, as soon as possible. Thereafter a meeting will be set up with the employee to discuss and agree a leaving date, after clarification of entitlement to notice, final pay, benefits, and redundancy pay.

ANCHO will need to work hard to ensure that staff remain engaged and motivated to continue to deliver excellent service standards. We will do this by consulting and involving staff at every juncture. ANCHO should have several staff sessions and prepare a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) sheet that can be shared with staff and update this as and when new questions are asked.

In a constantly changing environment, ANCHO needs to continuously ensure it has the right workforce to respond to the challenges and changes it faces. This needs a planned and coherent framework of HR strategies, policies and processes which reflect the organisations business strategy, and are most likely to produce the performance necessary to achieve business aims, targets and objectives. Levels of knowledge and skills must be aligned to organisational needs and reinforced by appropriate recruitment, training and development; and performance management frameworks (pay & reward systems) needed to reinforce the standards and behaviours required to achieve objectives (Mullins, 2016)

ANCHO recognise they will only operate efficiently and effectively if they have staff with the necessary skills, expertise and behaviours. Effective recruitment is therefore the key to their success. The new post should fall in line with the organisations recruitment policy which provides guidance on the recruitment and selection process of staff to ensure the best candidates are selected and recruitment is carried out fairly and consistently. Recruitment and selection will be carried out in line with the ANCHO’s values. ANCHO’s aim for it’s workforce is to reflect the communities in which they work in and welcome equality and diversity within their selection process.

Prior to advertising this post, ANCHO must review their policies and procedures to ensure they have taken account of the nine protected characteristics detailed within The Equality Act 2010 i.e. age, disability, gender re-assignment, pregnancy, race, religion etc. which should not be discriminated upon and should be fair and open to all.

To ensure that the proposed structure complies with relevant policies, including the organisational principles. Consultation with the unions and staff on the structure should commence immediately.

Trade unions will be briefed in confidence on the proposals to review and restructure the floating support service staff and will be consulted with and kept informed on proposed changes and outcomes.

Subject to decision approval, the proposed date to end the consultation period is 20th December 2019, with implementation taking place and the new structure taking effect on 1st March 2020.

Working lives are more closely tied to personal lives than ever before. Employees get attached to their current position and they don’t always embrace change. Listen to them and provide support and re-assurance; when required.

Any comments or suggestions received by staff and union representatives should be taken into consideration and where appropriate, changes should be made.

Prior to any of this taking place, I recommend a structured stage process be drawn up and agreed with management showing the implementation of changes required, these should include:-

  • Set goals – what needs to be done and by when
  • Identify a solution – how are we going to get there
  • Prepare for implementation – what resources do we need
  • Implementing the project – how do we influence people and deal with the unexpected?
  • Review progress – how are we doing
  • Maintain the progress – are there any problems? (weightman 2016)

Managers need to look at the culture within the organisation and the impact that this may have on the organisations and if they have a capacity to change, this includes at looking at a number of key factors i.e. primary purpose and functions, customers, staff, size of organisation, geographical location, external environment, legislations and regulation. Managers should also anticipate some resistance to the changes being considered at an early stage as staff could become daunted and feel unsettled if they think that their security at work is threatened. Studies by Professor John Kotter identifies that overcoming resistance Managers have to share their understanding of the change to those affected, involve those affected by the change, training and counselling for those involved, where appropriate, negotiations and agreement with their job roles and responsibilities. (1979, /mullins 2014)

Conclusion

Prior to these proposals, ANCHO explored potential partnership opportunities with other housing organisations and in July 2016 initial discussions were had with ANCHO’s Management Board with regards to a potential partnership with Cairn Housing Association.

Meetings were held between ANCHO’s Director, Cairns CEO, senior staff of both organisations and representatives from both ANCHO and Cairns Management board where the discussed partnership and carried out scoping exercises and scoring systems with the aim of securing the best future of ANCHO’s tenants and customers. Following approval from both ANCHO and Cairn Housing Association for the partnership to go ahead, the Scottish Housing Regulator was contacted and Due Diligence commenced and a timetable was agreed between both organisations (appendix 1)

ANCHO were keen on making sure that tenants/customers and staff were well informed with every process and communicate with tenants at every opportunity (appendix 2) and updated staff at monthly team meetings throughout the process as well as putting information on their internal internet site for staff to access as any time.

The proposal to restructure the floating support staff compliments the significant reduction on funding. These changes will deliver the required budgetary savings whilst limiting the impact to tenants/customers. 

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