Manager in a meeting

Clear and Focused: Maximising Staff Retention in Local Government with Advanced

The state of play

Local authorities remain under pressure in 2024, as budgetary shortfalls continue to take their toll and the demands of the new Procurement Act begin to hit home. At the same time, organisations across the country – including local authorities – are facing an employee retention crisis.

In 2023, Advanced surveyed over 6,600 senior decision makers from a broad range of sectors including law, education, HR, health, IT, and central and local government. Across all sectors, 41% of respondents said that attraction and retention of staff was the biggest problem facing their organisation today. For local and central government, this figure was higher, at 59%.

A recent report by the Social Market Foundation (SMF) and the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) also highlights workplace shortages in local government. The report found recruitment and retention to be the most common obstacle faced by managers and local council leaders in 2023 (38%).

Management and morale

The SMF/CMI report found that 40% of senior managers in local authorities believe quality leadership to be the most important factor in determining organisational success. One fifth (20%) said that senior leadership in their organisation is ineffective.

The same report cited morale as the second most important factor for success (37%). However, 40 % of respondents said that senior leaders are ineffective at motivating staff, or fail to do so at all.  Performance management is also an issue, with 24% of respondents believing their local authority to be ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ at addressing underperformance.

The importance of good management pertaining to retention is highlighted by the Local Government Association (LGA) in their ‘best practice’ framework, which states: “It is important to consider your employees with a focus on retention. As a council you will want to create a positive working environment and give people a reason to stay in the sector. Consider what rewards and benefits you can implement, as well as offering a clear career progression plan”.

Making changes

Good management, then, is clearly of great importance. An effective management system should include the ability to give clear feedback and constructive criticism, set clear objectives, and provide a pathway to career progression. Such a system should allow for praise at regular intervals, and continually measure performance through unbiased processes.

This regular feedback is a central function of any continuous performance management (CPM) model. While the concept is not new (forward-thinking bosses have been implementing CPM for decades) the term CPM is a recent one, and is now used by major corporations including Adobe, GE, and Microsoft.

Properly implemented, the CPM should act as a value proposition in the recruitment phase. With a reputation for staff wellbeing and progression, local authorities should find it much easier to recruit employees with the required skillsets.

Software solutions

Performance and Talent is a highly effective digital CPM for local authorities and other public sector organisations. The system is hosted in the cloud, meaning there is nothing to download. The user can access Performance and Talent from anywhere with an internet connection, making it ideal for flexible and out-of-hours working.

The software features an intuitive dashboard with clear charts and heatmaps. The dashboard lets the user compare performance over time, and set employee objectives for individual and collaborative tasks. These objectives can be reworked as the year evolves, giving employees clear targets to work towards.

Performance and Talent makes it easy to create and share feedback from all areas of the organisation. Praise and constructive criticism are encouraged from all staff members, meaning that those who may otherwise go unnoticed receive the recognition they deserve. When praise and feedback is consistent, staff stay motivated – leading to increased wellbeing and higher levels of employee retention.


Discover how Performance and Talent keeps employees engaged and on-track today.


Image credit: iStock


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