Brent Council identified development and training needs to equip its 5,500 staff, and 63 elected members, with the skills needed to meet New Labour's drive for local government modernisation. The New Labour message was for councils to deliver high quality, efficient and effective services that were relevant to local people.
The council also wanted to improve staff morale, cut staff turnover and tackle the high number of industrial tribunals.
The council's comms team launched Improving Brent, a branded programme of training courses and staff forums. It entered its second phase in September 2002.
To encourage participation from staff in over 30 different schemes aimed at improving the range of services provided by Brent Council.
Strategy and Plan
Brent's Design Unit created a logo depicting a well-known statue of a figure catching a star, that stands en route to Wembley Stadium.
Each year, the comms unit produces a booklet detailing development opportunities and schemes which is circulated to staff, and produces an annual publication about the programme's progress.
The campaign features in Brent Matters, the council's monthly staff magazine, staff newsletters and is backed up by monthly poster campaigns.
As well as providing PR activity in support of the entire programme, the council's comms team organises a number of the programme's activities.
These include work seminars for staff, communication skills training, a staff awards scheme, corporate strategy roadshows and the senior manager's conference.
Measurement and Evaluation
The Improving Brent Programme is evaluated via Brent's bi-annual staff survey, staff focus groups and evaluation forms given to staff.
Receipt of information about the programme, recognition of the brand, and the take-up rate and relevance to an individual's work of each of the programme's activities are evaluated.
Brent's staff regularly receive updates. Ninety five per cent of them recognise the Improving Brent brand and can name at least one development opportunity. Eighty five per cent of staff have participated in activities.
Since the launch, Brent Council has been awarded Beacon status for its neighbourhood renewal programme and urban green spaces, and won numerous nationally recognised awards.
Many service units have gained Investors in People status and the council is well on its way to achieving the same status for the whole organisation.
The recent staff survey showed improvements in job satisfaction and with learning and development opportunities. The council also believes that the number of industrial tribunals has decreased.