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Practices Recognition of staff achievements at Blyth Valley Borough Council in Northumberland happens officially on an annual basis at the Go the Extra Mile awards evening. This event is based on the Oscars and rewards staff, teams and partners who have been nominated in various categories.
A short, light-hearted DVD is produced for each category which introduces the contenders. Winners and runners-up each receive an engraved trophy that they keep. The awards ceremony is organised and presented by members of staff. It is a free event with a donation to charity made at the end of the evening.
At other times, individuals who have performed well may receive a financial payment in recognition of their achievement. Teams that have performed well may receive funds towards a social evening out to reward their efforts.
The council offers a free payroll service to seven voluntary organisations. It also provides free rooms for voluntary and community groups to use.
The Action Team for Jobs provides free practical and financial support to get people back to work. The team also runs a project called Prescription for Learning which helps residents who are off sick or on incapacity benefit to become more active within their community. This allows them to take part in activities where they can gain confidence.
As aspirations increase, the project supports them on to training courses that will help them to become more active in body and mind, so promoting better health.
The chief executive welcomes face-to-face contact by staff. He can also be contacted by phone and e-mail. Regular roadshow events are held for all employees, at which the chief executive briefs employees on current corporate issues. Employees are offered the opportunity to send any feedback directly to the chief executive on current issues or any topic they wish to discuss.
As part of the Skills for Life programme, an essential-skills tutor from a local college has attended council premises one day a week for those employees wishing to brush up on skills for life such as literacy and numeracy. The council also uses e-learning to make training materials more accessible to all members of the workforce, and the material can be accessed through any of the council’s desktop computers. The council also has a dedicated learning centre for those employees who do not have access to a computer.
In April 2008 the council launched a new health and wellbeing strategy. A ten-point plan underpins a targeted approach to reduce sickness absence and generally to improve the health and wellbeing of employees and increase morale.
The plan includes a monthly programme of wellbeing initiatives offering healthy cooking workshops with demonstrations given by a top chef, Indian head massage taster sessions, blood pressure checks and a seminar on back care from an osteopath.
Pay and benefits Job sharing, flexi-time, reduced and compressed hours and annualised and staggered hours are available to all employees, and home working is available to most. Benefits include subsidised sports facilities, an employee assistance programme and long-service awards.
Learn more about the 8 factors of workplace engagement here
10% of staff undertake charitable activities during business hours
40% of employees with more than 5 years' service
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