budget shortfall - cheshire east council headquarters - pic by Mike Faherty

Some Cheshire East Council staff have suffered bullying and harassment, a new report into the authority’s working culture has revealed.

An independent review into the council shows while many staff don’t experience it, it is having a “profound impact” on those who do.

Of around 1,500 staff questioned, 218 said they had experienced bullying in the past six months, and 366 said they had witnessed bullying in the past six months.

Almost 350 also said the council does not take bullying seriously.

The review was called by the council leader and acting chief executive, who invited the Local Government Association to undertake the investigation.

Staff, managers, trade union representatives and councillors were surveyed.

Individuals also supplied information by email.

There were more than 1,500 responses to the survey.

The report says the council is taking “positive action” to minimise inappropriate behaviour.

But it concluded: “Sadly, bullying and harassment takes place in many large organisations.

“This is true within Cheshire East Council and where it occurs it is having a profound impact on those who are experiencing or witnessing it.

“In addition, the impact on the organisational culture and effectiveness may cause the council to lose some talented people and could potentially inhibit the behaviours and attitudes that successful 21st century public sector organisations want to see; creativity, innovation, resilience, collaboration, confidence, compassion and pride.

“Consequently, senior managers and elected members have a shared responsibility to set a new ‘tone’ for the council in which everyone must play their part in ensuring it is sustainable.”

Kath O'Dwyer 2 - acting chief exec CECActing chief executive Kath O’Dwyer (pictured, right) said she was “saddened” by some of the review’s findings.

“Bullying and harassment are not acceptable in the workplace.

“Our staff, quite rightly, should expect to be able to come to work and be treated fairly and with respect.

“We are pleased to hear most of our staff have never experienced or witnessed either harassment or bullying in the workplace.

“But we will not shy away from the fact some have experienced behaviour from others within the organisation that is not acceptable.

“As such, I am saddened by some of the review findings.

“But we are determined to take all necessary action to address the issues of concern identified within the review.”

The report states there is a foundation of wellbeing policies and initiatives in place.

And it says many staff have acknowledged there has been a “noticeable improvement over the last year”.

Ms O’Dwyer added: “We have fantastic and talented staff working on behalf of our communities and they have a right to work without fear and in an organisation with a positive culture.

“We are fully committed to building upon our strengths and addressing any concerns that our staff may have shared. I welcome the frankness and openness of all those staff, members and trade unions representatives who contributed.”

The report makes a series of recommendations for the authority to improve its working culture and practices in the future.

To read the full report and recommendations, visit http://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/council_and_democracy/your_council/Local-Government-Association-Culture-Review.aspx

(pic of CEC HQ by Mike Faherty, creative commons licence)

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