Aims of the strategy

This Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) relates to the introduction of a new employee engagement platform for Dorset Council. An employee engagement platform is an information technology (IT) system and a way for organisations to interact with and receive feedback from employees from across the workforce, by ways of communication methods and surveys. Some systems also offer data and information to enable organisations to measure the impact of their engagement interventions. 

The system the council is procuring is called Hive and it opens up the potential for employee engagement, bringing together pulse (quick and short) surveys across the organisation or for specific areas, allowing us to analyse responses at a council-wide, service specific or demographic level, promote peer-to-peer recognition and get a real flavour for the cultural feel of Dorset Council. 

Employee engagement is a fundamental part of an organisation’s development, growth and success. Achieving high levels of employee engagement is never easy and is always more challenging during intense periods of change. As such, following the formation of Dorset Council, we have tried many methods and systems of engaging employees from across the workforce. A new engagement platform (IT system/package) allows us the ability to engage digitally with our workforce, without excluding those who either do not have access, or have very minimal access, to council-hosted IT accounts. It does not replace, nor will be used instead of, formal consultations led by trade unions for their collective bargaining agreements.

The outcome from procuring and embedding the system is for the organisation to undertake and benefit from concise, meaningful and interactive engagement through more direct means. 

Background to the proposal

In the lead up to the formation of Dorset Council, the legacy councils had varying levels of success when it came to employee engagement, mainly owing to the differences in the ways they worked. Some benefited from the ability to hold closer networked engagement, whereas others utilised digital platforms and employee briefings to disseminate information and gain organisational insight. 

In preparation for becoming one organisation, consideration into how we engaged with the workforce needed to take place. As part of the transformation programme, the Shaping Dorset Council team held a number of employee briefings and manager forums. The Organisational Development (OD) work stream team created the ‘Shaping Dorset Council questionnaire’, from which formed the employee forum, a group of over 340 employees from across the organisation. Whole workforce briefings, need to know newsletters, employee forums, manager forums, Trade Union joint meetings and blogs and vlogs were the main methods for informing and gathering insight from the organisation. These will continue to be how we communicate, but with Hive sitting alongside them, it will only compliment how we engage with the workforce. With Dorset Council in its formative year, we need to positively address the way that we engage with our employees to ensure its ability to respond to the future challenges facing local government. 

Legacy councils all historically struggled trying to engage pockets of the workforce technologically disadvantaged when it comes to council systems. Some roles do not require continual (or any) access to council networks or accounts, such as members of our grounds maintenance team, passenger assistants, school crossing patrol staff or refuse loaders. This means that the most effective formats of communication and engagement used for desk-based jobs is redundant for those roles without access. An engagement platform is exactly that – a platform to capture insight and engagement from anyone in the workforce, whether they have a council account or not. 

In an effort to improve the level of understanding around engagement within the council, to get ‘real time’ feedback from the workforce and to pull together tangible actions to improve engagement, we undertook some soft market testing of products in the field, including Hive, Perkbox and Culture Amp. Soft market testing involved researching the products available and undertaking virtual demonstrations of the systems with members of their sales teams. We looked at the usability, functionality and outcomes the systems produced. For the successful platform of this soft market testing, we also received multiple testimonials from public sector organisations across the country who have invested with them. Hive was deemed the best platform for Dorset Council’s needs, with the benefits identified in the business case being:

  • increased level of employee engagement, by making the process more convenient and easier;

  • faster process of obtaining engagement data/survey responses from the workforce and turning into tangible action plans;

  • better understanding of engagement levels across all areas of the organisation;

  • engages those ‘harder-to-reach’ sections of the organisation with minimal/no access to IT whilst at work and provides the ability to survey and engage with them via mobile phones and other mechanisms. The system provides the ability to send SMS messages with links to questionnaires/surveys that are accessible on mobile devices.

  • provides ‘real time’ feedback – doesn’t take weeks/months to analyse survey results;

  • easy to understand dashboards for Human Resources (HR) & OD, the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and managers for understanding results by highlighting areas of success and areas in need of support and development;

  • initial bench marking survey with ability to send pulse surveys throughout the year;

  • access to occupational psychologists to interpret data and support building actions as a result;

  • hive works with a provider to develop the right engagement approach for Dorset Council;

  • provide peer-to-peer recognition and reporting through Hive-Five package. Hive-Fives allow individuals at all levels across the organisation to log-in to virtually ‘recognise’ colleagues for their contributions to the organisation. We will be able to work with Hive to ensure that the feedback is accessible by managers and employees to support the corporate behaviour of recognition

Intelligence and communication

Data, information, evidence and research used and how it has influenced the decision-making process 

  • data is included on the demographic information available within Dorset Council. 

  • research being undertaken on how the system may positively impact on those without Dorset Council IT accounts and the extent of those currently without access. There are between 600-700 employees identified as without an account. Hive will not be used for work with schools. 

  • meetings have taken place with members of the assessment group, Trade Union representatives and representatives of the network groups assisted in system testing. 

  • system testing for accessibility considerations taking place. System testing was supported with Delia Carr’s User Adoption team. Colleagues with accessibility requirements were asked to take part in the testing. 

  • consultation will take place with employee support groups within Dorset Council from the former sovereign Councils. 

  • consultation will take place from the relevant/time dependant Equality & Diversity Action Group (DAG)

Hive is an engagement platform to ascertain the impact of the culture of Dorset Council on it’s workforce. As such, the people the platform will have an impact on is solely internal.  

The data contained within this EqIA for internal analysis relates to non-school’s employees, as the system does not encompass those working in schools. The data below was collected at two different times. The data for age, disability, ethnicity and gender were all collected as at 31 October 2019. The data for sexual orientation and religion/belief was as part of an EqIA collected between 29-31 May 2019. It relates to all employees of Dorset Council, held on the HR Payroll systems: SAP and ResourceLink. Please see the EqIA here

Data as at 31 May 2019 

Gender

Category Overall workforce (Amount  /  %)

Male

1,758  /  37.37%

Female

2,946  /  62.63%

Total

100

Ethnicity 

Category Overall workforce (Amount  /  %)

White British

3,258  /  69.26%

White Other

113  /  2.4%

BAME

53  /  1.13%

Disability 

Category Overall workforce (Amount  /  %)

Disabled

129  /  2.74%

Not disabled

2,710  /  57.61%

Prefer not to say

312  /  6.63%

Not declared

1,553  /  33.01%

Total

100

Age

Category Overall workforce (Amount  /  %)

14 – 24 *

293  / 6.23%

25 – 39

1,124  /  23.89%

40 – 49

1,116  /  23.72%

50 – 59

1,441  /  30.63%

60 – 64

482  /  10.25%

65+

248  /  5.27%

Total

100

* Employees aged between 14-16 are 'Casual Swim Helpers'

Data collected between 29-31 May 2019: 

Religion/Belief

Category Overall workforce (%)

Christian

15.14

Buddhist

0.14

Hindu

0.02

Jewish

0.02

Muslim

0.02

Other

0.72

No religion

10.99

Prefer not to say

4.02

Not declared

68.93

Total

100

Sexual orientation

Category Overall workforce (%)

Heterosexual

37.13

Lesbian / Gay

0.58

Bisexual

0.16

Other

0.27

Prefer not to say

7.04

Not declared

54.82

Total

100

Engagement or consultation has taken place as part of this EqIA

Prior to confirming procurement of the system, various parties have had demonstrations of the system, tested and reviewed the process. These include:

  • Chief Executive and Senior Leadership Team

  • Interim Head of OD

  • Service Manager for Communications and Engagement

  • Service Manager for Digital Strategy and Design

  • Senior Digital Adoption Officer

  • members of the employee networks 

As part of the launch it is likely that further feedback would be sought from our employee forum and Trade Union colleagues

Feedback 

  • E-mail responses

  • EqIA review meetings

Assessment 

Impacts of the policy

impacts table

Impacts on who or what? Effect Details

Age

Positive

The system enables individuals to provide anonymous real-time feedback on questions asked by the organisation. Questions are derived with help from People Scientists from Hive, in conjunction with business intelligence and direction from Organisation Development and Communications within Dorset Council. 

As such, giving employees the ability to provide anonymous feedback that will be promptly turned into measurable organisational actions means that individuals will be directly contributing to the council’s development, ultimately creating a positive place to work, an employer of choice and a more engaged workforce. 

The reporting functionality in the system allows for more meaningful data to be extrapolated from Hive. Using the engagement data, survey responses and ‘Hive Fives’ to analyse results by age. Therefore, if there is a correlation between how certain age groups are feeling in the organisation, whether positive or negative, then this can be accessed more readily and be used to influence workplans either for services, teams or the workforce as a whole. We can also see if certain age groups use Hive Five for peer recognition more/less than others and investigate reasons for this to promote and enable participation. For example, if data suggests that there are trends where engagement is affected negatively (or positively) for a certain age group (either council-wide or within a certain area), we will be able to target OD interventions to those areas for a positive impact. 

The fact that the feedback is anonymous and won’t be reported down to individual responses means that there will be no ability for discrimination based on age with regards to feedback received.

Disability

Unclear

We have undertaken some system testing to ensure that the system is able to cope with the accessibility systems in place at the council, as well as meeting accessibility guidelines. There were a few recorded issues which have been raised and are being addressed, as well as some concerns over the way the system integrates with Dragon software in particular, for employees that need a system to support with any disabilities relating to their vision. We have spoken with Hive on the developments they are making to the system. 

The response from the Head of Sales at Hive is:

Hive doesn't currently integrate with Dragon software and it is currently not fully compliant with the Accessibility Regulations 2018.

Hive has been engineered with accessibility as a top priority, making it quick and easy for employees to take part in ongoing surveys on a regular basis, regardless of their IT
capabilities. Hive’s online, responsive and anonymous surveys are accessible via smartphone, PC or tablet. Employees can be prompted to participate via email or SMS text, and can complete on a device of their choosing. Our surveys are one click to respond with instant access, meaning no logins, passwords or demographic selections are required to access the survey. We can also support paper surveys and language translation, where required. 

Prior to signing contracts with Hive, we created an Action Plan regarding accessibility, to ensure that the issues we are facing are being addressed. Part of the action plan to work with Hive on noted issues to ensure they become fully compliant with the Accessibility Regulations 2018. Initial user testing has confirmed that when using Microsoft Edge (which is available on council devices), the functionality is accessible. However, we need to do some further scoping to see how planned changes to devices (both laptop and mobile) may affect this. We know that there is a deal of work taking place within IT to update devices which will all be enabled with Microsoft Edge; an option to mitigate issues would be to include a message in the communications plan that for those who use the Dragon software to ensure that they open the survey in the Edge browser, rather than any other. 

As such, more work needs to be done to review the position with regards to accessibility concerns. Though there may be an impact on those who use Dragon software in terms of accessing the system, we need to be able to weigh the council-wide benefits of how many people we would never usually be able to access up against how many would be affected by not having compatible software. We would always want to ensure that we offer alternative methods of engagement for Dragon users to be able to feed directly into the snap surveys and recognition system. However, initial research into the roll out of new mobile phones suggests that non-Windows phones will be used; Edge will not be compatible, so Chrome would be the default browser. IT are undertaking more accessibility testing through Chrome. 

Hive have agreed the sign off of the action plan and want to work with the council to address any concerns around accessibility that come up whilst using the system. 

Ultimately, Hive do provide a service where paper-based questionnaires can be used, to ensure that those who aren’t able to use the systems as a result of any accessibility issues, have the ability to contribute.

Does this affect a specific disability group?

n/a

Dragon software users – there are approximately 65 users in Dorset Council

Gender Reassignment & Gender Identity

Religion or belief

Sexual orientation

Marriage or civil partnership

 

Neutral

The system enables individuals to provide anonymous real-time feedback on questions asked by the organisation. Questions are derived with help from the People Scientists at Hive, in conjunction with business intelligence and direction from Organisation Development and Communications within Dorset Council. 

As such, giving employees the ability to provide anonymous feedback that will be promptly turned into measurable organisational actions means that individuals will be directly contributing to the council’s development, ultimately creating a positive place to work, an employer of choice and a more engaged workforce. 

The fact that the feedback is anonymous means that there will be no ability for discrimination based on their protected characteristic.

Pregnancy and maternity

Positive

For those who are away from the workforce, should they wish, they would be able to continue to engage in pulse employee surveys to provide feedback and insight into a range of work that they may miss if on maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental leave. 

Work needs to be done to develop a process to ensure that those leaving for a break in their careers for pregnancy/maternity reasons are able to register for the system whilst their system account is inaccessible whilst away from work, but assuming this is seamlessly implemented, there should only be a positive impact. If an employee is away from work through pregnancy or maternity reasons, it will be their choice to provide their personal email address to take part in the surveys that are issued during their absence. If they wish to not take part in the surveys, they need not provide their details and their default work email address will be used. This can be edited too, so that if they provide their personal email address and are uncomfortable with the volume of interaction, we can revert their email to be their work account.

Race and Ethnicity

Positive

The system enables individuals to provide anonymous real-time feedback on questions asked by the organisation. Questions are derived with help from the People Scientists at Hive, in conjunction with business intelligence and direction from Organisation Development and Communications within Dorset Council. 

As such, giving employees the ability to provide anonymous feedback that will be promptly turned into measurable organisational actions means that individuals will be directly contributing to the council’s development, ultimately creating a positive place to work, an employer of choice and a more engaged workforce. 

The fact that the feedback is anonymous means that there will be no ability for discrimination based on race or ethnicity with regards to feedback received. 

For those where English is not their first language, Hive offers the ability to translate information to different languages, meaning that there will be no language barrier or misunderstanding in terms of contributing through engagement channels.

Sex

Positive

The system enables individuals to provide anonymous real-time feedback on questions asked by the organisation. Questions are derived with help from the People Scientists at Hive, in conjunction with business intelligence and direction from Organisation Development and Communications within Dorset Council. 

As such, giving employees the ability to provide anonymous feedback that will be promptly turned into measurable organisational actions means that individuals will be directly contributing to the council’s development, ultimately creating a positive place to work, an employer of choice and a more engaged workforce. 

The fact that the feedback is anonymous means that there will be no ability for discrimination based on sex with regards to feedback received. However, though feedback will be anonymous, there will be the ability to identify trends in data analysis; when analysing the cultural state of the organisation, we will be able to determine whether there is a positive or negative response from a particular sex group within the organisation. Where a negative trend is identified, positive actions can be created to address these issues.

Carers

Positive

The engagement platform allows individuals to provide survey response in a more accessible way, whether through work systems in the office, or through personal devices at home. As such, we are moving to a more flexible and agile way of working. Varying breaks for caring responsibilities or amended work patterns may have meant that historically the ability to contribute to engagement activities was limited. However, the system means people would be able to continue to engage in pulse employee surveys to provide feedback and insight into a range of work that they may miss if away from the office due to caring responsibilities. 

Though no real plan is in place at present, the likelihood is that pulse surveys and engagement questions would be issued during ‘normal office hours’ but would be open for a substantial enough period of time for people to respond. Though there are no ‘normal office hours’, in this instance, it means between 9am – 5pm. However, this purely related to the issuing of the survey. Employees would have the opportunity to click on the link and respond to the survey at a time that was convenient for them during the time the survey is live.

Rural isolation

Positive

In the context of this EqIA, rural isolation will relate to employees whose base location is in a disparate area to their service/manager etc. Employees who work in satellite offices around the county, or who don’t necessarily regularly work from one of the ‘main’ council offices (such as Passenger Assistants), often feel isolated from the organisation, or not even a part of it. Their feedback in terms of council progress, engagement levels etc. is crucial to understand the reach of our communications, how effective management are at disseminating information and how people feel a part of the organisation when they aren’t based in the main county towns. 

The system will allow for anyone with either a council network email, or (if provided) a personal email or mobile number, to contribute to council surveys, pulse questions and peer to peer recognition. It will identify where low or high points of engagement are, where recognition is high or low, in places where it may not be centrally understood. Understanding where ‘low’ points are will allow for better workforce planning.

Single parent families

Positive

Similarly to the way the system will benefit carers, the engagement platform allows individuals to provide survey response in a more accessible way, whether through work systems in the office, or through personal devices at home. As such, we are moving to a more flexible and agile way of working. Varying breaks for caring responsibilities or amended work patterns may have meant that historically the ability to contribute to engagement activities was limited. However, the system means people would be able to continue to engage in pulse employee surveys to provide feedback and insight into a range of work that they may miss if away from the office due to caring responsibilities. 

Though no real plan is in place at present, the likelihood is that pulse surveys and engagement questions would be issued during ‘normal office hours’ but would be open for a substantial enough period of time for people to respond.

Poverty (social & economic deprivation)

Positive

In the context of this EqIA, the social deprivation could be treated in the same way as the rural isolation listed above. However, the economic deprivation element may be an impact in terms of completion of surveys. 

Hive is an IT system, that requires completion through either an emailed link, or a link via SMS (text messaging). The SMS and email (if a personal email) will need a smart phone/tablet/device with internet accessibility. Those who may be experiencing high instances of economic deprivation may not have the right equipment and accessibility to properly engage with the system. 

However, Hive’s Customer Success Manager will be able to help identify pockets of the workforce where access may be less simple and discuss options in terms of how to mitigate the impact of non-engagement. Ultimately, Hive do provide a service where paper-based questionnaires can be used, to ensure that those who aren’t able to use the systems for economic deprivation reasons, have the ability to contribute. This would be used as the exception, ensuring all other channels to allow digital access are considered. This would need to be investigated further and will form part of the action plan.

Military families/veterans

Unclear

There is no real way to assess the impact on military families or veterans, in any different way to any other employee of the organisation. 

The system enables individuals to provide anonymous real-time feedback on questions asked by the organisation. Questions are derived with help from the People Scientists at Hive, in conjunction with business intelligence and direction from Organisation Development and Communications within Dorset Council. 

As such, giving employees the ability to provide anonymous feedback that will be promptly turned into measurable organisational actions means that individuals will be directly contributing to the council’s development, ultimately creating a positive place to work, an employer of choice and a more engaged workforce. 

The fact that the feedback is anonymous and as far as is known, there is no way for this category to be a field on the system and is therefore unidentifiable.

Key to impacts

impact type table

Positive

Positive impact on a large proportion of protected characteristic groups / significant positive impact on a small proportion of protect characteristics group

Negative

Disproportionate impact on a large proportion of protected characteristic groups / significant disproportionate impact on a small proportion of protected characteristic groups.

Neutral

No change/ no assessed significant impact of protected characteristic groups

Unclear 

Not enough data/evidence has been collected to make an informed decision.

Action Plan

Action plan table

Issue Action Person(s) responsible Deadline How will it be monitored?

Access for system for breaks from work

For those on family-related absences or long-term sickness, identify a process for data capture to engage in 

David Patrick

Post- implementation (project planned date: February 2021)

Work with IT to build in process

Accessibility action plan

User testing on devices to ensure Hive is accessible for users, or alternative methods to enable use.

David Patrick

By implementation (project planned date: 26 February 2020)

Work with IT to build in accessibility testing

Communications plan

Develop a forward plan for communications: when the baseline questions would be, what pulse surveys would we want to issue and when? Think about timing (school holidays/normal office hours etc.).

Liaising with Communications and Unions to find ways for people without ICT access to have the opportunity to access surveys.

David Patrick/ communications

By implementation (project planned date: 26 February)

Work with Communications to develop a forward plan.

Paper based submission

Understand process for paper-based submissions in exceptional circumstances

David Patrick / Hive

By implementation (project planned date: 26 February 2020)

 N/a

Officers who signed off this EqIA

EQIA agreement table

Role

Name

Date

Officer completing this EqIA

David Patrick

15 May 2020

Equality Lead

Susan Ward-Rice

10 August 2020

Equality & Diversity Action Group Chair

Susan Ward-Rice

10 August 2020

 

Diversity and Inclusion Officer - Dorset Council

Name: Susan Ward-Rice
Email: susan.ward-rice@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk
Tel: 01305 224368
Full contact details

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