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People Strategy 2024 - 2027


The People Strategy helps support our managers and staff to respond to the changing and challenging environment in which the Council is operating, most notably future savings requirements and recruitment and retention challenges. 

We are committed to the development of our workforce and continue to embed our People Strategy into our culture. 

As an employer, we are absolutely committed to helping you thrive.

Becky Shaw, Chief Executive

Hybrid working has transformed how some of our teams are working and demands different skills and approaches from managers and clear agreements between team members.

The digital agenda continues to be key in how we deliver services and work in a more agile way. Workforce development, staff wellbeing and inclusion, and effective leadership and management are critical.

Our success will depend on managers and staff being able to deliver good quality services that are responsive to the context of ever increasing need and the diversity of our service users within challenging financial constraints. This continues to require resilience, flexibility, and an ability to work effectively with ambiguity. In order to ensure efficiency we also require compliance with agreed processes.

This strategy has been developed based on:

  • Ongoing evaluation of existing initiatives.
  • Seeking direct feedback from staff and managers and engagement with a range of staff forums.
  • Research and understanding of current and future workforce issues and trends. 

Our Strategic Priorities

The Council Plan sets out our ambitions and what we plan to achieve in the coming years for our four overarching priority outcomes:

  • driving sustainable economic growth;
  • keeping vulnerable people safe;
  • helping people help themselves;
  • and making best use of resources now and for the future.

Making best use of resources is the gateway priority through which any activity and accompanying resources must pass. In practice this means:

  1. Working as One Council, both through the processes we use and how we work across services.
  2. Working in partnership across the public, voluntary community, and private sectors to ensure that all available resources are used to deliver maximum benefits to local people.
  3. Ensuring we achieve value for money in the services we commission and provide. Maximising the funding available through bidding for funding and lobbying for the best deal for East Sussex.
  4. Helping to tackle Climate Change so that East Sussex County Council activities are as carbon neutral as soon as possible and in any event by 2050.
  5. Applying strategic commissioning to ensure that resources are directed to meet local need.

Our Equality Objectives

The Council recognises the diverse needs of our communities and is committed to promoting equality of opportunity and diversity in employment and service delivery.  We challenge discrimination and encourage respect, understanding and dignity for everyone living, working and visiting East Sussex. 

To drive this forward, the Council sets two annual equality objectives whose implementation is supported by an annual Equality Action Plan

We will challenge discrimination and encourage respect, understanding and dignity for everyone living in, working in and visiting East Sussex.

ESCC Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Commitment

The East Sussex Way

How we do things is just as important as what we do. The “East Sussex Way” sets out the five key behaviours that have been jointly developed with staff that describe our approach.

We are customer driven

We put our customers at the centre of our decision making. We listen to our customers so we can understand their concerns and needs, and we ask questions to establish a common ground and build a shared commitment. We balance their needs with the resources available. 

We deliver a great service

To deliver a great service we understand the resources available to us and challenge ourselves and others to do the best we can with what we have.  We remain focused on delivering results and challenge others when they're not delivering at the standard we expect. We are clear about how the outcome will be valuable to the customer.  

We take responsibility

We deliver what our customers want in the time they need it. We are empowered to make decisions, confident that our knowledge underpins our instinct. We hold ourselves accountable and make sure we find solutions to problems, seeking support from others when we need it. We set clear and realistic timescales and stay focused on delivering our commitments.  

We work together as One Council

We proactively seek opportunities to deliver a seamless service to our customers. We build relationships and think about other colleagues who can contribute to the outcome. We understand the challenges and contributions of other departments. We proactively seek opportunities to work in partnership with other areas and improve efficiency.   

We find better ways of doing things

We are always striving to improve the way we deliver services for our customers. We create an innovative environment by promoting curiosity and accepting uncertainty. We recognise the impact that small day to day improvements can have and maintain a critical view that will facilitate these improvements. We develop our skills and share our learning with a diverse group of people.  

Developing the Workforce

The People Strategy identifies the interventions that are planned to support the development of the future workforce to deliver the Council’s priorities. It identifies four key themes that will help us to shape our workforce over the next three years. These are:

In order to deliver high-quality, cost-efficient services to our local residents we must continue to seek out new ways of operating, and therefore we will:

  • Seek opportunities to improve the way things are done and be flexible and responsive to diverse needs. This will require everyone to be open to working in ways that are more efficient, to work with people's strengths and tackle barriers.
  • Enhance professional excellence, ensuring staff have up to date expertise and the skills needed to undertake our duties to a professional level.
  • Add value by doing our job well every day and following the Council’s processes, practices, procedures and systems. As managers we will effectively lead and manage teams.
  • Use new technology, where appropriate, to deliver more efficient and cost-effective ways of doing things.

Much of the activity highlighted in this document is cross-council however each department will have additional activity, specific to their department, under each of the four key themes. There is a commitment that the departments learn from each other’s activity where there is broader application.

The Four Key Themes

Employee Health and Wellbeing

Our Commitments People Strategy Webpage Wellbeing

In the challenging context that we are operating, it is critical that we support the resilience and wellbeing of our staff. On a national level, the CIPD have reported the highest rate in absence seen in 10 years; two days greater per year than the pre pandemic record, with stress being the most significant factor. This increase has been attributed to the cost-of-living crisis and more people reporting feeling overwhelmed. Our absence statistics are reflective of this and whilst we do have an established and comprehensive programme of emotional wellbeing support for staff, we are keen to gain further insight into what has worked well and what could be improved. We are planning to undertake a council-wide review to measure this.  We continue to develop our wellbeing offer to respond to the needs of our workforce by:

  • Working closely with our health providers and guided by Public Health, we gain insight into our trends to plan targeted interventions such as health related workshops for employees and bespoke training and guidance for managers.
  • Implementing activity to support the Wellbeing Charter.
  • Planning bespoke financial support webinars focusing on particular topics, such as housing.
  • Reviewing our mental health offer across the Council, including learning from the findings of the Violence, Harassment and Discrimination (VHD) project engagement with staff. 
  • Proactively supporting staff and promoting wellbeing through our growing Mental Health First Aid network.
  • Embedding our new approach to workplace adjustments that includes expertise on neurodiversity and a focus on strengths.


We continue to use our health metrics to indicate which areas require intervention, one example of this is the musculoskeletal project within Adult Social Care. This work has been undertaken in a new partnership with Brighton University and the recommendations will be formed as a direct result of employee survey responses and focus groups. The project will be monitored and evaluated to understand what has worked well and how we can use the findings to support our staff in other departments.

Investing in the Musculoskeletal (MSK) health and physical capacity of our workforce will enable employees to have full working lives. In collaboration with our workforce, and the University of Brighton we will achieve this by delivering interventions based on feedback from our employees.

MSK Project Team

Employee Engagement and Inclusion

Our Commitments People Strategy Webpage Engagement

To positively address the challenges ahead we will need to encourage employees to actively participate in decision making. Employee forums will be used where possible and wider views will be gained through focus groups and pulse surveys. This will be underpinned by open and honest feedback between managers and staff and will include communication of the rationale for change and on-going communication throughout change processes.

We will continue to develop our engagement and inclusion offer to respond to the needs of our workforce by: 

  • Working closely with our trade union colleagues and staff networks to understand key issues to help inform inclusive decision making. 
  • Using focus groups and pulse surveys to listen and respond to organisational need as appropriate. 
  • Actively involving employees in shaping change and employing communication strategies that ensure we continually feedback on the impact that they have made.
  • Ensuring all teams review their team agreements every 6-12 months.

The workplace actions from the Corporate Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan will continue to be a priority to tackle discrimination and harassment and develop a culture and environment where everyone feels valued, included and respected.


Currently only 4 percent of staff across the organisation are under the age of 25 and we want to attract more talent in this age group to work with us, to help us innovate and deliver services for the future. As well as the work we are doing to support our older workforce, we will engage with our existing young workers to identify ways we can attract, develop and retain more under 25 year olds.   

Being an Apprentice for ESCC has not only enriched my professional growth, but has also provided me with a platform to engage and collaborate with colleagues in different departments, creating a supportive and varied network within the organisation that I can draw upon in my day to day role.

Victoria Parris, Social Media and Communications Officer, Children's Services

Performance and Development

Our Commitments People Strategy Webpage Performance

Our staff are central to the success of the Council in the delivery of high-quality services. We need people to take responsibility for providing the best possible services within the resources available. More than ever, we need diverse and skilled people to work with us to meet the needs of the people of East Sussex.

We will build on our successful "Choose East Sussex" recruitment campaign to understand more about what attracts people to join the council and encourages them to stay.

We will also ensure managers can access key workforce data, including workforce equality data, to support evidence-informed decision making around succession planning, development of staff, and creating secondment opportunities.  

There are a wide range of learning and development opportunities for staff to explore for whichever career pathway they choose to follow. Below are some examples of how we are committed to supporting learning: 

  • Staff development opportunities will reflect the needs of our hybrid workforce, hosted through a new Learning Portal, which will integrate classroom and online training. This will be in addition to our comprehensive core suite of e-learning. 
  • A key pillar in our staff development will continue to be the use of Apprenticeships and how they can establish career progression routes through the organisation. 
  • Coaching plays a central role in all aspects of our service delivery and performance development. We will continue to offer coaching skills to all our staff and to build up our internal coaching network to meet the growing demand for coaching. 
  • We will equip our workforce with the digital and personal skills to meet the challenges of managing data, digital automation, and artificial intelligence.
  • We are committed to understanding why staff move on from roles or choose to progress their career outside the Council, and so a new Exit Interview process is being piloted across the Council. 


Our workforce has adapted post-Covid, with many staff now working remotely. It is critical that there is clarity on objectives and the performance expectations of staff, so our managers are able to manage by outcomes and build trust across their teams. As part of this, the Performance and Supervision processes play a crucial role in ensuring that managers and staff communicate and identify individual development needs in a meaningful way. To support managers we will ensure that there are development opportunities that enable them to get the best from their staff and manage performance effectively.

By having clear, measurable outputs that link to our annual team plan, service strategy and Council Plan, individuals can understand how their work links to the wider service and corporate priorities.

Managers work with their teams regularly to discuss progress and identify training needs to support individual development throughout the year. This approach has created a culture of trust, respect, and accountability to deliver high-quality outcomes for our customers.

Samantha McManus, Team Manager, Library and Information Service

Leadership and Management

Our Commitments People Strategy Webpage Leadership

The challenges facing our leaders and managers are considerable and have evolved over recent years. Responsible for maintaining and improving services, particularly to the most vulnerable in our community, they lead and manage our remote and front line teams, supporting the wellbeing and resilience of their staff.

In this context, we are committed to developing and supporting our leaders and managers in a way that is responsive to the changing landscape they are working within. We will review how we provide the right developmental support to our managers in a timely and effective way, to ensure they are able to have the best possible impact. Measures will include seeking staff feedback, and external measures such as the outcome of inspection reviews around leadership. We will prioritise our drive towards compassionate and inclusive leadership and a continued commitment to the use and promotion of the Leadership and Management Capability Framework to provide a structure for development.

We recognise that managers and leaders are working in a very challenging context and we will focus on supporting them across the whole of their responsibilities including the management of resources/ demand and the management of hybrid working.

Recruitment is a key challenge across the Council and we will support leaders with succession planning and talent development so we are able to meet the future demand of our services.

Some other key areas of focus to develop our leaders in the future include: 

  • Building on our successful Ladder to Leadership development programmes by creating a clear pathway for all leaders to enhance their skills according to their needs, through training, mentoring and coaching.
  • Masterclasses for our strategic leaders on a wide range of topics to ensure they are equipped with the knowledge and skills to innovatively meet the changing needs of their service areas.  
  • Executive coaching which is available through our wide network of coaches and the opportunity for all our leaders to be matched with a mentor to help them develop specific skills they may need to progress their career. 


We want to give all our leaders the opportunity to progress their career and access to the wide range of roles across the organisation. To help them build their leadership skills we encourage them to assess their skills and behaviours using 360 feedback against the Leadership Capability Framework. This helps individuals to identify the areas they need to develop in order to progress. 

Taking this approach in our Ladder to Leadership programme has enabled many of the past candidates to secure promotions in areas they may not have previously considered.  

I am really grateful to the Ladder to Leadership programme for helping me understand my strengths and areas for development, which meant that the training was tailored to my needs. It helped me identify the types of roles I wanted to progress to, while my mentor supported me in developing better interview skills. As a result, I have been successful in moving to my first management role in an area I am really excited about.

Emma Waring, Project Manager, Equality and Participation

How Will We Measure Progress?

This strategy will be successful when we have delivered against the four key themes. For each theme we have identified the next set of deliverables which will be measured to determine how successful we have been. The measures used will vary from theme to theme and may change as different elements of the work are delivered.

Monitoring & Progress Reporting

We will review this strategy annually to ensure continued alignment to the corporate priorities. As part of this review we will look at the four key themes and assess the impact of what has been delivered at that point.