Headlines: October 4th, 2005

Liverpool City Council has won a prestigious award for its imaginative approach to communicating with its staff, including establishing an online system allowing teams to record their own achievements. The authority’s internal communication department took top prize in the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ Local Government Group Excellence Awards.The award recognises a number of improvements made by the council to ensure that staff can give their views on a variety of subjects and influence decisions made by senior managers. The innovations include the ‘Be Proud initiative’ that allows people working for the authority to create a permanent on-line record of their team’s achievements in their own words. This culminates in an annual ‘Be Proud’ awards ceremony.

Liverpool has also established a staff forum so its 7,000 employees who are not trade union members get the same access to information and consultation as those who are represented by a union. At the same time a diversity forum gives an opportunity to employees from racial minority groups, those with disabilities and to lesbian or gay staff to meet and discuss their needs. The council has also introduced The Just Ask! Internal Communications project, offering employees a free fact finding and feedback service that guarantees to come up with information within 24 hours. It has handled an average of more than 700 inquiries each month in the last year.

Changes have also been made to the “Council People Magazine” to change it from being an in-house magazine into a publication that aims to make public service celebrities of staff.

The judges for the awards said the city council had taken the idea of two-way communication to heart and had demonstrated an excellent understanding of internal politics, particularly among hard to reach groups. The council communicated with them enthusiastically, innovatively and with a real commitment to making a difference.

City Council Leader Mike Storey said it was essential that the authority communicated as well with employees as it did with the citizens of Liverpool and the award was a credit to all involved. Sir David Henshaw, the council’s Chief Executive, said building good communication inside the council was an essential part of improving services for the people of the city.