Star Awards

Is it really a week since the wonderful evening at the Beach Ballroom when we celebrated all our fantastic 2017 Star Awards winners?

Happily, there’s still time to once again recognise the incredible achievements of all the awardees:

  • Angus Beacom – Rising Star
  • Children’s Social Work, Reception Team – Team of the Year
  • Jean Stewart-Coxon – Improving Staff Experience
  • Ross Allan – Improving Customer Experience
  • Seaton Park Team – Collaboration
  • Countryside Rangers – Use of Resources
  • Mike Chalmers – People’s Champion
  • Gilbert Road Children’s Home – Innovation
  • John Anderson – Shining Star

A heartfelt well done to all!  It’s now only 51 weeks to the presentation of the 2018 Awards, let’s all keep out eyes open to the work that goes on around us and be ready to nominate once the call goes out.

As I said last Thursday evening – let’s all commit that before this time next week we’ve all at least once said thank you for a Council service received and at least once expressed our appreciation to a Council colleague for the work they’ve done. Let’s be that organisation!  

If you were there last week I really hope that you’ve been able to do this and you can make a weekly habit of it.  If you weren’t at the Beach Ballroom, no worries the invitation to commit is open to all!

Food Bank Appeal

You may have noticed that the Food Banks Partnership Aberdeen crates are once again available to receive donations.

There is currently an urgent need to replenish stocks and I wanted once again to take the opportunity to invite you to support this drive.  Colleagues have been incredibly generous in the past and I hope that once again we will be able to provide the Partnership with greatly needed supplies.

Thank you in advance.

Step Up, Step Out

There’s a final call today (Wednesday 26th April) for entrants for this year’s Step Challenge!

A Council-wide event hosted by Corporate Governance and the Office of Chief Executive, the Step Challenge begins on the Bank Holiday Monday, 1st May and steps all the way to Sunday 4th June.

This period covers a range of running and walking events across Aberdeen; including the Baker Hughes 10k, Hazlehead Park: Colour Me Rad 5k & on the final day of this event the Aberdeen Kiltwalk takes place.

Last year the challenge saw 168 Steppers raise over £680 for charity (split between Kayleigh’s Wee Stars & Charlie House)

There’s a £5 donation from everyone that signs up and the winning team, both the team with the most steps overall & also most improved will split the total prize pot and be able to donate the whole amount to a charity of their choice.

For more information and to sign up find the link on the Zone, the deadline for signing up is 5.00 pm on Wednesday 26th April with teams to be announced on 27th April.

I’m one of the 144 who have signed up so far, join me.


Employee Opinion Survey

A quick reminder that the first of a series of drop-in sessions looking at next steps following the results of last year’s Employee Opinion Survey takes place at Marischal College this morning.

Over and above the action plans being developed for each service, four members of ECMT have been working on proposals to address Council-wide common themes that emerged from the Survey.  The drop-in sessions offer an opportunity to hear about these suggestions and to give feedback on them.

Today’s event takes place between 10.00 and 12.00 in Room 2-W-01 at Marischal.

The three further sessions take place as follows:

Tuesday 4th April, 10.00 to 12.00 – Frederick Street, Room 5

Thursday 6th April, 1.00 to 4.00 – Kittybrewster

Wednesday 19th April, 7.30 to 9.00 – Tullos Training Room

There’s no need to book, just drop-in to whatever session best suits you.







Recent visits

Two fascinating and very different visits to Council teams over the past few weeks.

A big thank you to Andy Mearns for giving me an opportunity to see the in-cab technology we have installed in our refuse lorries in action. I know its early days, but I was really struck by the potential there might be to use it in support of improving internal communications with teams out an about across the City.

Another day, another visit, another team using technology.  It was excellent recently to visit the Council’s Creative Learning team based at Rosemount Learning Centre, what an incredible and inspirational range of activity is generated there.  Again, I was struck by the use being made of technology, in this case the team’s Youth Arts Advice website

I’m always interested in visiting teams across the Council and throughout the City to find out more about the services we’re delivering.  Do get in touch if you and your colleagues would like me to drop in.


Star Awards 2017

A quick note to remind you that the deadline for nominations for the above is rapidly approaching with a just a week to go.

Take a look at the Star Awards Categories page on the Zone and think about individuals or teams who you consider deserve our recognition for the work they’ve done in the past year.  Then make sure your nomination is in by 8th March.

The Star Awards are one of the main opportunities we have to together celebrate the fantastic work that goes on across the Council throughout the year, let’s make the judges lives difficult by giving them even more great examples to choose between.

Star Awards 2017

Nominations for the 2017 Star Awards will open on 6 February and I write to encourage everyone to put forward the name of anyone you think deserves an award for the work they do at the Council.

This year sees the introduction of a number of new award categories: Improving Customer Experience; Improving Staff Experience and Improving Use of Resources.  You might recognise these themes…

Award nominations are also sought for great examples of Collaboration and Innovation.  We’ll also find our Shining Star and our Rising Star and a People’s Champion – an unsung hero who deserves recognition. The People’s Champion category is nominated by members of the public, and it’s always great to hear how colleagues go the extra mile for the people of Aberdeen.

This year we’re also looking for nominations for Team of the Year – this is a chance to nominate your team or a team you work with for their outstanding contribution to the work of the Council.

There’s more information about the categories and how to nominate on the Star Awards page on The Zone.

Nominations close on 8 March.  Make this the year that you take the chance recognise the Stars!

Employee Opinion Survey 2016

The report setting out the results of the Employee Opinion Survey we undertook in the autumn last year has now been published and is available through a link on the Zone.

I’m really pleased to see so many more staff completing the survey compared to 2014 – we more than doubled our response rate.

I’m also particularly delighted with the engagement score which shows a significant overall increase from 42% to 49% in the level of staff feeling engaged in the organisation. Whilst a movement from 42% to 49% might not seem a huge remember, of course it’s 49% of the much larger number of staff who replied to the survey this time round.

While we should celebrate the successes set out in the report, at the same time we need to be mindful that there is still work to be done.  Senior managers have met to discuss some of the corporate actions we intend to take and I’ll keep you updated as they develop.  But let’s be honest, all of us have an important role to play in building on the areas where we’re doing well and addressing those which require action.  Together we all work for the Council and together we all have an interest in making it an even better place to work.

You’ll have your own ideas of how we can improve the way we do things and I strongly encourage you to make sure your suggestions are heard.  You can either do this through your line manager or directly onto the Ideas Hub.  Once all the feedback received has been collated you’ll have the opportunity to confirm the proposed actions before they are implemented.

I look forward to working with staff, managers and Trades Unions in continuing to develop a culture which ensures we are best placed to meet the strategic objectives of the Council in serving the people of Aberdeen.

Future blogs will highlight the work that’s going on in relation to the Council’s strategic plan, in the meantime I urge you to read the survey report and provide your feedback on it.

Never underestimate the power of a volunteer

I recently found out that 1 in 3 members of the Council’s staff volunteer their time to a cause or a charity they share a personal connection with.  That’s a considerable force within our city with a strong desire to make a difference.  Volunteering has been important to me since my student days and while my current job takes up so much of my time that it can be tricky to find any spare to volunteer I continue to do what I can.  I fully appreciate that we all have busy lives with both work and family commitments, but I will always encourage and support colleagues to seek out personal and professional volunteer opportunities that stretch them in areas that they would not normally venture into.

Volunteering often offers opportunities to discover new, alternative solutions to some of the daily challenges we face giving a fresh perspective and new means by which to achieve our goals.  Volunteering encourages collaboration and idea-sharing.  I’m very keen to work with staff across the Council to enhance the value we place on volunteering and to embed it as a means of strengthening the core values of the Council.

As a Council, we must always work hard to earn and protect our role as a trusted partner in the community we serve.  The Council’s core values reinforce the values instilled in us at an early age and guide us away from a narrow focus on personal gain, and to a concern with the well-being of the people with whom we work.  This work takes dogged perseverance and a willingness to go the extra mile in order to make a lasting difference to people’s lives.  As with the Council, so with volunteering – find a cause you care about and connect yourself to it.  Go where others won’t go.  Donate to charities and volunteer your time no matter how little you can afford to give of either and get connected to something bigger than yourself.  Volunteering will give you access to the very people who have been waiting for you to show up and do what no one else but you can do.  Your time and support will never be wasted.

Meantime, you’ll remember I wrote in a previous blog about Megan McKinnon at our West Tullos Road Depot who spoke up for those who suffer in silence because they may not know how to talk about what they’re going through, or who they can turn to for help.  She believes that as an organisation, we can help to improve the quality of life for people affected by Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), both patients and their families.  For Megan and others like her, Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are often viewed as ‘invisible illnesses’.

Crohn’s and Colitis UK was set up to help find a cure for people who have Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis and aims to be an equal partnership of patients, families and health professionals.  Their mission is to give a voice to everyone affected by those conditions and to see a world in which no one is limited by Crohn’s and Colitis.

As 2016 draws to a close, I invite everyone to support a worthy cause by giving a One Team donation to Crohn’s & Colitis UK.  Find the link on the Zone and ensure you make your donation by January 13th, 2017.

Giving as one

Many will remember that in 2014 Council staff raised an amazing £9,340.00 to support the ARCHIE Foundation and Whale and Dolphin Conservation, at the same time becoming the proud owners of Lottie the Dolphin.

This year, instead of giving Christmas cards to colleagues, staff participated in our Christmas Charity Challenge by volunteering to give a One Team donation to a worthy cause.  They were also asked to nominate a charity of their choice to receive that donation.  More than 20 charitable organisations were nominated, helping to put the spotlight on the fantastic work these organisations continue to do to support the people and communities that depend on their services.

On December 1st, it was announced that Crohn’s and Colitis UK are this year’s Christmas Charity of Choice as voted for by staff to receive our One Team donation.

In her own words team member, Megan McKinnon at our West Tullos Road Depot, spoke up for those who suffer in silence because they may not know how to talk about what they’re going through, or who they can turn to for help.  She believes that as an organisation, we can help to improve the quality of life for people affected by Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), both patients and their families – and her peers voted that we take a closer look at this charity as the recipient of our giving.  For Megan and others like her, Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are often viewed as ‘invisible illnesses’ and the contribution we can make will help improve the quality of life for people affected by Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Coincidentally, Crohn’s and Colitis UK launched their Awareness Week on December 1st which provided an excellent way for our staff to join workplaces, schools, clubs and individuals across the UK in supporting Purple Friday on December 2nd and wear purple.  The response was amazing!

Over the 2016 Christmas season and into the New Year, you can help support our One Team donation to Crohn’s & Colitis UK, by going onto the Zone and making a donation by January 13, 2017.