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Consultants could hurt staff morale, says Senator

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INTERIMS brought in as senior managers in the public sector need to be aware of the effect they could have on staff morale if they simply demand people follow a UK model, Senator Ian Gorst has said.

Senator Ian Gorst (25386438)

Earlier this year during a Scrutiny hearing Senator Ian Gorst said that he would not have appointed as many short-term temporary employees as Chief Minister John Le Fondré has as the government seeks to reform under chief executive Charlie Parker’s OneGov programme.

The programme has attracted criticism for the prolific use of highly paid consultants and interim workers to implement change.

And Senator Ian Gorst, who is now the External Relations Minister, has said that interims should guide existing employees rather than dictating to them, which can undermine their esteem.

Senator Gorst said that he supported reform of the States, in particular to tackle the ‘silo mentality’ where groups of employees act in their own interests rather than those of the organisation or general public.

And he added that he supported the use of consultants and interims to do this, as long as they were used carefully.

‘Any organisation of 7,000 employees can make savings and efficiencies and do things better for Islanders,’ he said.

‘And organisations of this size with specialist requirements will always need to bring in those from outside the Island to help and support them. We should be proud because we have attracted some incredibly talented and first-class people to support us.’

He added: ‘I am not one who blanketly says that we shouldn’t have consultants and we shouldn’t be attracting those from outside of Jersey. We absolutely should, if we really want to service Islanders well.

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‘But for me it is a question of quantum and not having too many consultants. Yes, having consultants is good in that they can be got rid of if they are not performing.

‘But equally, the other danger you have to be mindful of is that they are here today and gone tomorrow, so are they really bought into the objective of serving Islanders and improving the service?’

Senator Gorst said that he was supportive of Deputy Kirsten Morel’s recent proposition, which was passed by the States, requiring details of interim staff with contracts worth more than £20,000 to be published every six months.

He added, however, that the government also needed to be mindful of the attitude of consultants and interims towards existing staff.

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‘The other thing you have to be very careful with when using consultants, interims or fixed-terms from outside of Jersey is the effect they have on morale,’ he said.

‘My ethos has always been to bring people in to support the people who are here to help make the change – not for them to come in and tell the people who are already here what to do from what they have done elsewhere.

‘Change requires someone to come in and help but it is the ethos behind bringing those people in and how that’s delivered that is important.’

The minister would not comment on whether staff morale had already been damaged by interims and consultants who have been appointed under the change programme.

‘We are still early in this process so I’m not here to pass judgment in that regard,’ he said.

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
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