Skip to content
Promoting improvements
in policing and fire & rescue
services to make everyone safer

Nottinghamshire 2021/22

People

How well does the fire and rescue service look after its people?

Last updated 27/07/2022
Good

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service is good at looking after its people.

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service required improvement in its 2018/19 assessment.

We were pleased to find that the service’s values and behaviours were understood and demonstrated by staff at all levels. During the inspection, we were told the senior leaders modelled the service values. We also found the service was working to implement the core code of ethics.

We found the service had a robust workforce plan, which included training needs and leaver profiles. By working to this, the service can assure itself it maintains oversight of skills gaps and potential staffing shortfalls.

The service recruitment processes were found to be open and fair, with a diverse selection panel to support individuals applying, and for the workforce to be representative of the demographic of Nottinghamshire. The service has also implemented staff network groups to support those already in post.

All staff we spoke to during the inspection process had a conversation or performance review with their line manager at least once a year. We also found the service had provided learning to help staff understand how their individual objectives link to service objectives.

Overall, we were pleased to see the service improving in all areas of people.

Questions for People

1

How well does the FRS promote its values and culture?

Good

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service is good at promoting the right values and culture.

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service required improvement in its 2018/19 assessment.

Fire and rescue services should have positive and inclusive cultures, modelled by the behaviours of their senior leaders. Health and safety should be promoted effectively, and staff should have access to a range of wellbeing support that can be tailored to their individual needs.

Areas for improvement

The service should assure itself that staff understand how to get wellbeing support.

We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the service’s performance in this area.

Values are demonstrated throughout the organisation

The service has well-defined values that are understood by staff. Behaviours that reflect service values are shown at all levels of the organisation. The service has a new behavioural framework, which has been communicated throughout the organisation. Ninety-eight percent of staff who completed our survey stated they were aware of service values. We heard evidence that staff at all levels of the organisation understood and displayed service values. Staff described a supportive, welcoming and communicative culture. We are encouraged by the cultural improvements the service has made. Work is in hand to implement the new national Core Code of Ethics.

During our inspection, we were told that senior leaders acted as role models and that they consistently demonstrated the service values and had become far more visible and open to communication. The staff survey results showed that 79 percent (215 of 273) of respondents agreed or tended to agree that senior leaders consistently modelled and maintained service values.

There is a positive working culture throughout the service, with staff engaged in decisions that affect them. We found engagement was maintained among staff, with managers keeping everyone informed of strategic direction and areas such as positive action. Staff also told us two-way discussions were encouraged. Ninety‑four percent (256 of 273) of staff survey respondents agreed or tended to agree that they felt colleagues consistently modelled and maintained service values.

Wellbeing support processes aren’t always applied consistently

The service has some wellbeing provisions in place to support the mental and physical health of staff. This includes:

  • a detailed wellbeing plan, which was identified as an area for improvement in our round one inspection;
  • access to the employee assistance programme; and
  • in-service occupational health support, which includes access for physical fitness support.

The service could do more to engage with its workforce and understand what else staff require to support their individual needs. In our staff survey, 96 percent of respondents (267 of 278) agreed or tended to agree that they were able to access services to support their mental wellbeing.

However, during our inspection we found that staff had limited knowledge of the wellbeing strategy and the activity it drives. Staff also told us the process for support following traumatic incidents wasn’t always consistently applied for operational and control staff. While speaking to staff, we heard examples where they felt post-incident welfare support hadn’t been given promptly. As a result, staff have limited confidence in the processes available.

The service has effective health and safety policies

The service has effective and well-understood health and safety policies and procedures in place. It has ways to ensure that staff understand health and safety policies and processes. These include performance reporting, station audit reports and training input. The service also produces a bi-monthly operational assurance bulletin via the service-learning system, which is mandatory for completion and verified on training records.

These policies and procedures are readily available and effectively promoted to all staff. In our staff survey, 99 percent of respondents (274 of 278) agreed or tended to agree that they understood the policies and procedures the service has to make sure they can work safely. Both staff and representative bodies have confidence in the service’s approach to health and safety.

In our previous inspection, we gave the service an area for improvement that the service should put appropriate mechanisms in place that help closer monitor hours worked by staff on dual contracts. Although the service has ways to monitor this, we found that this process wasn’t widely understood among staff. The service should ensure that it continues to embed these processes and monitor the information to fully understand the hours staff work.

The service should ensure that lone working procedures are reliable, and staff fully understand them.

The service is good at managing absence

As part of our inspection, we reviewed some case files to consider how the service managed and supported staff through absence including sickness, parental and special leave.

We found there were clear processes in place to manage absences for all staff. There is clear guidance for managers, who are confident in the process. Absences are managed well and in accordance with policy.

During our inspection, we found that the service had a good system for recording and monitoring staff absence. And there is good support within the teams to assist managers with absence queries.

Overall, the service has seen a 35.5 percent decrease in staff absences over the 12 months between 2019/20 and 2020/21.

2

How well does the FRS get the right people with the right skills?

Good

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service is good at getting the right people with the right skills.

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service required improvement in its 2018/19 assessment.

Fire and rescue services should have a workforce plan in place that is linked to their integrated risk management plans (IRMPs), sets out their current and future skills requirements and addresses capability gaps. They should supplement this with a culture of continuous improvement that includes appropriate learning and development throughout the service.

We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the service’s performance in this area.

Workforce planning means the service has the required skills and capabilities

The service has good workforce planning in place. This means skills and capabilities align with what is needed to effectively implement the IRMP. The service has a workforce plan that sets out requirements for leavers profiles, promotions and department requirements. The service passes this information to the strategic leadership team, to highlight staffing and skill gaps.

The workforce plan includes retirement, staff turnover and succession planning. The service also includes the requirements of department managers in the workforce plan, which may cover restructures and provides resilience to the organisation. Covering these potential factors means the service maintains good oversight of the organisation’s needs.

Ninety percent of our staff survey respondents (250 of 278) agreed or tended to agree that they could access the training they needed to be effective in their role. The service’s training plans make sure it can maintain competence and capability effectively. For example, during our inspection we spoke to staff from various departments who all told us they had access to training appropriate to their role. We also saw some evidence of staff receiving extra training to develop additional skills beyond those required for their role.

The service monitors staff competence by ensuring all skills training and maintenance are logged on each person’s training system promptly. By keeping the training and competence system up to date the service can monitor and understand staff skills and competence. During our inspection we found the training records were accurate and up to date, and staff were competent in their roles.

We checked more than 100 records for staff training and found 99 percent were accurate and up to date. The service has a training recording system that allows staff to easily create reports. This means service leaders can establish gaps in workforce capabilities and resilience, and can make sound and financially sustainable decisions about current and future needs.

The service has a culture of continuous improvement

A culture of continuous improvement is promoted throughout the service and staff are encouraged to learn and develop. For example, during our inspection we saw evidence of a good learning culture. Operational and support staff told us they were encouraged to access training, including courses, such as the future leaders programme. We were pleased to see that the service had a range of resources. These include internal and external training, and a range of e-learning packages.

3

How well does the FRS ensure fairness and promote diversity?

Good

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service is good at ensuring fairness and promoting diversity.

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service required improvement in its 2018/19 assessment.

Creating a more representative workforce will provide huge benefits for fire and rescue services. This includes greater access to talent and different ways of thinking, and improved understanding of and engagement with their local communities. Each service should make sure equality, diversity and inclusion are firmly understood and demonstrated throughout the organisation. This includes successfully taking steps to remove inequality and making progress to improve fairness, diversity and inclusion at all levels of the service. It should proactively seek and respond to feedback from staff and make sure any action taken is meaningful.

We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the service’s performance in this area.

The service is good at seeking feedback from staff

The service uses an external company to carry out staff surveys and we also heard examples of leaders asking staff for regular feedback. This included areas such as the trial of a new on-call contract where leaders sought the opinions and concerns of staff before making changes.

The actions to address matters raised have been positively received by staff. In our staff survey, 75 percent of respondents (208 of 278) agreed or tended to agree they were confident their ideas or suggestions would be listened to. And 71 percent of respondents (196 of 278) agreed or tended to agree that they were confident in the ways for providing feedback to all levels. Trade unions and staff associations report that the service engages well with them.

Staff have confidence in the grievance processes

Staff have a good understanding of what bullying, harassment and discrimination are, and how they negatively affect colleagues and the organisation.

In this inspection, 7.2 percent (20 out of 278) of staff survey respondents told us they had been subject to bullying or harassment over the past 12 months. Of these staff, only 9 reported it either formally or informally and of the 11 that didn’t report it, more than half stated it was because they felt nothing would happen. A further 20 people, or 7.2 percent, reported feeling discriminated against in the past 12 months.

Most staff survey respondents are confident in the service’s approach to tackling bullying, harassment and discrimination, grievances, and disciplinary matters. The service works with its network groups to support, establish and react to problems. It also trains its managers in identifying and addressing workforce concerns.

During our inspection, staff told us they were confident in reporting problems to line managers and that they would take the appropriate action. We also heard that staff were comfortable challenging colleagues on inappropriate behaviour. The service has made sure all staff are trained and clear on what steps they should take if they encounter inappropriate behaviour and has ensured that staff feel they can approach leaders with issues or concerns.

The service has an open and fair recruitment process

There is an open, fair and honest recruitment process for staff or those wishing to work for the Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service. It has an effective system to understand and remove the risk of disproportionality in recruitment processes.

The service uses a community advisory group, which includes people from ethnic minority backgrounds, to form part of its recruitment panels. Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue uses this group to support candidates and to try to make sure that the panel is representative of the community it serves.

The service has put considerable effort into developing its recruitment processes so they are fair and understood by applicants. The service holds open days at stations to:

  • promote the firefighter role;
  • increase understanding among potential applicants; and
  • work with the community it serves.

The recruitment policies are comprehensive and cover opportunities in all roles. Recruitment opportunities are advertised externally, which has encouraged applicants from diverse backgrounds, including into middle and senior management roles.

The service has increased the positive action it takes to recruit a more diverse workforce. Staff are included in this and provided with training such as equality, diversity and inclusivity training, diversity for managers, trans-awareness and unconscious bias training. The service is improving diversity. For example, it supports events such as Pride. It also seeks the views of those within staff network groups. The workforce is supportive of this. The service knows it needs to do more to increase workforce diversity, especially in middle and senior management. Plans to address this are in place. This includes the service carrying out a gender pay gap audit every three years. It has recognised from this information the need to develop female staff to more senior roles.

The service has improved its approach to equality, diversity and inclusivity

The service has developed several ways to communicate with staff on equality, diversity and inclusion. This includes methods to build all-staff awareness and targeted communication to establish matters that affect different staff groups, including to remove disproportionality.

Our staff survey results showed that 79 percent (219 of 278) of respondents agreed or tended to agree that they felt they were given the same opportunities to develop as other staff in their service.

The service has improved its approach to equality, diversity and inclusion. It is also making sure it can offer the right services to its communities and support staff with protected characteristics. For example, since our last inspection the service has set up women, LGBTQ+ and ethnic minority background staff network groups. The service should ensure it uses these groups to have input on policies or changes that may affect the workforce.

The service has an effective process in place for assessing equality impact and taking action. It could do more to improve organisational learning, by examining the effect of the specific actions taken in response to the impact assessment.

4

How well does the FRS manage performance and develop leaders?

Good

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service is good at managing performance and developing leaders.

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service required improvement in its 2018/19 assessment.

Fire and rescue services should have robust and meaningful performance management arrangements in place for their staff. All staff should be supported to meet their potential, and there should be a focus on developing staff and improving diversity into leadership roles.

We set out our detailed findings below. These are the basis for our judgment of the service’s performance in this area.

Staff receive regular performance reviews

There is a good performance management system in place, which allows the service to effectively develop and assess the individual performance of all staff. For example, the service has provided training to all staff to explain how their individual objectives fit into service objectives and drives the integrated risk management planning process.

During our inspection, we found the service had high completion rates of personal development reviews. It has a process to determine if staff aren’t competent in risk‑critical skills, which also supports them in achieving the required area of competence. Our staff survey showed that 92 percent of respondents had received a personal development review within the past 12 months. All of the staff we spoke to told us they had received training to understand how their individual priorities linked to service priorities. This is also captured within their performance reviews.

Through our staff survey, 96 percent of respondents (267 of 278) reported that they had discussions about their performance with their manager at least once a year. Each staff member has individual goals and objectives, and regular assessments of performance.

Fair processes are in place for promotion

The service has effective succession planning processes in place, which allows it to manage the career pathways of its staff well, including into roles requiring specialist skills.

It has put considerable effort into developing its promotion and progression processes so that they are fair and understood by staff. The service carries out a full review after each process. Plus, the service also sends surveys to candidates to understand any problems, gain feedback and record lessons to be learnt. The promotion and progression policies are comprehensive and cover opportunities in all roles.

Selection processes are managed consistently. During our inspection, we reviewed several processes and found that the service had conducted them consistently and was able to provide rationale for final decisions.

The service was able to establish where appointments had been based on local management needs or individual needs. It could provide rationale for these decisions and was clear in the need to balance organisational needs against personal needs. We found those that were part of the panel had received adequate training and that temporary promotions are used appropriately to fill short-term resourcing gaps.

The service should ensure all staff understand the process for establishing high potential

The service has effective succession planning processes in place, which allows it to support staff to take on leadership roles. There are some talent-management schemes in place to develop leaders and identify high-potential staff.

The service has a promotion gateway process and aspiring leaders programme in place. However, we found some staff still felt there wasn’t a clear process for talent management or identifying high potential. This has resulted in some inconsistency when identifying individuals for progression and undermines staff perception of fairness in the process.

English Cymraeg