When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the City found itself in an unprecedented position.
With approximately 550 employees, the City looks after 66,000 residents and local businesses, and provides a range of essential local government services including waste management and road maintenance, as well as playgrounds, community centres, libraries and recreation facilities – all of which keep the local community active and engaged.
The forced closure of City facilities as a result of COVID-19 left a significant number of staff unable to do their jobs; and a community without services they relied on for support and socialisation.
Acting early and with a clear intention, the City generated a COVID response that not only had the best interest of the community at heart, but that of the City’s staff – the two working together to ensure the City emerged from the crisis in a strong position, with a connected community and a cohesive workforce.
Fundamental to this was the Redeployment Program, which enabled the City to quickly adapt and offer new services for the community.
Redeploying staff was the basis of a significant proportion of the City’s COVID response as it enabled service provision to meet the changing circumstances and protected the livelihoods of the City’s employees. This saw the expansion of services to include:
• Community Care team – redeployed staff made 6,000 calls and spent 800 hours on the phone during the restrictions, checking in with approximately 1000 older community members.
• Town Centre Blitz team – redeployed staff carried out extra cleaning and maintenance to make the City’s town centres more appealing so when restrictions began to lift, local businesses got a much-needed boost as people returned to the revamped town centres.
• Library Outreach Program – nearly 800 library members aged over 70 were contacted and offered a book selection and home delivery service.
• Support for St Vincent de Paul – this partnership saw the City support approximately 250 families during the height of the COVID lockdown and ensuing restrictions.
• Internal support for branches under pressure.
By increasing internal communications, keeping the workforce informed and making it clear from the outset that job security was a priority, the organisation was able to remove some of the uncertainty individuals were feeling during this incredibly tumultuous time.
The City’s response helped maintain staff morale, strengthen the connection between teams and the divisions, and ensured the organisation was able to support the community during a time of increased need.
The City’s approach to change management in incredibly difficult circumstances has solidified the organisation’s reputation with staff and the community.