WIGAN Council workers have been told to stop being moaning vampires and become happy cheerleaders in a bid to boost morale.
As a way of getting the most out of workers, the chief executive Donna Hall has created a new motivational message by categorising staff into vampires, sleepwalkers or cheerleaders.
The vampires are actively disengaged and unhappy at work, busy acting out their misery and undermining what their engaged co-workers accomplish; sleepwalkers are not engaged and sleepwalking through their work day, putting time – but not energy or passion into their work; and cheerleaders work with a passion and feel a connection to their organisation, moving the organisation forward.
And while the classifications were taken from a self-help book, aimed at encouraging unity, some staff members have raised concerns, stating they fear voicing their opinion as they would be tarnished as vampires and told to seek employment elsewhere.
A spokesman for Unison said that during a recent meeting, the consensus was that the categorisation was “unacceptable”.
Stephanie Thomas, Unison North West regional manager said: “Members have raised concerns with us about senior managers using derogatory categorisation of council staff and for suggesting that those deemed to have insufficiently enthusiastic attitudes should seek a job elsewhere.
The terminology of ‘vampires’ and ‘cheerleaders’ has no useful part to play in efforts to run quality public services in the borough. Staff are very dedicated and work hard to deliver for the public – and staff are offended and upset by the use of these labelsStephanie Thomas
“The terminology of ‘vampires’ and ‘cheerleaders’ has no useful part to play in efforts to run quality public services in the borough. Staff are very dedicated and work hard to deliver for the public – and staff are offended and upset by the use of these labels.
“It is very serious that council staff are telling us that they are so worried about being deemed to have a negative attitude. This could deter them from raising legitimate concerns about the quality of services or even the safety of the public.
“Unison has written to Donna Hall to seek urgent confirmation that staff will be encouraged to speak up without fear of management reprisals or rebuke.”
But Ms Hall said that a recent staff survey revealed high satisfaction with their employer and the aim was to engage workers and boost positivity.
Ms Hall said: “One of the reasons we are now the best big council to work for in the UK is because most staff like our approach to tackling problem behaviour at work from a few individuals.
“In a team of 4,000 you are bound to get a few people who don’t have a sufficiently customer-focused attitude.
“Residents pay their council tax in the expectation that they will receive first-class services from friendly, polite and helpful staff. If staff don’t live up to these standards we have to deal with it.
“The feedback we have received from staff to this approach has been overwhelmingly positive. We make it clear that scepticism is healthy but cynicism is not. We want staff to constructively challenge and question constantly but not to just moan and groan for the sake of it.
“We have also seen sickness levels (a strong indicator of morale) come down by two days per person per year saving council tax payers hundreds of thousands every year.”