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About The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales (PSOW)

PSOW  has legal powers to look into complaints about public services and independent care providers in Wales. The Ombudsman also investigates complaints that members of local government bodies have breached their authority’s code of conduct. It employs 60 and is independent of all government bodies.

The introduction of the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Act 2019 generated a bigger caseload for the team.  PSOW therefore needed to engage employees and prepare managers and staff for additional responsibilities and an extended remit. This required new skills and increased organisational efficiencies.


Our remit as Effective HRM

  • We have managed the HR function for PSOW since February 2017
  • This specific project was focussed on improving employee experience and performance to cope with the impact of the introduction of the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Act 2019


Our approach

  • The strategic partnership between Effective HRM and PSOW is based on collaboration; teamwork underpins all that we do, working as one team with one voice.
  • Data, employee consultation and better internal communication were used to inform policy and practice.
  • The results of a staff survey carried out in July 2016 were used as a benchmark for assessing project outcomes with key issues forming the basis for discussion with a dedicated employee group.
  • A series of workshops on the development of values were held with staff to create and communicate the new organisational values. These values were developed and subsequently visibly displayed, e.g. wall posters, coasters as a visual reminder of their importance.
  • A monthly HR surgery with an open door policy for all staff was implemented to encourage early conversation and early action.
  • All staff meetings were organised with Effective HRM to ensure familiarity and understanding of the role of HR.
  • A new wellness strategy was implemented to encourage positive use of occupational health advice and counselling, including self-referral. This helped to overcome the stigma of mental health.


What difference have we made?

  • The results of a follow-up staff survey in 2018 showed a postive improvement, particularly in how the staff felt about the leadership team, communication, professional development and the organisations commitment to health and wellbeing.
  • Future recruitment and people development is informed by the organisational values, processes and policies. This allows visibility and transparency at every stage of the career journey and at every level of the organisation.
  • Over onerous and unnecessarily cumbersome policies and procedures were identified. Staff, management and the trade union were consulted. The policies and procedures have been updated and improved.
  • A bespoke training programme was developed for existing and future managers to ensure understanding of the new HR policies and procedures. A key success to this programme has been identifying internal potential and talent for development. This also served to further embed the values across the organisation.
  • There is now a visible values based approach to the organisation, with an on-site HR presence with an open-door policy, centred on employee wellbeing, personal and professional development.
  • Empowerment of managers has allowed them to have improved confidence in their daily interactions with staff. The improved processes and upskilling of managers has allowed them to be more robust in the implementation of policies whilst remaining supportive and adopting a coaching style of management. They also have the support of Effective HRM as their HR team allowing for early intervention.
  • All employees now understand how an increase in flexible working opportunities can lead to increased performance delivery.


The results

  • Overall fall in sickness absence rates with a downward trend from 2.8% in 2014/15 to a low of 1.2% in 2018/19.
  • No employee grievances since February 2017.
  • Improved policies and procedures plus clear professional development and personnal development plans for all staff, not just management.
  • Staff well-being is now central to the organisational strategy.
  • Improved service delivery capability.


What the client has to say

“With the help of Effective HRM, we have transformed our approach to people management. HR is no longer purely a compliance function. It’s central to our business strategy and we are seeing the results of how taking a more cohesive approach with better communication has a real impact on service delivery. What’s more, our managers know that they have the support of a proactive HR team that really does have our best interests at heart.”

Chris Vinestock, COO and Improvement Manager, PSOW


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