Working to improve Falkirk’s Social Work Services

Results of a snap poll to aid recruitment and retention of social work staff.

Over 100 colleagues have taken part in a snap poll about working within Falkirk’s social work teams, sharing their thoughts to help improve local services and attract new colleagues.

Issued following a series of staff sessions with Falkirk’s Chief Social Work Officer to discuss the impact of current challenges faced by teams, the idea to create the poll came from a member of frontline staff.

The snap survey, conducted week beginning 9th October, set out to gather meaningful information about how to attract job candidates and support staff retention. The survey asked social work staff two simple questions – what attracted them to work for Falkirk, and what will keep them working for Falkirk Council.

Over 70%* of the 120 responses shared positive experiences of working within the Falkirk area and for the local authority, alongside many constructive ideas and thoughts about how to improve the employment offer for new and existing staff.

Key findings:

Attraction to Falkirk:

A wide range of reasons brought colleagues to Falkirk, including the prospect of job satisfaction and security, salary, employment conditions, pension offer, and small team structure. The most common reasons were:

  • Location and community: Working close to home was the most cited reason staff chose to work for Falkirk Council, mentioned by a third of respondents. Many colleagues highlighted convenient commuting times and the opportunity to support their local community as related benefits.
  • Role and career development: Specialised roles which focused on individual’s areas of interest attracted candidates, as well as opportunities for career progression and continuous learning – with a few responses highlighting the new structure as a recent positive change.
  • Team and colleague relationships: Positive relationships with colleagues, being part of a supportive team, and Falkirk’s close-knit small team structure were important to many respondents.

Retention factors:

Demonstrating the current challenges faced across health, social care, and social work, colleagues have provided insightful feedback on the factors which will ensure they continue to choose to develop their career in Falkirk. These include:

  • Competitive employment conditions: Further use of flexible and hybrid working arrangements were commonly requested by staff, as well as the need for permanent contracts and competitive future salary packages.
  • Team spirit: Positively, respondents cited their good team environment and personal relationships with their colleagues as reasons they want to continue working with Falkirk.
  • Stronger leadership: Survey participants were clear that good leadership, action on feedback, and improved communication with staff were vital to improving current working practices.
  • Career Progression: Staff are seeking a choice of progression opportunities, and would value clear routes for promotion, training options, and supervision support in the future.

Welcoming the survey results and thanking staff for their participation, Sara Lacey, Chief Social Work Officer said: “I’m extremely grateful for the practical, constructive, and honest responses of colleagues to this survey. Staff have shown their commitment to local communities within their feedback, and told us how we can better support them to deliver the best possible service to the people of Falkirk.

“There are initiatives underway across all areas which I hope will address some of the feedback, and we will commit to building on this a result of this survey.”

The results of the poll and feedback gathered are to be used by the Social Work Recruitment and Retention Working Group in a variety of ways, and have already been used as part of a recruitment evening held in October to formally launch new roles created by the recent restructure.

Colleagues can continue to share feedback and ideas to help make Falkirk a better place to work by emailing, using the subject line ‘Recruitment and Retention’

Survey data

  • The two question MS Forms Survey, issued via email by the Chief Social Work Officer and promoted via yammer, was open from October 9th-17th 2023. 120 individual responses were received.
  • *Sentiment analysis was conducted using Falkirk Council’s Participate+ engagement platform

Responses word clouds:

Main reasons for choosing Falkirk Council

Word cloud summary of responses. The largest words in the centre (indicating most responses) are working and job. 

Other words in the word cloud include: training and development, work group, opportunities, social work, good area, good reputation, job security, local, community, close to home, work support, work experience, and work specialism

Main reasons to stay with Falkirk Council

Word cloud summary of responses. The largest words in the centre (indicating most responses) are work, opportunity, and management

Other words in the word cloud include: senior management, better management, pay increase, better communication, work environment, flexible working, management team, permanent contract, and supportive management.

Responses in numbers:

Main reasons for choosing Falkirk Council
Main reasons for choosing Falkirk Council No. %
Location: Short commutes, proximity to home, supporting community 39 32.5%
Role: Focused, specialised, roles and structure 17 14%
Conditions: Pay, hybrid working, training, flexibility, pension 16 13%
Career: Restructure, newly qualified programme, 15 12.5%
Local authority: Reputation, job security 9 7.5%
Team: Small close-knit teams, personal relationships 9 7.5%
Other: Attractive job adverts, variety, restructure pledge, better work/life balance, moving from agency contracts, change of scene. 16 13%
Total 120 100%
Main reasons to stay with Falkirk Council
Main reasons to stay with Falkirk Council No. %
Conditions: Flexible working, hybrid working, permanent contracts, pay increases 26 22%
Team: Personal relationships, supportive environment, good colleagues 18 15%
Management: Stronger leadership, action on feedback, improved communication 15 12.5%
Career: Options for promotion, training, choice of progression, supervision 15 12.5%
Reduce pressures: Smaller caseloads, more staff and resources 14 12%
Role: Job satisfaction, permanent contracts, job security 12 10%
Location: Short commutes, proximity to home, supporting community 6 5%
Pension: Approaching retirement age, pension package 5 4%
Expressed intention to leave 5 4%
Restructure: Realising promised benefits of the restructure 2 2%
Other: Unsure 2 2%
Total 120 100%