Bath and North Somerset Council

Empowering people to find powerful solutions in the face of budget and resource cuts


Bath and North East Somerset Council is a local government authority, employing over 5000 people in the Somerset area.

Local Government continues to be challenged by ever decreasing funding from Central Government. This calls for councils to continually rethink how they deliver their ambitions with fewer resources. In August 2012, the Chief Executive set out to create a new organisation, one adaptable to the changing shape of public service delivery. Key to this was engaging employees in conversations about the future and how they wanted the organisation to transform going forward.

Employee engagement events

Through a series of employee engagement events, people identified some of the desired characteristics of the future organisation:

  • Everyone knowing where the organisation is heading
  • People empowered to be creative and involved in shaping the future
  • Collaborative leadership, with managers acting as un-blockers vs. gatekeepers
  • A motivated workforce with modern working practices
  • Having ‘One Conversation’ with communities and customers alike


The idea behind 10 in 100 is that people in organisations already have brilliant project ideas to deliver savings and value, they just need the empowerment and skills to make them happen. The 10 in 100 initiative delivers 10 projects in 100 days. The projects are selected from a pool of idea submissions for tangible improvements to service delivery. The chosen 10 teams are supported through a project development and training programme, a ‘Dragon’ sponsor and an assigned coach. Every idea is followed up to see if they can still be progressed outside of the scheme. Every idea is acknowledged.

Achieve Breakthrough designed the initiative and delivered the development programme. Teams translated their ideas into real project plans – with focused outcomes and clear scope. Many involved were not typically given development at this level so learning the Breakthrough approach enabled them to delivery results whilst building their confidence and skills.

The ‘Dragon’ provided sponsorship support and helped to unblock issues. This included accessing networks and key stakeholders, fast-tracking action and attracting additional support. Throughout the 100 days the teams were supported with coaching and mentoring from the project coaches, their ‘Dragon’ and also the Occupational Development team.

This programme has a rigorous structure with a midway check-in and completion session. After the first 50 days progress is reviewed at a group event hosted by the Chief Executive – celebrating success, sharing next steps and adding impetus to overcome set-backs. Finally, a celebration event marks the end of the 100 days with the teams, and key stakeholders from the organisation and community. This acknowledges the impact of the projects and the difference the staff have made through implementing their ideas.


The ‘10 in 100’ initiative has had a major impact, not only on the organisation’s level of employee engagement, but also the capability of those involved. Importantly, through this approach they continue to address the challenges faced by the council. In terms of council objectives, this includes:

  • Promoting independence and positive lives for everyone – e.g. 5 schools signed up to a pilot volunteer reading scheme and 2 supermarkets signed up to a support service for the elderly and vulnerable as part of the projects delivered
  • Meeting the financial challenge – e.g. delivering £200k in savings/income through the registrar service. Also, potentially £120k pa saving for an internal pool of clerical staff.
  • Improving how we work as #onecouncil – e.g. having ‘big conversations’ across the council and the community. In addition, many of the team members where from different backgrounds – council officers, volunteers, service users, so they captured many perspectives and this was an innovative approach in the current circumstances.

There has been a marked increase in many of the employee engagement measures, including how highly the following were rated in the staff survey:

  • Recommending the Council as good employer
  • The job I do is considered important – 20% increase
  • Proud to work for the council
  • The council is an ambitious organisation
  • Level of morale – a 70% increase to 56%

23% of the 198 ideas submitted were from non-office based staff, which indicates how the initiative has captured the imagination of the whole organisation. Those involved were left more confident; with the ability to take an idea, create a robust plan and deliver it. The 100-day time frame drove motivation and resilience – challenging the project teams to overcome obstacles and constantly engage others to help support and deliver their ideas.
Bath and North-East Somerset council were highly commended for their ‘Employee Engagement Project of the Year’ award submission. The Awards recognize and celebrate the people-companies who remake the way organisations think about and engage people to achieve their purpose.