The Greater London Authority (GLA) is the office of the Mayor of London (currently Sadiq Khan) and the 25 elected members of the London Assembly. Its role is to deliver the mayor’s priorities for London while supporting the Assembly in their role of holding the mayor to account. It aims to make London as inclusive and thriving a city as possible, looking at everything from infrastructure to health and culture. That means the primary focus of the GLA is on building strong, healthy communities and encouraging quality work, providing the people function with the challenge of being an exemplar of great practice.

Organisation: Greater London Authority (GLA)

Sector: Public sector/governing body

Size: 1,200 people

Connecting with community

In the wake of the pandemic, the GLA has launched a recovery programme for London, comprising nine mission areas, which include good work, mental health, wellbeing and young people. ‘That has really focused [the GLA’s] work and we’ve reshaped our budget and our priorities in response to those missions,’ says Employee Engagement and OD Manager Una Buckley.

Initiatives to support employability are aimed at helping Londoners hardest hit by the pandemic into good work. These include an employers’ toolkit to help companies increase the recruitment, retention and progression of young black men, and the Mayor’s Academies Programme, which provides training and support into work.

From an employer perspective, the GLA is committed to helping people from under-represented groups into work. It has an established apprenticeship programme and five six-month Kickstart placements, with salaries topped up to the London Living Wage, and it runs targeted internship programmes for disabled young people and those from ethnic minority backgrounds. It also runs apprenticeship programmes and is using its apprenticeship levy transfer allowance (25%) to fund apprentices in SMEs.

Earlier this year (2022), the GLA relocated from its historic Tower Bridge location to the Royal Docks, which is a more socio-economically deprived area of London. In planning for the relocation, the GLA made training and employment commitments to local residents, says interim CPO Raj Bhamber. ‘We are committed to working with the local communities to enhance their life chances by offering them opportunities that could make a significant difference to them personally while also contributing to the regeneration of the local area.’

Role of the people profession

The people function in the GLA has the challenge of making sure internal practices align to external campaigns. ‘As an employer we want to lead by example,’ says Buckley. ‘So everything we suggest other employers do, we need to try to implement ourselves.’

‘While this is an exciting proposition, it means that we are asking for even more from the people team, which is, like many others, feeling the effects of the pandemic. We do so by being mindful of the health and wellbeing of our people team,’ says Bhamber. ‘It’s not that the profession doesn’t have the energy and ambition; quite the contrary. However, COVID-19 has had an impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of some team members.’

The people team has an important role to play in supporting the wellbeing of the wider organisation while they strive to deliver such an ambitious agenda. ‘We are focused on manager conversations around wellbeing, because getting that right means people feel supported and are better able to perform,’ says Buckley.

People work for us because they want to do great work for London.

Una Buckley, Employee Engagement and OD Manager, Greater London Authority

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