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Acas Strategy 2016 - 2021: background - developing Acas for the future workplace

Acas Strategy 2016 - 2021 The strategy charts the course that Acas will be taking over the coming five years. It identifies areas of continuity and sets out aspirations for the future.

Acas has a strong foundation upon which to build. This is rooted in its statutory duties, and its reputation for expertise. Acas is Britain's leading organisation for providing impartial and high quality advice and support to employers and employees; and is recognised for the unique insight it has into improving workplaces and working life.

To ensure that our work remains relevant, we continue to respond to changes in the world of work, to listen to all our stakeholders, and to reflect their expectations and needs in the services we offer, and how we deliver them. This strategy identifies how we will develop and innovate during the period 2016 - 2021.

A strong foundation to build on

Acas is building from a position of strength. Each year, Acas has millions of contacts with organisations and individuals. Our services span advice and support on legislative change, through help in building organisational productivity and effectiveness, to providing a world-leading dispute resolution service.

Acas services

  • Publishing statutory Codes of Practice and guidance on a wide range of employment topics read by more than 7 million web visitors a year.
  • Providing impartial advice to employers and employees on workplace problems through a telephone helpline fielding around 900,000 calls annually and an online helpline service which has around 500,000 sessions each year.
  • Training more than 30,000 managers and employers in practical skills and topical issues.
  • Providing conciliation in more than 80,000 individual disputes through its early conciliation service and around 20,000 cases following the submission of a tribunal claim.
  • Providing conciliation in around 900 collective disputes between employers and employee representatives.

Our local labour market knowledge enables us to provide tailored support to our customers. Our use of technology and investment in digitally provided services have all facilitated a significant expansion in our reach, for instance through material provided on our website, e-learning modules, and engagement in social media.

Our design and development of new products and services is informed by horizon scanning, policy analysis and what our customers tell us.

The understanding we gain from our close working with employers and employees, coupled with our research, means that we are able to offer insightful and authoritative commentary. We use this combination of evidence to stimulate and inform debate on a wide range of matters relating to work and working life.

We know from independent evaluation that our work is effective and highly regarded. We also know that our impact goes beyond the immediate customer. The most recent impact assessment demonstrated that for every £1 invested in Acas, £12 is saved for the economy.

Customer feedback

  • 89% of callers to our helpline agreed that the information they were provided with was valuable whilst 87% agreed that the adviser they spoke to answered their query in full.
  • 96% of helpline callers said they would recommend the helpline service to a friend or colleague.
  • 79% of claimants and 86% or employers who used Acas Early Conciliation said they were satisfied with the service provided.
  • 84% of claimants and 87% or employers said they would use Early Conciliation again.
  • Over 90% of delegates to Acas' open access training courses were satisfied or very satisfied with the training they received and around three quarters of delegates said that they were able to deal more effectively with the issues covered on their course as a result of the training they had received.

These are some of our strengths. But we also know that the changing environment in which we operate requires a flexible and adaptable approach. We are determined to continue to provide high quality and high impact services that are responsive to a changing environment and customer needs.

The changing world of work

To continue to deliver expert support, Acas needs to remain close to developments in the world of work. Over the next few years.

  • The composition of the workforce will continue to change. Supporting young workers in their transition to the world of work will be as important as addressing the growing number of older workers and the multi-generational nature of workplaces.
  • New contractual arrangements and a greater mix of people on differing terms and conditions will give rise to more complex employment relationships which in turn increase the potential for uncertainty and conflict.
  • The impact of technological innovation will be complex, driving new business models and creating new people management challenges.
  • While workplace communications are revolutionised by social media the systems for effectively involving employees are in a state of flux. Trade unions offer an important channel for engagement and representation but they are not found in all workplaces. Employee 'voice' will remain crucial in enabling employers and employees to create shared engagement in workplace improvements.
  • Inside the workplace, another feature shaping the employment relationship is the law. As we look to the immediate future, the Trade Union Bill is likely to have implications for the role and activities of the union movement whilst the introduction of the new national living wage will have a significant impact on many organisations and individuals.
  • One area of particular uncertainty is how the future UK relationship with the European Union will impact on the workplace. The period covered by the strategy will see the crucial referendum on the nation's future relationship with the EU.

All of these developments present challenges to organisations and individuals. Helping employers and employees to understand their implications is central to Acas' role, as is providing support in developing solutions and sharing best practice on what works in term of improving workplace effectiveness and working life. Acas will continue to shape its products and services to meet the changing context of work.

Developing Acas for the future

Acas has adapted with great success over the years, responding to dramatic shifts in the world of work, as well as changes to the legal framework within which we operate.

If we are to continue to provide an excellent and cost effective public service, we need to continuously improve what we offer our customers and how we deliver our services.

The Government's digital transformation agenda provides a powerful framework for achieving this. We plan to increase the pace of our response to changing user needs, harnessing the opportunities brought by new technology in re-designing our services and corporate functions. The changes we make will be underpinned by our organisational values and good practice in change leadership and management.

At the heart of Acas lies its people, their commitment, professionalism and expertise. We will continue to develop their capabilities to meet business needs in a rapidly changing environment.