HR & Admin Department news

HR & Admin Department news 

Living through the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been a challenge across organisations. The pandemic impacted on HR practices and policies and forced organisations to embrace a new way of working, a “new era of normal”, CTO embraced home working for example. 

The CTO Secretariat had to respond quickly to changes in new national health guidelines and make decisions concerning the welfare of the organisation not knowing the full impact these decisions would have. For example, the CTO chose to apply to be a recipient of the UK furlough scheme, a scheme designed to protect millions of jobs. CTO furloughed over half of CTO staff at the start of the first lockdown and whilst this gave the organisation financial support, which made sense at the time as overseas travel and member-centric interactions were restricted, this also meant that for the staff that remained working there was a limited number of achievements over that period. Now that the furlough period has ended the CTO is pleased to confirm all staff have returned to work their regular hours. With hindsight we can determine that CTO benefitted from the changes implemented, that resilience was achieved for the long-term health of the organisation. CTO had to change and adapt to protect employees while keeping the business operational. The CTO is grateful to the UK government for extending the furlough scheme to the CTO during height of the COVID pandemic this helped the Secretariat enormously.  

Our guidepost on all decisions was our shared values, to be caring, responsible, pragmatic, protecting, nurturing, resourceful and industrious. With CTO having a small number of staff with a strong commitment to our members, staff adapted to homeworking quickly.  CTO was able to organise for some staff to take office landline phones and connect them in their home Wi-Fi routers. This enabled us to keep in touch with our members. We were also able to upskill staff to new ways of communicating including using Microsoft Teams and Zoom. 

In August of 2020 the Executive Committee (EXCO) completed the Secretary General’s recruitment drive, and Ms Bernadette Lewis, the successor, started duties. We were able to conduct induction procedures remotely, whilst she remained in her home country of Trinidad and Tobago. She has worked effectively from her home during this time, as have the rest of the Secretariat. The SG has participated remotely in many international conferences coordinated meetings with members governments, managing the CTO Secretariat whilst working from home.

Staff were agile to the changing times, many were multitasking as by the time of full lockdown we did not have a full staff capacity at the secretariat, and the team worked collectively.

In terms of Administration Division achievements, the CTO replaced the computer server, it was long overdue at the grand age of thirteen years old, and historical documents and files have now been moved to the cloud, we migrated to One Drive and Office 365.

The CTO purchased laptops for all staff to assist the homeworking, and some staff undertook studies taking online courses to not only improve their skills and knowledge but also courses that would be beneficial to the CTO business.

The Events and CDT divisions organised online events and we started up a staff online get together where we share ideas, to support each other, this is beneficial to staff wellbeing.  

CTO contracted a solicitor to update the CTO Constitution and CTO Rules of Procedures to enable the CTO to hold virtual governance meetings and another solicitor to help us with historical pension matters.

The Secretariat assisted the development of the draft CTO strategic plan and suggested changes to the Staff Handbook that will need Council review and endorsement, and enlisted Health and Safety services to offer CTO support that proved important to have during the pandemic period. 

The HR & Admin Department is transferring Human Resources software from HR Simplify, provided by Croner to Bright HR, also provided by Croner. BrightHR has greater functionality in terms of reporting and centralising data and this transfer will be implemented before the 1st of April 2022.   In the same period, we applied and were successful in getting Professional Fellows through the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC). We were awarded six Commonwealth fellowship applicants from member countries, including Mauritius, Pakistan, India, and Nigeria. The fellowship programme will be starting in March 2022 for three months and all six projects focus on the theme “Girls Education”. The Secretariat looks forward to working with this year’s fellows and hopes to deliver projects that have real impact in member countries.