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Employee availability improves following test and trace changes Tuesday September 21, 2021

Recent changes to NHS test and trace guidance have been welcomed by light rail HR professionals, with fewer staff being required to self-isolate.

Members of the UKTram HR Group have reported that staff absence levels were returning to near pre-pandemic levels following updated guidance introduced last month.

Jamie Swift, UKTram Marketing and Commercial Manager, said: “The last group meeting heard that there was something of a return to ‘business as usual’ with an easing of the rules which now allow people to return to work after a negative test result.”

However, the after-effects of the pandemic were still being felt by operators, with staff retention and recruitment now proving the biggest challenge.

“A buoyant jobs market has meant that some staff were leaving the sector. Filling their roles, especially in customer-facing jobs, was proving difficult,” Jamie said.

“Members of the group indicated that there is now so much competition from the retail and hospitality sectors for some roles that candidates are thin on the ground, although a number of operators say they have waiting lists for people wanting to become drivers.

“As a result, they have now ramped up their training programmes to ensure successful candidates can start work as quickly as possible.”

Jamie added that, in an effort to solve the shortage of candidates, some operators are reviewing selection and assessment processes as well as making changes to shift patterns and rotas, to appeal to new recruits who may not be fully flexible.

At the meeting, HR professionals also discussed how they can collaborate by sharing Key Performance Indicators, so that issues such as staff turnover and sickness can be benchmarked within the sector. UKTram is planning to facilitate an annual data collection and analysis project to support operators in achieving this.