It’s very easy, as a new MP, to recruit in a rush. There is an urgent need to ‘hit the ground running’ and the inbox fills up pretty fast. With such a small team, most MPs usually try to recruit someone they have known previously in order to secure a trusted advisor that they can rely on during this chaotic time.
Then, there’s the flurry of recruitment activity going on across Westminster, as staff that have been made redundant seek to find a new MP, and others look for the chance of a new challenge or senior position. It is perhaps only now, after a month or so of being a new Member of Parliament, that you really start working out what your office needs, and some will be wondering if they’ve already got it slightly wrong.
IPSA helpfully provide a list of ‘job families’ setting out endless permutations of how your offices might be staffed and what roles different staff could cover. As anyone who has worked for an MP for any period of time will tell you, most staff do a little bit of everything! Essentially, the bottom line is about splitting your staffing budget into different salaries and then giving a job title based on that salary band.
All Parliamentary offices are different and tackle their workload in different ways. But essentially, these are the obvious responsibilities that need covering:
Personal (benefits/immigration/housing etc)
Policy (campaigns/lobbying/writing to Ministers)
Strategic (big constituency issues that need oversight – infrastructure projects, new hospitals, schools etc)
Local stakeholders & representatives (keeping in touch with parish/town/local councillors, CCG, councils, Police, schools, hospitals etc)
Opening post & triaging emails
Responding to invites and other simply administrative enquiries
Oversight of budgets and submitting expenses to IPSA
Arranging local meetings and engagements
Staying aware of current bills, debates and legislation
Media monitoring of local issues and relevant national issues
Engaging with APPGs and lobbyists
Attending meetings in as MP’s representative in Westminster
Writing press releases
Social media monitoring
Establishing and maintaining a social media presence
Proactive media communications
How you split those responsibilities can depend on many factors. For example, the location of your constituency office could make it difficult to find experienced Caseworkers, so that might better be a role suitable for someone in your Westminster office. Yet anyone working in Westminster will command a higher salary, which can quickly eat up your staffing budget.
Think about staff turnover as well. Westminster is an obvious stepping-stone for many politics’ graduates, who will move on after a couple of years. But having continuity and experience on your team can provide essential stability for you and your constituents. If you can find the right balance, your office will be on track to be a happy, harmonious and productive one.
What to do if you think you may have got things wrong…
If you were quick to hire – for whatever reason – but think you may have got things wrong, either with a particular person or the way you have split up responsibilities, then do not worry. It is very common and can be easily resolved if dealt with tactfully.
Hive Support can offer you a free consultation to review your staffing arrangements so far, help you recruit to fill any gaps and work with you and your staff to ensure everyone is working in roles best suited to their skills. Our appraisal processes can help identify training and support needs, and if difficult conversations do need to be had, then our support and early intervention can be crucial to minimise disruption.
Parliament has unfortunately had a bad reputation as a place of work, and we must do more to improve standards and meet employment practices that are commonplace in all other workplaces. You are responsible for the actions of your staff, how you treat them and how they treat each other. Parliament and IPSA won’t provide you with an experienced HR Manager, Hive Support can.
Utilise our experience to help your team be the best they can be and provide you, and your constituents, with the most efficient and effective support they can. We will not interfere with the day to day running of your office, but we can cover the HR responsibilities that currently rest on your shoulders.
Email us today for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.