When in February 2018 the Cabinet Office advised the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) Executive that it needed to take steps to ensure Northern Ireland was in a state of readiness for both a deal and no-deal Brexit, Lisa Morgan – then in the process of completing her CIPD Advanced Certificate – knew coping with the workload was going to require agile thinking.

The demand for staff to undertake Brexit work was unprecedented, and 300 posts needed to be filled immediately. Morgan recognised that NICS had traditionally been reactive in terms of workforce planning, focusing only on numbers and failing to plan ahead to meet the demand for skills in areas such as Brexit, so she rapidly developed a resourcing solution.

To ensure that the policy was evidenced-based and met the needs of stakeholders, Morgan oversaw the development and completion of an audit of Brexit resourcing needs across nine NICS departments, using a network of business partners to engage with contacts in departments to understand their requirements.

This provided the vital organisational data and business intelligence needed to inform the development of a solution which would meet business needs while investing in existing talent.

The resulting policy set out a staged process for departments to follow, involving intra- and inter-departmental redeployment, lateral transfer and internal/external recruitment. It included a transparent process to encourage the departments to work corporately, under a mutual aid agreement, to ensure those business areas most impacted by Brexit would be prioritised.

Morgan also collaborated with the shared services provider to introduce changes to the normal recruitment processes to prioritise Brexit posts and reduce timescales to fill posts.

Following approval from the Brexit Programme Board, she then consulted with Trade Union Side (TUS) regarding the approach and changes to normal recruitment, ensuring that employee views were captured and existing staff were offered development opportunities. Finally, she developed a communications strategy to support the launch of the policy in March 2018, which ensured that key stakeholders were fully apprised of the approach and had access to guidance on redeployment and the new recruitment processes. The future-proof policy remains in place today.

Thanks to Morgan’s work departments were able to fill more than 300 posts with candidates with the appropriate skills and experience and 20 elective transfers and two volume promotion competitions have been completed. The transparent guidance for managers ensured that Trade Union Side was supportive of the process and that staff were treated fairly.

Judges were bowled over by this “high profile, high risk, large and complex strategic project of national importance relating to Brexit readiness” and congratulated Morgan on her outstanding achievement.