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The Central Office of Information (COI)

The Central Office of Information (COI) is the Government’s centre of excellence for marketing and communications.  Since the late 1940’s they have worked in partnership with government departments and the public sector to drive best practice and cost effectiveness in the way citizens are informed, engaged and influenced about issues that affect their lives – from health and education to benefits, rights and welfare.  They have a wealth of staff many of whom have worked on some high profile projects informing the public  of issues such as swine flu, smoking campaigns, ‘mad cow’ disease and many more.  They also work with many of our Senior politicians and Advisors on marketing, communication and advertising.

However in August 2010, the central government freeze on non-essential advertising and marketing spend resulted in them having to significantly reduce volumes of work for the Central Office of Information (COI).

Consequently, COI had to restructure to reflect the reduced volume of work and therefore had to significantly reduce staff numbers by 40 per cent, with the loss of 287 jobs from 737 employees

The COI engaged with Job Centre Plus to discuss the DWP’s programme for the delivery of support that could be accessed through the Department of Work and Pensions Response to Redundancy services.

As an accredited supplier to the DWP to provide Job Search support services for Professional and Executives  GSS were called in to discuss the feasibility of delivering support services to a number of staff through our ‘Solution Package’ which delivered effective Career support training via structured Group presentations, 1-1 Career Advice as well as accessing GSS Career Management Portal Inveniam which allows individuals to enter into an Interactive on-line career management provision that gives 24 hour advice and guidance through a suite of videos, downloadable material pod casts and interactive material relating to all aspects of a person’s career and job searching process.

Staff at the COI

Staff at the COI are based across numerous geographical locations, namely London, Newcastle, Bristol, Manchester, Nottingham, Cambridge, Birmingham, Leeds and Edinburgh and GSS delivered both group workshops and 1-2-1 sessions in all of these locations, with the exception of Edinburgh where the small number of staff based there travelled to Newcastle for the provision, at the request of COI.

The COI employ a diverse range of staff including Marketing Executives, Finance Professionals, IT Engineers, HR Professionals, Office Managers, Administrative and Reception Staff, and all staff were under the threat of redundancy during the reorganisation and were therefore eligible to receive the Career Transition and Job Search Support services from GSS.  Also, within these differing professions and job roles, staff were at various grades within the organisation, from Executive Officers and Senior Executive Officers, all the way through to the Senior Civil Service.  GSS provided relevant and practical Career Transition and Job Search Support services to staff from all of the aforementioned professions and job roles within COI, and to staff at all of the varying grades within the organisation.

GSS delivered the Career Transition and Job Search Support service to the majority of staff before the COI’s final organisational decisions had been made and therefore when the staff were under threat of redundancy and considering their potential situations, rather than after they knew if they were leaving or remaining within the organisation.  This meant that there were various options available to COI staff including applying for voluntary redundancy, taking retirement or applying for early retirement, or applying to remain within the organisation, but consideration also had to be given to the likely prospect of compulsory redundancies being necessary.  Following the decisions and announcement of those staff that were being affected by the redundancies, GSS remained available to see any staff affected who had not initially taken advantage of the service when it was offered to all staff.  At GSS we appreciate that a member of staff’s reaction and attitude to career transition is likely to be very different depending on whether it has resulted from the prospect or acceptance of voluntary redundancy, early retirement, or alternatively of compulsory redundancy.  At the COI GSS delivered relevant and practical support and guidance to staff experiencing all of these circumstances.

The GSS Provision to COI

Timeline GSS Provision
Sept  2010 GSS met with COI HR representatives to establish provision and plan implementation
Sept – Oct 2010 Delivery of a total of 18 Half Day Job Search Support Workshops to 333 employees across 8 different locations
Sept – Oct 2010 Delivery of 45 min 1-2-1 Job Search Support sessions to 333 employees across 8 different locations
Nov 2010 Delivery of 90 min 1-2-1 Job Search Support sessions to 15 employees 

(In order to ensure that support was available to those staff who had not previously attended the provision prior to the final announcement of the staff who would be directly affected by the redundancies)

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