Public sector HR professionals urged to review policies to cope with cost efficiency drive

Public sector HR professionals have been urged to review job roles, strategies and processes to cope with cuts in public expenditure and deliver savings outlined in the government’s cost cutting agenda.
Addressing delegates attending the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) annual conference in Manchester, Gillian Hibberd, president of the Public Sector People Managers Association, said HR departments had so far failed to make the changes necessary to meet the requirements Treasury’s Operational Efficiency Review, designed to save £35 billion. This also comes at a time when the government plans to cut public expenditure by around £14 billion.
As a result of the review, launched as part this year’s Budget Report, HR departments are under pressure to deliver £1 billion of savings for the government through better benchmarking against value for money indicators. These indicators and include several different measures, such as cost of the HR function and ratio of employees to HR staff. CIPD predicts a subsequent loss of 6% of the public sector HR head count.
Hibberd said: “This is a time for public services organisations to think differently and act differently. It’s about organisations being slicker with processes that are faster and cheaper. We have simply failed to this so far. Some parts of HR are worst culprits.” She added: “We have to move forward from our obsession with processes at the expense of outcomes.”
Of the 73 HR professionals that were surveyed for the CIPD’s report The challenge for public sector HR, responding to the operational efficiency programme, 51% have already gone through a restructure, and for more than 25% that has meant downsizing. While a third have moved to a shared services HR model, more than half (53%) expect to adopt this approach in the near future.