Buckinghamshire council’s £7.5m-a-year outsourcing deal will challenge HR

Buckinghamshire County Council’s HR chief has admitted a new £7.5m-a-year recruitment outsourcing deal will “fundamentally change” her role and present several challenges for the HR team.

The council announced on Monday it had outsourced its recruitment for both permanent and temporary staff across all council services – including schools and fire services – in a move which is expected to save it £690,000 in the first year.

Gillian Hibberd, corporate director people, policy and communications, told Personnel Today: “The move to outsourcing will fundamentally change my role. I am still responsible for recruitment management, but in partnership with Hays [the provider]. The Hays team is based on site, and I’ve not got to work with a bigger organisation.”

Of the 100-strong HR team at Buckinghamshire, 10 worked in transactional recruitment before the new deal. Five of those employees have transferred under TUPE to Hays, and the remaining five were redeployed at the council. The Hays recruitment team is made up of at least 10 staff.

Buckinghamshire is one of the first councils to move to outsourcing on a huge scale; Hertfordshire County Council outsourced its recruitment services in 2000, but this did not include schools.

Hibberd listed several change management challenges ahead. “We need to make sure we support our line managers in accessing the new system. They no longer go through [council] recruitment teams, but will go online and direct to the Hays team.

“We also need to make sure we’re able to cope with the volume of recruitment in the interim period and ensure managers understand the new prices,” she said.

Hibberd was confident the deal would offer many benefits however, including a quicker recruitment service, with candidates being able to track applications online. The contract will also free up resources to divert money towards a recruitment and brand campaign.

“The deal will enhance our presence in the jobs market, and will help us attract more, younger people to apply,” Hibberd said.

Last month, Personnel Today reported that too many employers had unrealistic expectations about what outsourcing could achieve, after a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development survey found just 7% of employers felt outsourcing was a success.

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