Call for public services shake-up

HR in public services needs a radical overhaul to tackle the problems the
sector faces recruiting and retaining staff.

An Audit Commission report, Recruitment and Retention, published today calls
for HR to be given greater involvement at board and senior management levels to
ensure public sector organisations develop comprehensive recruitment and
retention strategies.

The study finds that although public sector HR is more ‘progressive’ and
offers better flexible working, training and development opportunities than the
private sector, it fails to make an impact because the function is not
strategic enough.

Keith Handley, immediate past president of local government HR body Socpo,
agreed with the report’s main findings.

"Too many authorities blow the trumpet about people being their main
asset yet do not even have a HR person on the management team," he said.

The report also identifies a need for improved monitoring of staff turnover,
absence rates and job satisfaction, and advocates greater use of exit interviews
– only a fifth of more than 300 ex-public sector workers polled in the report
had ever had exit interviews.

Other recommendations include reducing the number of targets to give
frontline staff greater autonomy and freedom to concentrate on quality of

Trish Longdon, director of people development at the Audit Commission, said:
"Staff feel overwhelmed by the unhelpful number of targets. These do not
help staff to prioritise as there are so many of them."

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