Senior HR chief defends BBC personnel position

The BBC’s most senior HR professional has refuted claims that the corporation has too many personnel staff.

Stephen Dando, director of BBC People, confirmed that the department employs 1,000 staff, but said that only around 450 of those could accurately be described as “HR professionals”.

“BBC People has 1,000 staff, but it includes a range of functions not typically known as HR,” he told Personnel Today.

“A significant number are in training and development, which has a traded income. There is also a pensions team, which is separately benchmarked; health and safety across the BBC – vital for a broadcaster which has journalists in dangerous situations; and 150 in production modernisation.”

Last month, following BBC director general Mark Thompson’s announcement that 2,500 jobs would be cut from the corporation’s professional services arm, which includes BBC People, Personnel Today reported that the BBC had an HR to employee ratio of 1:27. The calculation was based on the benchmark of 1,000, which was confirmed by our sources. This prompted comments that the ratio compared badly with most other organisations.

But Dando said initial benchmarking work carried out in association with professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers suggested that BBC People’s HR to employee ratio was “close to the median of public sector organisations”.

According to research from law firm DLA, the average HR to employee ratio for public sector organisations with more than 1,000 staff is 1:98.

BBC People is likely to be cutting some staff as part of a plan to reduce costs by 25 per cent, with exact details to be announced in late March, Dando said. The corporation is also investigating opportunities for outsourcing parts of the operation, although the strategic side of HR will definitely remain in-house, he added.

“BBC People is highly valued -Mark Thompson went out of his way to say this,” Dando said. “We want people to be at the heart of the organisation, with a pro-active role. The changes are not about diminishing the influence of BBC People. My role, for example, has remained on the smaller executive board.”


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