Surrey County Council saves £9m with 90% cut in HR

Surrey County Council has saved more than £9m in the past four years by dramatically slashing the number of jobs in its HR department from 400 to just 40.

The mass cull was part of an organisational restructure spearheaded by the council’s head of HR, Graham White.

General HR administration was transferred to an internal shared-services centre, and most of the HR support service for education was outsourced.

The restructure led to the removal of more than 600 posts across the council in total, with HR the most significant casualty. The final part of the process was completed in May this year as part of the council’s 2006 business delivery review, and resulted in the loss of more than 60 HR posts.

The organisation worked with several other public sector bodies to relocate staff, and it also provided outplacement support.

“Through effective use of TUPE [the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations], internal relocation and natural turnover, a very large part of the process was completed with little to no disruption,” White told Personnel Today.

White believes the workforce reductions have not affected HR services, despite the ratio of HR people to employees dropping from 1:80 to 1:600. “The new ratio is still very credible, even in today’s climate,” he said.

The HR function has completely changed its profile within the council as a result of the shake-up, according to White. “We wanted to raise the game of HR, to move beyond being a large bureaucracy into a dynamic, strategic player in the organisation,” he said.

White was hired from Ulster Bank in 2002 with the objective of reforming the council’s large and disparate HR service.

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