Third sector appeals for charity to begin at home with HR help

Large HR teams in the not-for-profit sector should offer their expertise free of charge to smaller organisations struggling to cope with spiralling levels of grievance cases, senior figures have recommended.

A report by the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) found ineffective HR had caused the number of employment tribunal cases to jump beyond the number of those in the private sector – and warned this could undermine the third sector’s ability to attract new recruits.

The 2007 CIPD Managing Conflict at Work survey found there was one grievance case for every 92 staff in the not-for-profit sector, compared with one in 516 in the private sector, and one in 323 in the public sector.

But the ACEVO report said well-meaning trustees in smaller firms had little or no training in workplace relations, and could not provide the specialist skills needed to implement effective disciplinary and grievance procedures. Nor did they have the money to hire in-house HR professionals.

ACEVO chief executive Stephen Bubb urged good HR teams to share best practice. “I would like to see more collaboration between charities of different sizes,” he told Personnel Today.

“There are benefits for both parties and it can help build a more professional sector.”

However, he pointed out that grievance cases were not solely caused by poor HR, as third-sector employees tended to champion fairness more than staff in the private sector.

Guy Pink, HR director at drug and alcohol addiction charity Addaction, which employs about 650 people, said sending an HR professional to a smaller organisation to help improve its personnel service could help counter the sector’s lack of funding.

“It’s great career development for that individual, but will also help the smaller charity improve the way it handles HR,” he said.

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