Whitehall HR teams facing huge relocation challenge

The relocation of 20,000 Civil Service jobs out of London and the South East
– as detailed in the Lyons Report – will prove a massive challenge for HR
departments in Whitehall.

The report, backed by chancellor Gordon Brown in his Budget last week, is
part of the Government’s drive to improve efficiency and cut costs across the
Civil Service.

Lyons also recommends that the Civil Service needs a more co-ordinated
approach if it is to minimise the costs and adverse impact of relocation and
redundancy programmes.

Mike Emmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of
Personnel and Development, predicted hard work ahead for government HR.

"HR will carry the main burden of this process; it will involve massive
consultation with staff and unions, identifying suitable locations, arranging
staff visits, providing access to advice on schools, housing and local
amenities," he said. "The HR departments should really treat it as a
sort of military exercise."

David Samuell, public sector commercial director at consultancy DBM said
that while logistic issues were important, HR would have to pay close attention
to micro-level people issues.

"Staff will want to know what support mechanisms are in place to help
them," he said.

The Public and Commercial Services union called for the Government to
balance regeneration of the regions with the need for public service jobs in
London.

The proposals come before the impact of the Gershon review of government
efficiency – due in late April – which could see further job cuts as functions
such as HR are standardised and shared.

Emmott said the Lyons relocation plans may clash with the Gershon review
because the Civil Service will require many HR professionals to manage the
project.

By Mike Berry

To see a successful relocation case study go to www.personneltoday.com/goto/22914

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