GCHQ rules out personnel department redundancies

An intelligence agency HR chief has ruled out redundancies in his team this year, but admitted he is trying to make the function more efficient as the recession takes hold.

Gareth Evans, HR directorat eavesdropping department Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), told Personnel Today he was in the middle of making changes to his HR department of about 30 people, to give line managers more responsibility for HR processes. The organisation would benefit from an HR team focused on strategy, which would help lead the body on people issues ready for the upturn, he said.

“At the moment we’re attempting to refocus HR on things that need specialist help and at the same time encouraging the workforce to manage themselves better,” he said. “To do that we’re improving the technology for HR to make their job easier and make the process quicker. But we’re not contemplating HR job cuts.”

Evans added that GCHQ intends to recruit half the number of specialists this year compared to 2008, as the body – like any other government department -looksto rein in costs. The body filled nearly 700 positions last year, compared to the 350 jobs available in 2009. However, rising unemployment will not make the recruitment exercise any easier, Evans said.

“We still have difficulty finding people with specialist skills, sometimes because of issues to do with pay, or just because we’re fishing from a small pool,” he said.

“The big sell we make to applicants is that you can’t take your job home with you, which means you have a great work-life balance. That’s not to say we don’t offer flexible working, but understandably the nature of our work limits homeworking in some roles.”

GCHQ was recently rumoured to have been involved in the arrest of 10 Pakistani students by anti-terror police in Manchester.

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