HR is so much more than just a ‘back-office’ function

I read your feature ‘the public-private debate’ in your ‘reflection edition’ with, it has to be said, some trepidation.

I am fed up of hearing people refer to HR in the public sector as an administrative back-office function. In fact, I’d like to have serious words with the person who coined the derogatory term ‘back office’. This implies HR is a function that businesses want to tuck away somewhere out of sight (and mind) at the end of a very long, dark corridor.

We need to get better at promoting our achievements in a language that the business understands. So lose the ‘HR speak’ and talk about objectives in a tangible way.

In my experience, HR has been able to add value to the business, for example, by reducing absence through enabling flexible working, or by reducing the time to fill a vacancy by outsourcing the resourcing function – both of which saved the organisation substantial sums of money.

From the evidence I have seen, HR deserves more than just the term ‘back office’.

Jo Brown (née Clare)
Senior HR officer, employee relations, Hertfordshire County Council

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