HR must be at the heart of public service reform, says CIPD

The Government’s plans to reform public services as part of spending cuts are “at risk of failing to deliver lasting improvements” if HR is not at the heart of the changes, the CIPD has warned.

In a joint report with the Public Sector People Managers’ Association (PPMA), the CIPD argues that more emphasis needs to be placed on HR management issues if the Government intends to deliver higher-quality and lower-cost frontline services.

The report also claims that, for the Government’s “Big Society” to succeed, frontline managers will need to be equipped with the leadership skills to engage and empower staff.

Stephanie Bird, CIPD director of HR capability, said: “Public service transformation is critically dependent on developing new skills, changing ingrained behaviours and managing the uncertainty and conflict that can arise as a result.

“Unless HR is involved at the heart of this process to ensure the key people management issues are addressed, public service reform plans will remain frustrated.”

Dean Shoesmith, PPMA president, added that HR needs to be at the heart of managing change so it can establish its reputation as a key strategic function.

“If HR is preoccupied by its traditional activities, such as hand-holding line managers, then it will be left behind and its reputation as a transactional function will be reinforced.”

Read the full report, Boosting HR performance in the public sector.

The report argues that HR should play a crucial role in helping to ensure:

  • Local government managers have the capability to work with different parts of the public, private and the voluntary sectors to deliver more cost-effective and customer-focused services
  • Jobcentre Plus advisers are equipped with the skills to provide individual support to benefit claimants to help them back to work; and
  • GP consortia, which will gain health service commissioning powers from primary care trusts, have the skills to lead and manage changes to how critical services are provided.

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