Job cuts likely as firms look to export HR roles

The exodus of British jobs to countries such as India may soon hit the HR
profession with higher skilled roles being transferred overseas, according to a
poll of top company directors.

A survey of 260 companies by the CBI shows that almost half are under pressure
to relocate, while 29 per cent are already exporting jobs.

Until now, it has mainly been low skilled jobs that have been relocated to
foreign countries, but companies are now looking at the possibility of
outsourcing a whole range of functions, including HR.

Susan Anderson, director of HR policy at the CBI said the move could prevent
HR staff moving up the career ladder and deny them an entry route to the
profession.

"For administration or process tasks it doesn’t really matter if it’s
in Brighton or Bangkok, but I’ve spoken to some companies that are outsourcing
HR advice.

"The worry for me is that it might break the career ladder for staff
coming into the profession," she said.

However, she said that relocation was hitting all jobs and may have the
unintentional affect of pushing some responsibility back towards line managers.

Increasing regulatory pressure is being blamed for the shift with
three-quarters of respondents claiming the UK has become significantly less
business friendly than five years ago.

Over four-fifths said costs were the key factor in the decision to relocate,
along with labour skills (24 per cent) and legislation (26 per cent).

Ben Willmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of
Personnel and Development said employers should consider the impact relocations
could have on their brand and staff morale.

"If this is just a cost-cutting exercise then companies should ask
themselves what it will do to their image and employer brand. There’s a limit to
what you can outsource because recruitment and training require face-to-face
contact," he said.

By Ross Wigham

Feedback from the profession
Would overseas HR work?

Raymond Ryan, HR director at the Montpellier group

"It would be very difficult to outsource all of HR. To be
effective, you have to know the people and the culture. Legal advice would be
possible from another country as long as the staff were very well informed. It
would be difficult to operate strategic HR at arm’s length."

John Wrighthouse head of group
training at Nationwide

" It all depends on what level of service you want to
provide to employees. HR should be at the core of any organisation and it seems
that sending jobs overseas is just playing the money game. It will probably
work for simple HR advice."

Debbie Jones VP of business
infrastructure at Inmarsat

"I’m struggling to understand how you can have HR so far
away from the organisation because to fully understand the culture you have to
be a part of it. On the other hand-process stuff or legal advice can be based
anywhere."

David Parry partner, HR
transformation, Deloitte

"More and more has been offshored success- fully. There is
more confidence and acceptance [of doing this], and in the mid-market, with
3,000 to 10,000 employees, it is even possible to outsource the business
partner role."

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