PPMA president calls time on navel-gazing HR dinosaurs

Public sector HR must evolve or be wiped out, the president of the Public Sector People Managers Association (PPMA) has warned.

In his opening address to the annual PPMA conference in Brighton last week, Stephen Moir said practitioners had to decide whether to head towards a strategic future, or extinction.

“There is no doubt we are at a crossroads for HR, and the path all HR professionals should choose is the one that is evolutionary and the hardest,” he said.

Moir, the head of HR at Cambridgeshire County Council, hit out at what he called “HR dinosaurs” stalking some areas of the public sector.

He said the age of the “lumbering personnel department” that slowed organisations down was dead.

Outsourcing, shared services, new technology and efficiency targets were not threats to HR delivery, he said, and public sector teams had to get to grips with them.

Moir also used his speech to attack “self-obsessed navel gazers” in HR.

He said: “I’m sick and tired of being part of a profession that wallows in self-pity. HR must stop feeling sorry for itself.”

His warning follows criticism last month from the CBI that public sector employment practices were not up to scratch.

But Moir said many state-funded bodies were already seizing that agenda and becoming “faster, fitter and more flexible”.

Angela O’Connor, chief people officer at the National Policing Improvement Agency, said she thought Moir’s speech would hit home.

“I would worry if our president didn’t say something like that. Stephen Moir is not afraid to deal with the uncomfortable truths within the profession and that takes courage,” she said.

Moir laid out five key themes that practitioners in the sector should focus on: leadership, talent management, equality and diversity, pay and reward, and service transformation.

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