South West Trains dismisses reports of anger over centralisation plan for human resources team

South West Trains has defended its decision to merge its human resources team from four offices between London and the South Coast into one.

The train operator insisted the move had benefited the company and that morale in the department was good – despite reports of claims to the contrary.

One HR professional who left when the function was centralised in Southampton this autumn told Personnel Today that the move caused 75% of HR staff to quit.

“Three-quarters of the members of the operational HR team have left in the past three months due to the ‘strategic HR decision’ to centralise the HR departments in Southampton,” he said.

“Any staff involvement in defining the HR strategy was at best minimal and at worst non-existent,” he added.

The personnel team, headed by HR director Margaret Kay, had about 70 employees before the merger. South West Trains said only 10 posts had been lost and admitted some staff had chosen voluntary redundancy.

“Before the move, everyone was given the opportunity to move to Southampton, take another job in the company or accept voluntary redundancy,” said a company spokesman.

“Nobody was forced into a job they did not want. We think the people there are happy to be doing the job they are doing.”

He added that the new-look HR department was better for the company than the previous set-up. “It is more efficient and more consistent. It is all in one office now, rather than four offices, and communication has improved.”

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