The way local government manages its services continues to be challenged by austerity, but public-sector HR professionals are perfectly placed to drive that change. Martin Couzins returns from the Public Sector People Managers' Association's 2013 conference in Bristol with some useful insights.
Public-sector HR teams are uniquely placed to influence future workforce strategy. This was the message from PricewaterhouseCoopers' Juliet Stuttard, who told the the PPMA annual conference in Bristol that the rapidly changing make-up of public-sector organisations will require HR teams to use an evidence-based approach to workforce strategy.
Stuttard outlined the macro-workforce challenges that she thinks will increasingly affect local government as a result of the projected 900,000 jobs due to be cut by the end of 2017. These include: the ageing workforce; different attitudes towards work from the younger generation; decreasing mobility as families are more reluctant to move for work; engaging the workforce in new ways of working; and the physical and cultural challenges of working across sectors.
Local government now has to do more with less, she said. This change is resulting in emerging models for how local government will deliver its services, whether they are bought in from external providers, shared services or in-house services that are owned by the authority.
Each model will require a different approach to workforce management. For example, those working for an external provider could be working to different organisational aims to those who are working for an in-house team.
Whatever model is required, however, Stuttard said all future workforce strategies will have to focus on five main strands: efficiency, collaboration, productivity, flexibility and agility.
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