The HR profession has found itself the target of increased criticism and scrutiny during 2010. Examples include Times columnist Sathnam Sanghera’s attack on public sector HR professionals as particularly “grossly overpaid” and last week’s heated debate around the question of whether the time might have come to scrap HR altogether. Last night’s televised prime ministerial debate (ahead of the 2010 general election, which takes place on Thursday 6 May 2010) saw the launch of a new attack on perceived HR ‘waste’ in the public sector (and a dismissal of the profession as a whole as devoted to “form filling) from arguably HR’s highest-profile critic yet – a gentleman who could well be Prime Minister in just under three weeks’ time – Conservative leader David Cameron.Asked by Gordon Brown whether the Conservatives would “continue to fund the police” (followed by Brown’s demand: “It’s answer time, David.”), Cameron responded by highlighting examples of wasted resources in the Police service (PDF format, 1.6MB), (external website) which an incoming Conservative Government would target. These included a direct reference to the Metropolitan Police HR department. Cameron said:
The Metropolitan Police have 400 uniformed officers in their human resources department. Our police officers should be crime fighters, not form-fillers, and that’s what needs to change.
Responding to Cameron’s statement, Metropolitan Police HR director Martin Tiplady told Personnel Today:
The police officers are not form-filling. Most of them are training other cops. I’m quite relieved that police officers are training police officers. They are there because they need to be there to train others.
The Police Professional website reports (external website) that the Metropolitan Police has subsequently “clarified the numbers of officers classified in Human Resources [as 398] with the majority based in training.”
Indeed, the Metropolitan Police HR department is already engaged in an ongoing efficiency drive. The April 2010 edition of the Metropolitan Police internal newsletter The Job (PDF format, 5.3MB) (external website), includes reports on the impact of the Transforming HR modernisation programme (which it says “has centralised some parts of HR, redeploying personnel from across the Met, yet with minimal redundancies”) and on the May 2010 launch of the PeopleServices and My HR SelfService systems (which will automate “many day-to-day HR activities”). It quotes Metropolitan Police HR director (and Chartered Companion of the CIPD) Martin Tiplady (external website) as follows:
We have explored new ways of working and are set to deliver savings of around £58m over the next three years. This has been achieved by reviewing the way we deliver training, HR services, transport, catering and criminal exhibit storage – with little or no impact on the end-user.
Last month, Personnel Today reported that police forces across the UK have been “tasked with delivering £346 million worth of savings in the next three years” in response to demands for savings set out in Chancellor Alistair Darling’s Budget 2010.
- Earlier this year, benchmarking research from XpertHR on HR roles and responsibilities in 2010 suggested that public sector HR departments could already be leaner than those in the private sector (subscription to XpertHR benchmarking required). Across the whole economy, respondents to the survey reported a median ratio of 90 employees to each member of HR staff. A breakdown by sector reveals a median ratio of 83.6 employees to each HR professional at public sector organisations. This compares with ratios of 87.5:1 in private sector services, and 111:1 In manufacturing and production companies.