Public sector HR: is it up to the job?

first_img Previous Article Next Article Despite rating themselves highly on industrial relations, employment law andinnovation, public sector HR professionals admit they still haven’t solved theperennial problems of performance management, funding and recruitment andretention. A survey by Personnel Today of almost 1,000 HR directors, managers and staffworking in the public sector reveals that, while tackling massive changes inrestructuring and efficiency, almost 60 per cent fear they lack the funding tosupport such organisational change. And this feeling is particularly acute inthe health service. The vast majority of respondents believe their HR departments are dealingwell with changes in employment law, industrial relations, innovation, equalopportunities, employee relations and diversity. But almost half feel their departments are not doing very well on retainingand attracting talent. The problem of skills shortages in the public sectorlabour market concerns 41 per cent of the survey sample. Public sector HR professionals like the way their working life isstructured. Nearly 90 per cent rated the benefits of flexible working as good,89 per cent agree there is good job security, and three-quarters rate thework-life balance the public sector offers. Managing staff performance was cited as the sector’s main downfall, withmore than half the respondents rating it as not good. Around two-thirds of respondents believe stress levels in the public sectorare too high. Interestingly, they appear to increase the longer a person hasworked in the sector – two-thirds of people with more than five years’experience said stress levels were not good. Almost half of those questioned have previously worked in the privatesector, and of these, nearly two-thirds (61 per cent) prefer working in thepublic sector. Three-quarters of HR directors also prefer working in the publicto the private sector. Jane King, editor of Personnel Today, said it is clear that most publicsector HR professionals feel proud of their work and see many benefits. “As a fair employer, the public sector scores well, but it has majorchallenges to overcome if services overall are to improve,” she said.”The HR profession is well-placed to make the difference, but it needsadequate funding to pull off organisational change.” By Mike Berry Pay gulf widens as HR staff move up the ladderThe yawning gap between the pay of public and private sector HRprofessionals has been revealed by a survey of almost 7,000 Personneltoday.comusers. The findings confirm what we have suspected all along that the pay gulfwidens with seniority. While the gap between private sector HR managers andthose in the public sector is more than £5,000 (around 14 per cent of salary),the difference at HR director level is more than £16,000 (nearly 21 per cent). However, the pay discrepancies are not causing public sector HR workers toflee, as roughly the same proportion of public sector and private sectoremployees are keeping an eye on the jobs market. Around 30 per cent of respondents (both public and private) are activelyseeking a new job, and a further 51 per cent of public sector and 46 per centof private sector HR professionals say they would jump ship if the right jobcame along. Publicsector HR self-assessment35%of HR directors rate their work-life balance as ‘not very good’85%in local government rate the public sector as ‘good’ for job security82%of HR professionals in central government have never worked in the privatesector76%of HR directors in the public sector prefer it to the private sector66%of HR directors rate morale in their HR department as ‘high’25%of HR staff rate morale in their department as ‘high’92%of HR professionals in local government rate their department as ‘good’ atdealing with changes in employment law93%of HR directors say their department is ‘good’ at industrial relations87%in the health sector rate their department as ‘fairly good’ or ‘very good’ ondiversity issues47%of HR directors say public sector HR is ‘not good’ at managing performance56%of HR professionals in central government rate the salary levels as ‘not good’10%of health HR professionals rate benefits as ‘very good’64%say career opportunities in the public sector are either ‘fairly good’ or ‘verygood’78%of health HR professionals say stress levels are ‘not good’99%of central government respondents rate flexible working benefits as ‘good’Figuresbased on responses from 932 HR professionals currently working in the publicsectorReasons to work in the Public Sector– Because it is not profit driven and therefore can offer a more caringapproach – Provision of a valued service to people and because we can network andshare experiences – Very attractive pension scheme and non-pay benefits – Tend to follow legislation more strictly. Have to be more innovative forHR solutions -can’t just throw money at it – Less hire and fire attitude – Staff are given more opportunities to develop and there is more supportfor staff – More interesting issues to deal with – Working for a reason, not just money – Training and personnel development is taken seriously – I can have an impact on the quality of people’s lives, rather than justmaking profit for the directors and shareholders – More interesting HR work, never dull – Less pressure, more flexibility in the role I am in. It’s worth at least£10,000 per annum to me – I work 9-5 without too much stress Reasons to work in the Private Sector– More dynamic environment, more pressurised, more career opportunities andmore responsibility – Public sector is too heavy with bureaucracy and overly controlled, opposedto streamlined and managed – Technology is more advanced – There is better ability to fund, plan and action change withoutgovernment/civil serviceinfecting the work – Poor performance managed better – Remuneration reflects role – Decisions can be made immediately by HR rather than through a committeeunaware of the whole remit of employee relations – Private sector empowers organisations, whereas public sector is still toobureaucratic and stymies innovation – Work with HR professionals, not civil servants that don’t alwaysunderstand HR – More money, better working conditions. Looks better on CV – In the public sector, union intervention and rigid grade structurerestricts innovation and makes HR rather inflexible And some don’t like it anywhere: Actually neither – HR is moribund inboth sectors! (Give me several hours and I will tell you why) Comments are closed. Public sector HR: is it up to the job?On 9 Mar 2004 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more