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Improved HR 'needed to boost front line services'
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Continued progress on transforming public services and reducing public spending will depend on a further step-change in people and HR management capability, it has been claimed.
According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in Ireland (CIPD), it is vitally important to deliver higher-quality and lower-cost front line services.
The HR body said organisations need to build the people management skills required in order to lead, support and embed changes in behaviour and new ways of working.
It argues that success will hinge on whether managers are equipped with the leadership skills to engage and empower staff.
Ben Willmott, CIPD's head of public policy: said public service transformation is "critically dependent" on developing new skills, changing engrained behaviours and managing the uncertainty and conflict that can arise as a result.
"Unless HR is involved at the heart of this process to ensure the key people management issues are addressed, this research suggests public service reform plans in Ireland will not reach their potential," he stated.
“Public sector leaders need to build the necessary people management capability in their organisations to encourage and enable those on the frontline of service delivery to go the extra mile and respond to the needs of service users.”
Report contributor Niamh O’Donoghue, general secretary of Ireland's Department of Social Protection, offered the view that HR is at a crossroads.
"The public service reform agenda provides both an opportunity and a challenge," she noted.
"HR can build and establish its reputation as a key strategic function if it is at the heart of managing change, helping to facilitate service delivery redesign and building the necessary leadership and management skills for sustained public service transformation."
But if HR is preoccupied by its traditional activities, such as hand-holding line managers, then it will be left behind, Ms O’Donoghue warned.
This will reinforce the function's reputation as a transactional function.
Posted by Jon Aspinell
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