What the private sector can learn from public sector HR

Three HR experts from the public sector on what the private sector could learn from public organisations

Barry Pirie, president of the Public Service People Managers’ Association (PPMA) and director of people and business services at Wiltshire Council:
“Austerity has forced our organisations to think beyond incremental change and reinvent how they work, and that we in many areas are leading creativity and innovation in business transformational change and the introduction of different business delivery models.

I believe we are far ahead of colleagues in other sectors, including the private sector. Many of us have grasped the challenge and are delivering high performance in challenging yet exciting times. The landscape has changed so much and will continue to change. And HR and organisational design professionals across public services need to be at the leading edge of this change.”

Imogen Denton, equality and communications lead at Nottingham City Council:
“The private sector can learn from us in terms of risk management and considering the needs of all communities. There’s a lot the private sector can learn from us in terms of the diversity and inclusion agenda because there’s a lot of diversity within the private sector, and a private sector organisation might want to diversify who they work for.

We need to teach the private sector that if you’re saving money here it might be more expensive somewhere else. If we can teach them about these sorts of consequences it will help to develop the services that they offer as suppliers to the public sector.”

Gillian Quinton, managing director (business enterprise and shared services) at Buckinghamshire County Council:
“We have really had to drive significant efficiency savings out of our HR budgets. When I visit private sector organisations I can immediately see ways in which they could reduce their costs within HR without any impact on service delivery. I think we have a very strong record in the public sector of making flexible working arrangements work for the business. I think the private sector could learn from this and improve their offer to candidates.

I think that employee relation skills are second to none in the public sector. We have very complex employee relations environments involving a multitude of situations, a variety of unions and employee led committees. As a consequence, the sector has amassed a great deal of skill in handling these situations.”

Further reading

The future of public sector HR

Public sector HR: a PPMA Rising Star's perspective