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CIPD Conference: We are HR Plc, says Hampshire County Council's HR director

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HR departments in public sector organisations must thinking more like businesses, according to a local government HR director.

Hampshire County Council’s Gavin Wright said that working in the public sector should not be used as an excuse for avoiding best practice.

"You can’t use the public sector tag as an excuse to not provide the best services that you possibly can." Wright said. "We have an ethos that is ‘we are a business providing public services.’

"We look to use the best business practice both from the private and the public sector in everything that we do and our product is essentially providing services.

Wright made the comments at a seminar the CIPD Conference in Manchester on Thursday.

"What we’ve said is that effectively we think that many public sector organisations are almost constrained by the fact that they think of themselves as a public sector organisations so that the way that they operate," Wright said. Speaking to HR magazine after the session, Wright said that such a philosophy had undoubtedly affected their work in HR:

"We’re effectively a board, HR Plc, and staff are out shareholders. We constantly reference ourselves back to our shareholders to [ask] ‘Would you continue voting confidence in this board?’

"It’s that idea that if you’re a private sector organisation, you’ve got your customers. You rely on those people for your revenue, and you then base a customer-care strategy based on that."

"What we want to do is to create an ethos that says ‘yes we are a public sector organisation, but not in a way that constrains us.’

Wright was speaking at a session entitled ‘Lean resourcing: benefiting from a flexible workforce’, alongside Richard Lloyd, Manufacturing Manager at Constellation Wines Australia and Europe. The seminar was chaired by the CIPD’s Vanessa Robinson; their Head of HR Practice Development.