Jabbar Sardar, HR director, television, BBC

As HR director for television at the BBC, Jabbar Sardar oversees all HR activity in both studios and commissioning.

Jabbar Sardar took up the role in January 2016 and reports to BBC group HR director Valerie Hughes D'Aeth.

He joined the BBC from Cafcass, where was was director of HR and OD. At Cafcass he helped to transform the workplace culture into one with high engagement, low sickness levels, innovation and high standards. He has led an agenda of total organisational and cultural change, moving Cafcass from being ‘on the edge’ in 2010 to ‘cutting-edge’ in 2014.

The social work sector is often associated with poor employee engagement, high sickness, and a lack of innovation around workforce development. In 2010 the Public Accounts Committee declared Cafcass as ‘not fit for purpose’ citing, among other things: unacceptably high sickness absence levels; low compliance by staff; poor assessments in care cases causing delay; and poor management information systems.

He built an infrastructure which allows Cafcass achieve the right balance between a challenging but supportive performance culture. This enabled Cafcass to move on more than 700 members of staff in the past five years who weren’t up to standard and recruit high calibre replacements, through investing in new recruitment selection tools including online assessment centers for social workers. Management numbers reduced from 339 to 140 during the period 2009-2014 and this has enabled better and more targeted support for staff, as well as ensuring that Cafcass spends 93% of its budget on frontline staff, one of the highest of any public sector organisation.

In 2013/14 Sardar introduced a comprehensive health and wellbeing plan, providing staff with self-access to a range of health and wellbeing treatments and services. He achieved a 98.5% take up of the plan, which helped keep sickness absence levels at below seven days.

Sardar played an integral role in helping the organisation achieve its strategic aim to achieve a self-sufficient and self-regulating workforce without compromising on quality. In 2013 he introduced ‘MyWork’ an electronic individual score card bringing together a range of data to present individual staff with real time information on their performance, impact, financial efficiency and enabling comparison of this against their team and nationally. This has helped to ensure that a ‘golden thread’ of shared understanding of priorities runs through the organisation from top to bottom. The MyWork programme is considered cutting edge for the sector.

Sardar also devised a talent management strategy in 2013 with a focus on strengths rather than weaknesses to help shape a culture of high engagement – this is being achieved through collaboration with Strengths Partnership©. In addition, he instigated a strategic partnership with Sheffield Hallam University to enhance existing leadership development programmes, which have culminated in Ofsted declaring Cafcass as having ‘outstanding national leadership’.

Sardar’s leadership and vision have been transformational for Cafcass, in terms of its workforce development and performance monitoring, and will carry through to the wider social profession and public sector.

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