I’ve been an HR professional in the Civil Service for some time now, but I was never prouder than when the Civil Service signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development). That’s because it’s more than a piece of paper that’s going to be filed and forgotten about. This memorandum sets the precedent that the Civil Service should be and will be synonymous with the highest standards of HR professionalism, the standards championed by the CIPD.
This could not be more timely. The Civil Service HR function is facing some of the greatest challenges government has ever encountered. We need:
- to staff two new departments and ensure they have the talent necessary to leave the European Union and to get the best trade deals for Britain once we have left;
- to make sure we get the basics right while driving through the big changes that are happening in all departments, not just the new ones or the ones that are merging;
- to be agile to ensure the Civil Service is in the best position to make the most of our vibrant diversity, the UK’s great talent pool and the amazing opportunities presented by technological innovation; and
- the self-confidence and credibility that this document brings to be able to make the necessary decisions to develop high-performing, adaptable civil servants who take personal responsibility and make a truly brilliant Civil Service.
I think sometimes that people forget how important HR is. It’s one of those things that you only notice when it goes wrong and rarely gets noticed when it’s doing well. It’s odd because the HR function is so crucial. We have a key role to play in rewarding and recognising staff for good work, ensuring rigour and fairness when dealing with poor performance, making sure that organisations have the fantastic people they need to perform well, and ensuring that there is provision for learning and development so that staff can realise their ambitions and grow. It’s a vital part of making work a great place to be, and building a brilliant Civil Service.
This MoU is a reason to remember how important HR is, and for those of us who are HR practitioners to be proud and confident. It links some of the most interesting and challenging work in the world to the necessity for the highest standards of HR. It’s a statement not just to civil servants but to citizens as well, that the Civil Service is prepared and has the capability to be brilliant no matter what the challenge.
The Civil Service is amongst the largest employers in the country and, through its employees, plays a vital role in all our lives in the delivery of the many public services we engage with. It is also undergoing a lot of change, and the HR professionals who work across the Civil Service need to have the confidence, capabilities, and experience to play their role in these changes, and support the wide range of departments and entities as well as the large and diverse workforce.
The CIPD is delighted to be working with the CSHR team to help to support, recognise, and further develop their professional skills and competencies, and we share the vision of building a strong, confident, and professional HR function playing its part in the development of the Civil Service for the future.
Peter Cheese, Chief Executive, CIPD