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Has BBC Payoffs Row Damaged Reputation of HR?

Alan Stewart

| 9 Posts

Chartered Member

9 Sep, 2013 06:27

Has the conduct of the BBC's Head of HR (Lucy Adams) during the current Payoffs Row brought the HR profession into disrepute?


If Ms. Adams is a member of the CIPD and is found to have violated the CIPD standards in such a public manner, should her membership be revoked?


Does anyone agree that once the dust has settled on the affair, the CIPD should consider using this as a case study to see if there are any lessons that can be learned by the HR profession?


Not sure if I am alone here but I think we have a difficult enough time convincing business leaders to value HR without high profile cases like this undermining the credibility of the profession.


I have no political axe to grind here, just interested to hear what other HR people make of this story and whether we should respond in some way.

  • Steve Bridger

    | 6494 Posts

    Community Manager

    9 Sep, 2013 06:53

    Hi Alan,

    A heads up that I'm not sure we should be discussing individuals here in this way. I know that the CIPD would never comment on individual disciplinary cases anyway - actual or potential future ones.

    The general topic of executive payoffs was discussed in December last year, I recall.

    Steve

  • Keith

    | 8887 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    9 Sep, 2013 08:15

    Personally I don't think this damages the image of HR in any significant way. There appeared to be an entire management culture at the BBC that allowed these payments and encouraged a serial disregard to the control and allocation of public money. The HR department at a senior level appeared to be part of this culture and I think it is the BBC rather than HR that has had its reputation damaged.

    Many firms in the private sector will end up agreeing severance deals in excess of contractual entitlement for a variety of reasons, some good some bad.

    Personally I haven't had huge difficulties persuading business of the value of good commercial HR practice.

    Just on your last point I don't think its  apolitical issue in any real sense axe to grind or not.

  • Christopher

    | 33 Posts

    Chartered Member

    9 Sep, 2013 11:33

    I personally don't think the "custom and practice" defence helped the reputation of the BBC and HR in general.
  • Alan Stewart

    | 9 Posts

    Chartered Member

    10 Sep, 2013 06:11

    If we take individual personalities out of it then, the general public is seeing a story in the media about how public sector managers approved payoffs that were unnaceptable to most licence fee payers and MP's.


    HR at BBC did not prevent this and actually supported it - whilst I agree with Keith that this was due to the management culture at the BBC, it does not reflect well on HR.


    Chris is right, HR should not just go along with bad practice when it exists but work to change the existing culture - otherwise we should just go back to calling ourselves Personnel Administration.


    Given the public outrage about MP's expenses and other examples of public money being misused during a period of national austerity, I would have expected any senior HR person to show the "Insight" to realise that such huge payoffs within the public sector was not a good idea and should be challenged.


    Perhaps we should be looking at the CIPD professional standards and asking what the role of HR should have been in this case - presumably to act in the best interests of the BBC organization and its shareholders.


    How did the actions of HR at the BBC live up to the CIPD Profession Map? Where was the 'Role Model' and 'Courage to Challenge' behaviours expected of all HR people as part of the CIPD standards?


    If the CIPD cares about the reputation of the HR profession then I would expect it to look into this after the row is over and identify what lessons can be learned - not stick its head in the sand. 


    It will be interesting to see how this affects the reputation of HR amongst the British public and the business management community - I hope that Keith is right and there will be no significant damage.


    This gets to me as I'm an expat who has no choice but to accommodate some local labour practices that are not right - I guess I expected a bit more from HR at the BBC.

  • Keith

    | 8887 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    10 Sep, 2013 07:30

    Alan

    I think this is turning more and more into a media story kept alive by the press/papers etc and that there is really relatively little "public outrage" or even interest in it outside a limited few. The Select Committee hearing yesterday was hardly an earth shattering event.

    So I still struggle to see this having any lasting impact on HR Management in general.I remain convinced its a BBC story not a HR story.

    As a CIPD member I believe you can complain about the professional behaviour of another member if you feel it justified? But would think carefully before I did this  as with any organisation (including your own) HR will always need to balance a number of factors. In the BBC case it was exiting a large number of senior execs ( for "political" reasons to reduce the Senior Management cost base quickly and with as little disruption a possible.)

    In these circumstances they erred on side of doing this by making it more attractive to go (after all would so many people jump quickly "just" for their contractual minimum - make it worth my while!). In 9/10 organisations  this action would go un noticed and un commented on and I am sure many HRDs have done similar.

    By the way you have every choice as to accommodating labour practices that are not right - you can leave. You choose to be an Expat and choose to make the compromise of putting up with dodgy labour practices. Thinks are rarely black and white.

    Keith

  • Steve Bridger

    | 6494 Posts

    Community Manager

    10 Sep, 2013 13:52

    Alan,

    I did see Peter Cheese make a few general 140-character comments on Twitter earlier today.

     

  • Alan Stewart

    | 9 Posts

    Chartered Member

    11 Sep, 2013 09:59

    Thanks Steve - I'll check out what Peter Cheese had to say later. 


    Maybe you are right Keith and its all just a storm in a tea cup but I thought there would have been some interest on this from the HR community (especially those in the public sector).


    From my understanding of the row, it wasn't just about sweetening the deal to facilitate the speedy departure of some managers - the overpayments were obscenely excessive and I believe some were being paid in lieu of their notice then working their notice which is surely not right.


    As for Keith's comments on expats - I choose not to respond! (as I'm too busy working on my UK job applications...;-)

  • Keith

    | 8887 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    11 Sep, 2013 11:21

    One persons sweeting is another persons obscene payments it just depends on where you stand and your views on life.

    But good luck with the UK job applications.(and my comments weren't referring to expats in general just your earlier statement :-) )

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