Case studies

MOD restructuring spurs new drive for HR professional recognition

"[Experience Assessment] was a great way helping our team to feel more valued by the organisation and help them realise what valuable skills they already had."

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has undergone major structural change in recent years. The HR Transactional function has been reorganised around a shared service centre model, with MOD staff able to phone a call centre for support on HR matters. When frontline call centre staff members are unable to deal with the inquiry, they are referred on to expert HR staff, HR Consultants, who are able to take on more complex cases.

Emma Shaw, SME (Subject Matter Expert) Senior Manager at the MOD, and the HR Consultancy team, handle complex casework in the areas of wellbeing, conduct and absence. Aside from these responsibilities, Emma also has a remit to ensure the team have completed appropriate training and development, and that they comply with best practice. When HR services of this nature are set up, she says, it is vital that staff get proper training to help them fulfil their new roles. She says: ‘It was really very important for us to have – and be seen to have – the right skills. Our senior management agreed with us that it was vital for our HR staff to become CIPD qualified to demonstrate their professionalism in support of the new services provided’.

This is why Emma began to talk to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) about putting nearly 40 of MOD staff through its Experience Assessment process. Experience Assessment involves an in-depth and rigorous assessment of HR expertise at work and provides a direct route to CIPD Chartered or Associate membership. The assessment is based on the CIPD’s HR Profession Map which sets the standards for excellence in HR.

Experience Assessment caters specifically for experienced HR professionals who do not hold a postgraduate CIPD qualification and who may have come into HR throughother business disciplines. This was a major attraction, Emma explains: ‘Our people definitely had the experience, but not the badges. Experience Assessment did seem avery good way to get the recognition without disrupting professional lives over a prolonged period’.

Experience Assessment certainly opens the door to many more people who value CIPD professional membership yet previously, would simply not have had time to pursue it. Emma describes the challenges: ‘Our HR work here is very, very busy. We work on behalf of 65,000 MOD civil servants and also their military line managers, and Experience Assessment provided an ideal, and perhaps the only practical, route to professional membership under such circumstances. It was a great way helping our teamto feel more valued by the organisation and help them realise what valuable skills they already had’.

The process begins by establishing quickly whether inpiduals are eligible for a full assessment and at what level. for those accepted, there are a series of rigorous assessments – including a self-assessment to reflect on the behaviours participants bring to their work; an impact report that details examples of work undertaken andthe difference made to the business as a result; a case study; a half day face-to-face professional discussion with an experienced CIPD assessor; and an invitation to thecandidate’s manager and peers to give feedback on their performance to date. Participants are able to work at their own pace around their busy schedule.

The diagnostic interview for Emma and her colleagues was a key part of proceedings: ‘What that brought out for us was a much clearer understanding of what inpidualHR Consultants need to do to develop their careers’. Although a shorter route to professional membership, Experience Assessment proved to be a rigorous procedure: ‘The professional discussions were particularly challenging for some. I think everyone found it to be intensive but ultimately very rewarding’.

Is there a clear difference to be seen in the new Experience Assessment graduates? Emma says: ‘Yes, I would definitely recommend this as a route to CIPD professional membership. Those who participated feel more confident that they are experts in their field. There is still change afoot at the MOD so it also gives our staff the confidence that they now have skills that will make them very employable in their future careers’.

’I would definitely recommend [Experience Assessment] as a route to CIPD professional membership. Those who participated feel more confident that they are experts in their field.’