The strategic role of the human resource function

Chapter 4 case Study 1: The strategic role of the human resource function

The strategic role of HR at Camden Council

Camden Borough Council is the local authority for the London Borough of Camden in Greater London, UK, and is one of thirty-two borough councils in London. It provides a range of services to the residents of Camden that include housing, social services, and education. There is a single point of contact for all HR matters (‘HR Direct’). Former HR Director Mike Cooke viewed his role as championing organizational development. He focused on improving employee performance through changing the culture of this public sector organization and he stuck to this approach when moving posts to become director of housing and adult social care. The council needs to save £85 million per annum and so far has saved approximately 50% of this target through service-by-service reviews, which has involved encouraging department heads to think about their operations in a completely different way. Therefore, savings are being made by encouraging managers to look at new ways of working rather than just making budget cuts based in cost reduction. For instance, the meals-on-wheels service, whereby preheated meals were delivered to the elderly, has been replaced by a system in which residents order frozen meals for a whole week. In December 2011 Mike Cooke was appointed CEO of the council. As of May 2012, the council is recruiting for a Senior HR Business Partner who has skills in strategic thinking and leadership, organizational awareness and judgement, and is able to work with teams, build support, and drive improvement.

Activity

  1. To what extent does this case illustrate a strategic role for HR?
  2. To what extent are the role of HR and/or the dissemination of good HR practice dependent on the personal competencies of key stakeholders inside and outside the HR function?
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