The Home Office (HO) HR function includes 620 dedicated people, many with a HR professional anchor, working alongside colleagues from health and safety, learning and development, programme management and many more.
I'm proud and ecstatic about the Home Office achieving People Development Partner status. It signals the organisation's commitment to professionalisation which we have done in a customer focused way, using the CIPD's externally validated People Impact Tool.
Jill Hatcher - Chief People Officer, Home Office
CIPD People Development Partner really helped us pull everything together and delivered a coherence. It's a mechanism through which we can reflect on our current state and desired future state against an external benchmark. It enables us to really consolidate the journey we're on.
Alison Clifton - Head of Resourcing, Home Office
The Home Office (HO) primary mission is to keep UK citizens safe and borders secure. It leads on immigration and passports, drugs policy, crime policy, counterextremism and counterterrorism, and works to ensure visible, responsive and accountable policing in the UK.
Challenges and objectives
The organisation is undergoing a major transformation programme designed to bring greater clarity to roles and responsibilities. This includes the creation of more integrated teams, sharpening the focus on customers and service delivery, and heightening inclusivity.
'A significant element of the HO transformation is about People and Culture, spaces where HR has greatest impact,' says Alison Clifton, Head of Resourcing at HO. 'It’s hugely timely that we are growing the capability of our HR people when more is being asked of us year on year.'
Jill Hatcher, Chief People Officer at HO, echoes the sentiment. 'The commitment to continuing our professional development aligns with what the business needs. That is critical and a fantastic opportunity for both our people and the organisation as a whole.'
Although the HO was already working hard to professionalise its HR operation, a focus on achieving CIPD PDP (People Development Partner) status in a relatively short timeframe allowed the team to bring together a variety of different HR capability workstreams and initiatives.
Implementing CIPD’s People Impact (PI) Tool
Whilst the HR function was getting good feedback from the organisation at a strategic level, some other feedback mechanisms tended to generate responses based only on the most recent interaction people had with HR rather than providing big picture insights. With that in mind, HO decided to use the CIPD’s People Impact (PI) Tool - an e-enabled survey that provides more comprehensive information in the context of external professional standards.
'The launch of the PI tool was quite timely because we were looking for something practical, that would help us get an overview of what the HR function looks like from a business and HR perspective,' says Abigail Ojo, HR Capability Lead at HO. 'Based on our experience, other government departments and Civil Service HR have looked at the tool as well -putting that tool out there was a great decision.'
Virtual HR Business Partnering
The COVID 19 pandemic called for smart pivoting to virtual learning solutions, particularly with the HR Business Partner programme - an initiative, which is designed to give organisations all they need to develop business credibility and agility, the skills to build effective relationships across their organisation and, the knowledge to prove their HR function’s worth in a constantly changing business world.
All participants, whether newcomers to business partnering or established in the role, achieved a lot from the programme. However, evidence suggested the programme better suited those who had not recently been through a HR qualification.
In particular, the HO found the 'commercial drive' module of the programme helped participants articulate the value they are bringing to the business and the emphasis on measuring the impact of different HR interventions.
Becoming a PDP has reinforced the importance of the CIPD’s professional standards and the commitment to HR as a profession. Closer alignment with the Profession Map has broadened horizons and framed development conversations, with more people open to moving beyond functional silos.
The PI tool generated a very high response rate of above 60% and its findings have provided a baseline which future research will be compared against.The tool is likely to be used again as part of the PDP revalidation process that’s necessary every two years, and to help the HO team understand whether they have achieved a return on investment on their HR interventions.
The initial PI tool survey identified several areas to focus on including culture and behaviour, learning and development and commercial drive, which will be HR priorities going forward.
'We are able to clearly articulate the "why", having done that aligning to the transformation programme,' said Jill. 'We’ve moved away from doing a little bit here and a little bit there – having that focus and the framework has enabled us to have the impact that we want to see.'
Discussions are under way on what priority area solutions the CIPD can offer, alongside those available through the rest of the Civil Service to give HO 'the best of both worlds.'
HO are looking to increase the amount of HR and L&D apprenticeships and intend to boost uptake in their internal buddying system involving people who have joined the profession through this route.
'We are delighted to have achieved PDP status, it’s a testimony to the commitment we have to the professional development of our people,' concludes Alison. 'What has been invaluable for us is the ability to compare against a forward-facing external benchmark. It broadened our horizons in terms of what success is in delivering HR and it's particularly valuable to us to be able to do that in partnership with CIPD.'
To find out more about becoming a CIPD People Development Partner, get in touch with the team by emailing ClientDevelopmentEnquiry@cipd.co.uk