Dear Colleagues

As you know I launched the #changingtheworldofwork (including Total Talent) debate recently via the MJ and the Newsletter and on 23 September presented it at the International Public Management Association for Human Resources annual conference in the United States. The whole essence of #changingtheworldofwork and Total Talent is to link with public sector reform but from a socio-economic perspective, thinking of everyone in our communities as human resources to draw upon rather than simply those employed in our organisations.

How interesting it was to learn from our colleagues from oversees and in particular to see that, unlike a few years ago when a PPMA President spoke at the conference and reported that the issues over there are the same, this time they are noticeably different!  The difference is mainly down to the economy and the differences in budgetary constraint on the public purse and in particular, local government. In other words, we are feeling the recession far more over here in Europe than over there in the US. Hardly news I know!

Whilst our international colleagues have responded to the world recession in a similar vein to us in terms of headcount reduction, back office efficiencies etc, many states are beginning to feel the green shoots of recovery and feel that the levels of cuts faced over the last few years are beginning to pass. Part of this interestingly, is down to their funding regimes which are quite different in that they are able to draw on the private sector through local taxation. So, those public services in states which are rich in oil, gas, minerals etc are able to gain contributions from such primary private sector industries.

Another noticeable difference is the level of confidence. Confidence of the Country (US and Canada), of the public sector and as individual HR and OD players in it. There is no doubt that our confidence in the UK has been severely shaken.

As we all know, a burning platform brings with it change and many of us in the public sector in the UK are now beginning to think that the answer might lie not just in better partnering with other organisations, but better partnering with our communities. We are now beginning to view community engagement as a way forward in helping to fill our budget gaps. Although those in the US and Canada do engage with their local communities (some states more than others), its not yet in the way and manner we are beginning to look at in terms of public service/community integration and delivery. As such our US and Canadian colleagues continue to be very much focused around their own organisations and the employees who work within them.

One last thing for me on our differences is this. Over here, whilst we have subtle local differences in pay, terms and conditions etc, one borough or shire council is pretty much the same across the UK due to us having a strong national framework. The health sector very much more so. Over in the US, each state seems to be noticeably different from another. Now perhaps that is something we will be moving to if you take on board the recent LGA consultation exercise on local bargaining. We will see!

With best wishes

Your President