Happy New Year to PPMA members and friends
Between Christmas and the New Year I spent a couple of days in Harrogate. The intention was to follow a Christmas full of the usual excesses with a couple of days walking through the invigorating Yorkshire countryside. Of course the rain continued to fall and the wind blew and after one day of wet walking, I decided that we needed a day sight-seeing in the dry. And so we went along to Salt’s Mill in Saltaire, near Bradford, a converted Victorian Mill, now an art gallery, shopping and restaurant complex with an extraordinary history.
The Mill opened in 1853 as part of the industrial village of Saltaire. Built by the industrialist, Titus Salt, Saltaire provided high quality housing for the mill workers, public buildings which gave opportunities for the workers to do “worthwhile” things, schools and open spaces. It is an exceptional example of a model village, demonstrating the vision and philanthropic passion of Salt.
The Mill declined as a commercial venture and was closed in 1986, but was bought by a local entrepreneur, clothing company owner, Jonathan Silver. He had the vision that the vast machine floors of the Mill would make a perfect venue for displaying the works of local artist, David Hockney. The distinctive paintings, photographs, opera sets and posters designed by Hockney, provide a great backdrop to the quirky shops and restaurants that, together with office accommodation for local businesses, make up the thriving enterprise that is Salts Mill.
Now I relate this story not because I have become an employee of the Yorkshire Tourist Board, but because I found two inspiring stories in one place, stories which demonstrate how with vision and determination people can break the norm and achieve real change. As I look forward to 2013, I think we need to keep faith with the concern for community and the workforce shown by Titus Salt, but show the same imagination as Jonathan Silver, to adapt our great institutions to reflect the new circumstances that we face.
I have to say that I look forward with some trepidation to 2013. It will no doubt be a difficult year. Budgets must be reduced and there will almost always be a human cost as a consequence. I also though feel very positive about the part the PPMA can play in supporting the public sector HR community through change.
The PPMA itself has had to change, building on our past successes, but reflecting too the new environment in which we are operating. We have needed to be clearer about what we offer to our members and our sponsors and how we can support people in addressing their day-to-day challenges at work. I believe, through our business plan, we have done this and I also see evidence that we have used social media effectively to raise our profile and get our viewpoint across. Look out for the changes we are making to our website, which will enable us to better promote best practice and stimulate debate on key issues.
What particular excites me about the PPMA in 2013 is the range of research which is currently underway. Here are some of the themes:
– The public sector workforce of the future
– How do we attract talent into the public sector?
– What is the strategic narrative in the public sector, around which we can build engagement?
– What is the basis of the future deal for staff? What will be affordable, but motivational?
– How can we bring more imagination in our approach to reward in these financially constrained times?
– How can HR itself provide the leadership to drive future changes?
– The continuing diversity challenge?
When this research is concluded, our members will have access to some great analysis around our biggest challenges and practical tools to enable them to be tackled.
The Principal Officers and the Policy Board of the PPMA are committed to ensuring that our organisation is focused on its membership. We believe that we can best serve that membership through seeking to be the voice of the public sector HR community, having influence amongst decision makers, providing access to examples of best practice and promoting opportunities for collaboration. We have made progress, but there is more to do and we look to you to tell us where we can do better.
To maximise our potential as an organisation, we need our members to engage with us, whether by attending the Annual Seminar in April, taking part in regional or national events, telling us what you think, through our website, Facebook page or LinkedIn group, sharing best practice or helping us grow the membership, across public services.
Jonathan Silver, the regenerator of Salts Mill, sadly dies at the age of 47. Those who wrote in memory of him spoke of his dynamism, enthusiasm, instinct, commercial nous, romantic whimsy and the way he found his way around obstacles. These are qualities that we will certainly need to help continue to grow the PPMA and within our own organisations. If, like me you need a tonic as we look forward to the new year, then I would recommend Salts Mill the embodiment of those qualities.
I would like to wish our members, our sponsors and our other friends, a very happy and successful 2013.