Three in five public sector organisations expect to downsize

Public sector cost cutting continues, but must be countered by upskilling staff

Almost three in five (58%) public sector organisations expect their workforce to decrease in size over the next two to three years, according to Roffey Park research.

Its annual Management Agenda survey found that 30% of not-for-profit firms, 18% in private services, and 18% of businesses in production and manufacturing, are also anticipating a reduction in staff numbers.

Michael Jenkins, chief executive of Roffey Park, said that this continues a trend of recent years. “It seems that cost cutting in the public sector is continuing unabated,” he told HR magazine. “It’s not really going away, but it is slowing. The organisations [planning on making cuts] need to be considering how they will manage this change on a personal and emotional level.”

Three-quarters (75%) of public sector organisations were planning to redesign some of their processes or systems in order to meet the challenges of the current political and economic environment, and 64% plan to implement new technology. Additionally, 47% of organisations said they were either not very successful or not successful at all when it came to developing and appointing successors to key roles.

Jenkins suggested organisations reconsider how they upskill staff for the future. “They should continue providing learning and development opportunities,” he said, even when this may seem too costly.

“For example, a legal firm may be talking through a case with a client, which would usually be conducted by a senior member of staff,” said Jenkins. “They could instead allow a more junior member of staff to have that experience. It may seem counter-intuitive, as they are likely to think the best person to do this would be the one with the most experience.

“It’s about organisations asking what their priorities are in the short-, medium- and long-terms,” Jenkins added.

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