A new “reform” of human resources in the guise of re-centralisation

DG HR has decided to launch a new reform – although it does not call it that – of the HR function which consists in the re-centralisation of services, while ten years ago the re­verse exercise had been decided.

Even if the intention is laudable, its implementation raises questions.

However, R&D endorses and supports the political direction of this exercise. Indeed, R&D denounced for a long time the perverse logic and the disastrous effects of DGs’ silos that have destroyed the sense of identity and esprit de corps within the institution and the European civil service.

R&D also denounced the geometrically variable application of the Staff Regulations and their implementing rules, with each DG making up its own rules and DG HR being unable to ensure coordination and governance at the central level. However, R&D reiterates the importance of HR’s proximity mission within services, which is and remains essential.

The problem is that this new reform is initiated without any serious analysis of the situation having been undertaken. It moves ahead in the absence of prior social dialogue and without answers to the many questions that colleagues have in their minds.

A purely quantitative approach

The objective of efficiencies and synergies to reach is estimated at a ratio of 1:40 (1 person handles 40 colleagues) whereas currently this ratio is approximately 1:29 on ave­rage, if you count the DG HR and PMO, for example (but can go up to 1:60 in some DG!).

Consequence: a reduction of 380 full-time equivalents by 2019.

Currently 2,200 colleagues are working in HR.

To do this, business processes will be reorganised. Those which mainly carry out uniform tasks will be fully centralised. Account management units (AMC), 8 in total, will be created within DG HR to provide a group of DGs (8 maximum) administrative support in the daily management of HR. Each DG will have an “operational correspondent” func­tion in terms of human resources (with 1-8 full time equivalents) for strategic issues.

How are the concerned 2200 posts distributed? 55% in the “corporate HR” [HR (553 posts), PMO (455) EPSO (139), CDP-OSP (47)], 34% in “local HR” and 11% in the “corporate equivalent” (eg Ombudsman Service in SG, Trainees Office in DG EAC).

Always do more with less

Do you find there are too many people in the PMO now with the pressure that these colleagues suffer in these services? Do you think that the half dozen people working with the Ombudsman is exaggerated? The answer is clearly no!

Regarding HR services in the DG, they represent 34% of the 2,200 posts, i.e. 748 full-time equivalents.

The reform aims to eliminate 380 posts, i.e. more than 50% of HR staff reduction in the DG.

Dehumanised services

To compensate for reduced resources, new services with standard replies are created [“e-SEP” (e?Single Entry Point)]. A new call-centre?

The disastrous experience of the PMO, with all the difficulties that we have in contacting it and obtaining clear and fast answers, will recur in other areas.

What quality of service can be guaranteed?

The distance between the “treatment centre” and the person asking the question will result in not taking people’s concerns into account properly  and in the dehumanisation of human resources.

Why also are AMC a priori of identical size with little consideration of local conditions? Would it not be better to compose AMC with different numbers of DG, based on real affinities and adapted to the needs? (not just based on the location as Luxembourg or Ispra). This exaggerated standardisation will not take the human aspect of the matter into account…

• DG HR plays it by ear

We must concede to DG HR that it constantly evolves in its thinking. But she plays it by ear. In late February, the document prepared by the 22 Directors-General (actually 7 attended all the meetings), AMC consisted of 23 areas (recruitment, career guidance, training, ethics, promotion, …). In late April, there are already no more than 10.

In mid-April, DG HR launched a programme of workshops with HR units to try to understand how and by whom decisions should be taken. This work should be done well in advance and already the schedule is questioned.

But the pilot projects have started! First in DG HR, later, in autumn 2016 and already even in July, in one “family of DGs”, the other DGs  will follow early in 2017 on the basis of a call for expressions of interest to be launched in HR units in Autumn 2016 to recruit future AMC’s staff (“will be taken those who are motivated, competent, and who “work hard”…Does this mean that the others are lazy?). This means that later this year, those selected rub shoulders in the corridors of HR units those that will not. Beautiful Christ­mas atmosphere in perspective …

• How not to create demotivation in colleagues?

For the first time, a chapter is devoted to “risk management” in the project, to prevent the effects of a lack of motivation of colleagues (understand: if DG HR has planned this demotivation that means that it is aware of the potential human damage!). Guarantees are obtained: neither forced change nor automatic creation of an “office”, nor long term outsourcing of services, nor, probably, creation of open spaces.

Too many questions remain unanswered.

What will be the near future of hundreds of colleagues, especially colleagues in category AST and AC that will be the main affected by the reform?

Who are the people concerned by the elimination of 380 posts?

How will be Heads of Unit and other managers be selected? And what about mobility?

What are the HR functions that will remain in the DGs?

Where will the AMC  be housed and what will be the working conditions?

What about working time arrangements? For example, could colleagues that telework 2 days per week in a DG be denied that opportunity because of the reorganization?

For all these reasons, R&D requires a strict control of the entire process through a constant and vigilant dialogue.

R&D invites colleagues of local HR units to submit their questions and share their concerns.

R&D requires a constant accompaniment of HR staff concerned, listening meetings and appropriate training.

R&D requires a high level of service quality, a real human relationship with those responsible for human resources, a true con­tact to answer any questions from colleagues regarding all aspects of human resources.