Earlier this year I wrote about our HR & Employment Support Service six months after launch. Now, almost a year after launch, I have been reflecting on how the service can make a more long-term impact within the sector.

As well as supporting our voluntary sector colleagues with their HR and Employment queries, one of the aims of the service is to increase HR awareness and skills in the sector overall.

We know some organisations already have an HR team or access to HR support in place, however many don’t. There will be many individuals whose role may have started as Office Manager, then they end up being responsible for HR, along with their many other activities. With this in mind, I thought about how the service could help in addition to the support already in place.

After talking to people – some who come to us with their HR queries, others at various meetings or events – I realised there was an appetite from individuals who wanted to improve their HR skills. Throughout my career I have found that people tend to prefer resolving issues themselves, if they can, without having to rely on others. They just need to know how.

We are very proud to have launched a service where people can get professional HR support and guidance without having to spend time searching online for answers that are difficult to find – being able to access our service saves time and resources. I get the feeling, however, that where HR operations have defaulted to an individual, that individual would like to have the awareness and skills to be able tackle issues themselves, to resolve situations before they escalate.

Being the person tasked with resolving these kinds of issues can also be isolating. I have always found it helpful to have a network of people I can speak to and chat through issues or situations. The ability to share with someone in a similar situation really does help to alleviate pressure.  

Reflecting on all of these points, we decided to develop a programme to give individuals who find themselves with responsibility for HR, whether as an employee or trustee, the opportunity to gain basic HR awareness, understanding, knowledge and skills, that are voluntary sector focused.

The benefits for participants will be gaining an understanding of and practical skills in people management, the employer/employee relationship and how HR data can help with business cases or funding applications. Key elements will be having somewhere safe to work through real life issues and the opportunity to develop a network of support from within the sector, with like-minded individuals.

Giving people at the heart of small and medium voluntary organisations the opportunity to learn and gain skills which will be of benefit for the longer term is certainly something that would make me proud as it will also benefit our sector as a whole.

If you are interested in being part of our pilot programme, please get in touch with me at Lindsay.macpherson@scvo.scot – I would love to hear from you.