Branch Secretary :

Helen Giles - The Root of All Evil

Helen Giles has recently taken over as Executive Director of HR in St Mungo's Broadway following St Mungo's merger with Broadway earlier this year.



In 2010, Helen wrote an 'opinion piece' for Inside Housing magazine prior to implementing a suite of changes to Broadway’s staff. This restructuring, far from improving corporate performance, resulted in Broadway making a deficit every subsequent year.


The poor performance is not surprising, and speaks to a chronic lack of insight. This rears its head again in Helen's 'expert' prediction that our sector was about to shrink in the financial squeeze. In fact, housing associations have made year-on-year record surpluses, as Inside Housing reported in July 2014:


"London’s 15 largest housing associations have generated a mammoth combined surplus that has smashed the £1bn barrier for the first time. The £1bn surplus for the 15 landlords would be equivalent to more than half of the £1.9bn combined 2012/13 surplus of all 339 English associations that own more than 1,000 homes. See full article.


The Unite Housing Workers Branch condemns every aspect of Helen's article. It is abhorrent to suggest job losses are good for the sector because they inevitably result in increased homelessness, and thus present associations with good opportunities for growth. The notion that service users are unemployed because they are 'unemployable' is an insult. It displays a shocking lack of even the most basic compassion or understanding of the complex causes of drug and alcohol addiction, neglect, abuse, domestic violence, mental illness, isolation, and financial hardship, all of which in turn can cause homelessness.


Helen's track record at Broadway speaks for itself. But here we also have an HR Director who claims that "far too many" of the workers in our sector have been allowed to "get away with murder for years". This demonstrates the extent of Helen's contempt for our members' job security, and for their capabilities and commitment. 


Helen Giles' employers might do well to consider whether she is in fact worthy of a role within our sector - or whether she is the one that should be 'hoiked out'. Read for yourself below.


Root of all evil


From: Ask the Experts blog, Inside Housing


Posted by: Helen Giles




"The economy is a mess, the national debt out of control. If we want to know why we need to look no further than poor people management – the root of all the evil that has beset the commercial sector (think about the banks and the behaviour of their ‘leaders’) and the public and voluntary sectors, under-delivering at too high costs because they employ the wrong people and don’t manage them. Many social housing organisations and local authority housing departments have well-managed and accountable staff teams; but then again many don’t, and certainly not consistently across all their services. There are those that tolerate under performance on the part of at least half of their managers and staff.


Now the sector will be forced to cut jobs, big time. Many organisations will be sad to lose staff who have made a great contribution but really can’t be afforded. But at the same time they will see this as an opportunity to shed their worst performers, and thus achieve more effective organisations which can survive and grow despite swinging cuts in income.


Thousands of people are about to be hoiked out of work. Some will fail to pay their mortgages and rents, spiral into depression and substance misuse, and will swell the homeless population. Consequently there will be a need for more social housing and associated support services.


Therefore, the organisations which are about to shed their worst performers will need to keep on recruiting new people – as remaining staff leave and need to be replaced, and as the government is forced over time to pump back more and more funding to support people out of the dire straits into which many will fall.


So will their Boards and senior executives have learned anything from the wasteful mire into which they have dragged their organisations - and ultimately the country - through their poor selection practices and failure to properly implement performance management processes? Will they therefore be able to benefit from the ‘clean slate’ shortly to be on offer once they have sliced out those managers and staff who contribute nothing but trouble? I doubt it. They know who they need to get rid of, but track record to date suggests they will fail to get their heads around how those people got into post in the first place and were able to run amok for years before their employers were presented with a watertight business reason to get rid of them.


In the meantime, the government’s notion that all the people about to be flung out of public and voluntary services will miraculously become employed in and promote the growth of a newly booming commercial sector is laughable. Get real. A significant proportion are UNEMPLOYABLE because they’ve been allowed to get away with murder for years, unchallenged in the absence of firm and consistent management within their employer organisations and protected to the hilt by an employment law regime which has pretty much scotched the concept and practice of personal responsibility for anything in the workplace.


Helen Giles is a member of Inside Housing’s expert panel, focusing on human resources and staff development issues."


See the blog here.


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