Cathy Callus wins award for HR manager of the year

Personnel
Today Awards 2001: The winner of the Hammond Suddards Edge award for HR manager
of the year was Cathy Callus, HR director of recruitment and support team for
Happy Computers.

What
she did

Cathy
Callus, HR director at the IT training provider, instituted a raft of
innovative HR policies intended to create an environment "where people
feel good about themselves and can perform at their best". Central to this
is a policy of "job ownership" where all staff are expected to become
self-managing within six months of joining. Working within clear guidelines and
with demanding targets they decide the best ways to meet these targets.

Callus
also set up a network of "co-ordinators", whose roles are more one of
coach than conventional manager, to support the employees in their efforts. And
should employees become dissatisfied with their roles, Callus and her team work
with them to find new positions that satisfy and challenge them, often in
entirely different parts of the company.

Another
major change was the introduction of a work-life balance programme where
job-sharing, working only in term time and seven-day fortnights are common.
Callus herself works a compressed four-day week, and believes it has made her
more productive.

Why
she did it

Callus’
rationale is that "people work best when they feel good about
themselves" and the policies she has introduced are to ensure the company’s
management is focused on the role. Also, IT is a highly competitive sector and
her aim was not to lose any skilled staff to competitors.

Benefits
and achievements

Last
year, employee turnover was 2.5 per cent compared with an industry average of 16
per cent. The amount saved in recruitment, induction and training costs is
estimated as equivalent to 60 per cent of the company’s profits for 2000. Full
360-degree appraisal has been in place for several years and Callus’
effectiveness can be seen in her ratings from staff. She has received maximum
scores from 87 per cent of respondents in upward appraisal and from 94 per cent
in her peer group.

Why
she won

"Cathy
Callus possesses hugely impressive leadership skills, with 360 appraisal scores
to die for. Cathy runs bi-monthly ‘happy check’ surveys to check morale,
regularly reallocates mundane tasks and has successfully instituted an open
salaries policy.
Judge: Richard Reeveshead, head of futures, The Industrial
Society

Other
Finalists

Dan
Boucher, Foyle Foods Group
Group training manager

Dan
Boucher has given greater responsibility for daily operations and production
planning to departmental managers and supervisors. He recommended that a
formerly exclusive supervisory qualification be transformed into a relevant and
more advanced practical and technical NVQ Level 3 qualification for employees
or plant operatives.

Paul
Kennedy, Rosenbluth International
Director of HR strategy

When
corporate travel company Rosenbluth calculated that the staff turnover rate of
25 per cent was costing the company £3.5m annually, Paul Kennedy, director of
HR strategy and associate development, introduced a range of initiatives
including family-friendly working, a career break scheme and enhanced maternity
leave to improve the company’s retention rate.

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