Personnel Today Awards 2001 update

Short listed teams for The Hammond Suddards Edge Award for HR Manager of the
Year

This award is for the many HR managers throughout the country who not only
play a key part in developing the human resources of their organisation as a
whole but who also inspire and lead their colleagues in HR in a way that makes
a real difference to the performance of the function

Foyle Foods Group
Dan Boucher, group training manager

What he did

Foyle Food Group is a Northern Irish-based consortium of meat
processing plants and abattoirs which supplies meat to retailers including
Tesco and Marks & Spencer. Various strategic HR and economic challenges
forced group training, education and development manager Boucher to update and
revise the group’s development programmes. His aim was to give greater
responsibility for daily operations and production planning to departmental
managers and supervisors.

A member of the UK Meat Training Council’s steering group,
Boucher 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. The MTC and the
Qualification Curriculum Authority agreed and Foyle Food Group piloted the
scheme. Last year, 132 meat plant operators achieved NVQ Level 3 meat
technician qualifications and 406 operators achieved NVQ Level 2 meat processing
qualifications. Boucher also designed the group processes, which led to all
three Northern Ireland companies receiving IIP accreditation.

Why he did it

The ongoing BSE issue and the recent foot and mouth crisis
contributed to the halving of Foyle Food’s profits and forced a review of the
company’s strategic aims. Despite the challenges, the company still wanted
staff to feel valued, hence its commitment to training and development. Boucher
adds that the competence-based training and development reinforces the
directors’ and management’s commitment to lifelong learning and participation
in their own continuing professional development.

Benefits and achievements

Under Boucher’s leadership the HR team acquired the training
qualifications necessary to deliver the NVQ training and management development
curricula, researched and designed a corporate mission statement that
formulated Foyle’s central values and goals and implemented the integration of
all the infrastructures and training systems into the other company affiliates.
Labour turnover has been cut from 40 per cent to a group average of 2 per cent
this year, and accidents are down by 60 per cent.

The team

Number in team 66
Staff responsible for 750
Health and safety manager Kevin Tyre
Director Terry Acheson
Project manager David Knox
Personnel manager Jeffrey Boucher
Group training and development manager Dan Boucher

Happy Computers
Cathy Callus, HR director

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
"coordinators", 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. "I have found that I can now sit
down before nine and after five when no-one else is in the office and get my
work done," she says.

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.

The team

Number in team 3
Staff responsible for 40
Recruitment manager Debbie King
Personnel manager Suzy Cornwell
HR director Cathy Callus

Rosenbluth International
Paul Kennedy, director of HR strategy

What he did

Paul Kennedy, director of HR strategy and associate development
for the European department of the corporate travel company, introduced a range
of initiatives including family-friendly working, a career break scheme and
enhanced maternity leave to improve the company’s retention rate. To manage
these policies more effectively, he increased the size of the HR team and
brought the training department under the remit of HR.

He also encouraged the department to look at all HR policies
afresh and ensure they are in line with and support the organisation’s culture.
This extends to Kennedy and the team regularly visiting home workers to ensure
they don’t have any problems or feel isolated. "If you work at home then
it is very easy to feel detached from the company and not part of the
team," says Kennedy. The personal touch makes associates – as employees
are called – feel that the company cares."

Kennedy also set up a Lifestyle group, which carried out an
employee survey with the aim of further improving conditions at work. This led
to the introduction of activities such as family days, music in the office and
head massages.

Why he did it

Rosenbluth calculated that the staff turnover rate of 25 per
cent was costing the company £3.5m annually.

Benefits and achievements

Rosenbluth has halved employee turnover to 12 per cent. Morale
in the HR department has improved significantly and a variety of events are
staged in the Associate Appreciation Month such as barbeques and trips to the
zoo to reward staff for their hard work. Individual learning is actively
promoted and a "passport" approach combined with an exchange
programme means employees at all levels can work at different locations and
foreign countries in order to learn extra skills and exchange ideas and
experiences with colleagues. The company has also gained IIP accreditation.

The
team

Number in team 11
Staff responsible for 809
Director of HR strategy Paul Kennedy
UK HR manager Sue Lee
HR consultant Vicky Semmens
Learning and development manager Paloma Doyne

Judge’s comment

Richard Reeves, Industrial Society

Dan Boucher, Foyle Food Group

"Anybody who trains his company through the BSE-induced
downturn and reduces staff turnover from 40 per cent to 2 per cent is doing
more than a few things right."

Cathy Callus, Happy Computers

"Hugely impressive leadership skills, with 360 appraisal
scores to die for. Cathy runs bimonthly ‘happy check’ surveys to check morale,
regularly reallocates mundane tasks and has successfully instituted an open
salaries policy."

Paul Kennedy, Rosenbluth
International

"Nominated by his staff for the award – always a good sign
– Paul has improved maternity and family-friendly policies at RI. Even recent
Lottery winners have elected to stay, the ultimate staff rentention accolade!"

Hammond Suddards Edge boasts one
of the country’s leading employment law teams dealing with all aspects of
contentious and non-contentious employment law. A team of more than 50
dedicated employment lawyers operates from four offices in Leeds, Birmingham
and London

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