Personnel Today Awards 2008: Award for Best HR Strategy in Line with Business

This award is aimed at HR teams that can demonstrate they have achieved genuine strategic status within their organisations. Entries outlined the business strategy and the contribution of HR to meeting objectives. The judge assessed the HR team’s own strategy, how this was devised and implemented, the involvement of senior staff and what results have been achieved so far. Entrants explained how the team identified priorities and how HR measured the benefits.

Our sponsor

NorthgateArinso, sponsor of the Award for Nest HR StrategyNorthgateArinso is a leading global human resources software and services provider offering innovative HR business solutions to employers of all sizes, including blue chip companies, public sector organisations and many small to medium enterprises. It helps organisations optimise their HR service delivery through smarter process and more efficient technology, supporting key HR areas like workforce administration, payroll, benefits, recruitment, learning, and talent management.

Its highly skilled employees are dedicated to HR excellence through strategic business consulting, outsourcing services, systems integration and best-of-breed software solutions. 

The judge

Peter Reilly, director of HR research and consultancy at the Institute of Employment Studies (IES) joined the firm in 1995 as a senior research fellow after 16 years with Shell. At the IES, he leads the work on reward and performance management and on the HR function. He has co-authored several books, including Strategic HR: Building the Capability to Deliver.

The shortlisted teams

Big Lottery Fund
The team: HR
Number in team 18
Number of people in organisation 1,000

About the organisation

The Big Lottery Fund (BLF) is a grant-making organisation, responsible for giving out half the money raised by the National Lottery for good causes.

The challenge

Prior to 2006, BLF’s HR strategy was not aligned with business strategy and was seen as a remote and largely transactional service. There was a need to develop a joined-up business partnering approach to support the business and develop the capabilities of HR systems, processes and people.

What the organisation did

  • Spoke to senior managers to understand the business agenda and explore ways HR could support it
  • Produced a three-year HR strategy supported by annual HR business plans. Its key themes included: managing change by introducing business partners, building capacity by empowering managers and employees, and increasing efficiency through innovative IT solutions to deliver HR services
  • Implemented a organisation-wide competency framework, performance management system, suite of HR policies and procedures, online HR systems, management development and talent management procedures and competitive reward and recognition arrangements.

Benefits and achievements

  • Enhanced profile and status of HR function, with members of the team regularly attending senior management meetings and a board member has been given a specific HR brief
  • Significant progress in developing competence across all employees, with indicators of employee health increasing
  • Impressive employee opinion results, with 83% of employees saying BLF is a good place to work
  • Achieved IiP status and has been recognised as ‘one to watch’ in the 100 best companies.

The judge says: “When a business restructuring was required, HR was seen to be ill-equipped to deliver. Through close engagement with management, an HR strategy was developed that linked to business need. The corporate results dashboard is glowing green as a result.”


Ealing Homes Ltd
The team: HR
Number in team 9
Number of people in organisation 310

About the organisation

Ealing Homes Ltd manages tenanted and leasehold properties on behalf of Ealing Council.

The challenge

A new people strategy was needed to provide vision and direction to deliver the high-performing, motivated individuals Ealing Homes needed. The ‘People Strategy’ needed buy-in from all staff and unions, and alignment with the business plan and core objectives.

What the organisation did

  • Listened to staff and unions in confidential workshops and commissioned a consultancy to provide objective gap analysis
  • Developed an action plan and strategy taking into account staff survey results and IiP assessment
  • Held roadshows to tell staff what was learnt from the workshops, surveys, IiP assessment and the gap analysis
  • Developed new HR policies and improved performance management processes, including a competency framework
  • Got each director to sponsor one of the five strands of the strategy, with a six-monthly review to track progress.

Benefits and achievements

  • Sickness absence reduced by 50%, efficiency saving of £280,000 since 2005
  • Improved communication and engagement by establishing: Team Managers’ Forum, Joint Negotiation and Consultation Committee with the trade unions, staff roadshows and briefings from the chief executive
  • Maximised self-learning through resource library, online induction, e-learning packages, and organisational and individual learning and development plans aligned to business needs and evaluated by managers for return on investment
  • Increased overall customer satisfaction levels from 69% to 79%.

The judge says: “A new direction for the organisation was needed that required better leadership, communication and staff management. The HR function consulted thoroughly with stakeholders and delivered an action plan that has produced impressive business and people results, including a staggering 50% reduction in sickness absence.”


McDonald’s
The team: Reputation team
Number in team 10
Number of people in organisation 67,000

About the organisation

McDonald’s has more than 30,000 restaurants across the world serving 52 million people a day. The burger behemoth operates in 115 countries.

The challenge

McDonald’s needed to transform its reputation and reclaim the phrase ‘McJob’. Enhancing the brand would bring about improvements in recruitment, retention, customer and staff satisfaction and profitability.

What the organisation did

  • Friends and family contract – enabling two friends or family members to cover each other’s shifts
  • A hard-hitting campaign of press advertising and in-store posters highlighting their attractive benefits and signed off with the strapline ‘Not bad for a McJob’
  • Ourlounge.co.uk – a lifestyle, career and personal development website for staff, including the chance to gain GCSE-level literacy and numeracy qualifications through online learning
  • A public petition to change the dictionary definition of McJob
  • McTime – an online schedule enabling restaurant staff to check their shifts without having to contact the store directly
  • Designer uniforms to increase confidence and pride.

Benefits and achievements

  • Accreditation in early 2008 from the QCA granting McDonald’s UK awarding body status
  • Crew turnover reduced by 20% since reputation work began
  • 84% said their perception of McDonald’s had improved as a result of seeing the McJob campaign, with a 25% increase in those saying they would recommend it as an employer
  • 73% said they feel motivated in their job
  • The McDonald’s UK Brand Index Corporate Score rose 16 points (the biggest sector rise of the 1,500 companies monitored).

The judge says: “The company organised a well planned and executed response to the ‘McJob’ slur. HR was at the forefront of developing a new corporate reputation. An impressive list of initiatives has led to even more impressive results in transforming its internal and external profile.”
 

Pfizer UK Ltd
The team: HR
Number in team 29
Number of people in organisation 1,600

About the organisation

Pfizer is a leading pharmaceutical company, operating in 180 countries worldwide.

The challenge

A business transformation driven by internal and external pressures was needed to put the customer at the heart of Pfizer’s operating model. HR needed to lead a reorganisation to develop new ways of working with less resource and flatter structures that would deliver sustainable business growth.

What the organisation did

  • Developed an integrated business strategy, recognising people as the foundation to success and clarifying new business goals, priorities, plans and metrics
  • Introduced targeted leadership programmes to develop a talent pipeline in support of the model
  • Held a ‘One Pfizer’ launch conference to engage line managers and colleagues
  • Recruited 9% of workforce as behavioural champions to work closely with management and the board to change practices.

Benefits and achievements

  • Coaching programme for all line managers is on target for 95% completion
  • Latest revenue forecast is at 105% of budget
  • Embedded two of the new behaviours to the extent that 60% (behavioural index count) of all staff believe the behaviours have become part of ‘Ways of Working’.

The judge says: “A business transformation required cost cutting and a focus on the customer. Particular emphasis in HR’s response was given to job redesign, account management and behavioural change. The success of the programme is seen in the improved business results and in a ringing endorsement by the managing director.”


Thomson Reuters
The team: HR
Number in team: 500 (globally)
Number of people in organisation: 53,000

About the organisation

Thomson Reuters is one of the world’s largest sources of intelligence information for business and professionals. It employs staff in 93 countries. In 2007, the Thomson Corporation merged with Reuters Group to form Thomson Reuters.

The challenge

Supporting a global merger impacting nearly 53,000 staff based in 550 facilities in more than 100 countries was the challenge facing HR in 2007.

What the organisation did

  • Designed and started implementation of a new global HR function, integrating the two HR functions
  • Put in place mechanisms for monitoring staff morale through regular ‘pulse checks’
  • Hand-picked experienced Thomson and Reuters staff to lead 16 workstreams – for example, talent, recruitment, benefits
  • Ensured top team ownership of key processes – for example, the CEO wrote ‘guiding principles’ to inform line managers’ behaviour when appointing staff
  • Provided universal access to all jobs across Thomson Reuters by integrating recruitment systems and reinforcing Thomson Reuters as ‘one organisation’.

Benefits and achievements

  • Delivered a globally consistent redundancy process
  • Rolled out a single performance management system in time for mid-year reviews
  • Agreed and delivered a single compensation framework by day one
  • Helped appoint more than 500 people to new roles by day one.

The judge says: “The merger of these two famous names presented their respective HR teams with a real challenge. The systematic response with 16 workstreams to address both internal HR organisation and HR policy issues was impressive. The volume of deliverables over a short space of time was even more so.”

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