Personnel Today Awards 2009: Award for Best HR Strategy In Line with Business

This award aims to recognise HR teams that can demonstrate they have achieved genuine strategic status within their organisations. Entries explained the business strategy and the contribution of HR to meeting objectives. The judges looked at the HR team’s own strategy, how this was devised and implemented, the involvement of senior staff, and the results that have so far been achieved.

The sponsor

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THE JUDGES

Nick Holley
Executive director
HR Centre of Excellence
Henley Business School

 

 

 

Jane Saunders
Managing partner
Orion Partners

 

 

 

Olympic Delivery Authority

The team: HR
Number in team: 10
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 250, plus project workforce of 140

About the organisation

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) is responsible for developing and constructing the venues and infrastructure for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. The challenge for HR was to develop a framework in which to manage the unique organisational and people issues it faces.

What the organisation did

  • Actively consulted staff on the draft strategy, along with key stakeholders
  • Communicated via all-staff briefing, through the employee forum and team meetings
  • Strategy fully endorsed by executive management board and chairman
  • HR team worked with business areas to ensure strategy was adapted, utilised effectively and embedded within these areas
  • Reviewed progress against the people strategy and published first annual review in 2009.

Benefits and achievements

  • Workforce planning efficiency savings of £3m
  • Representation of women and disabled people now above construction sector benchmark
  • Employee engagement score of 92% in 2009, up from 83% in 2007
  • Sickness absence levels of 2.7 days per employee in 2008-09, well below average
  • All directors rated HR as either ‘excellent’ or ‘good’.

Judge’s comments

Nick Holley says: “The ODA scored strongly on the link to core business drivers, and an integrated plan was developed with wide involvement that delivered major efficiency savings.”

 

The Learning Trust

The team: HR
Number in team: 34
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 1,000 staff and 3,000 teachers and school-based staff.

About the organisation

The Learning Trust is a not-for-profit company that runs education services for the London Borough of Hackney. It is responsible for more than 27,000 children in 74 schools.

What the organisation did

  • HR was tasked with developing a continuous improvement plan
  • Identified four key areas requiring improvement and devised a three-year people management strategy
  • Communicated the strategy to staff via presentations, a conference and online
  • The strategy was endorsed by senior management, and the head of HR is now on the senior leadership team
  • Launched a wellbeing strategy and new training programmes.

Benefits and achievements

  • Staff turnover reduced from 25% in 2007 to less than 10%
  • Spend on temps fell, with cumulative savings of £300,000
  • 97% of staff appraised during the year, compared with 50% before the plan
  • More schools signed up to use the trust’s services
  • Number of tribunal cases reduced, saving £104,000.

Judge’s comments

Nick Holley says: “The Learning Trust scored well for the strong link to the business and a focus on communications that resulted in ownership beyond HR.”

 

Croydon Council

The team: HR and organisational development
Number in team: 75
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 10,000

About the organisation

With a large workforce, including teachers in schools, Croydon Council is the largest employer in the borough, spending more than £900m per year. Four years ago the council’s HR service was struggling; decentralised and with no overall strategy.

What the organisation did

  • Developed a people strategy, aligned with the council’s community strategy and corporate plan
  • Introduced a new leadership academy to develop talent
  • Workforce planning was focused on new ways of working for the integrated workforce of council, police and health staff
  • Strategy monitored through annual plans.

Benefits and achievements

  • Croydon is now the best-performing London council for reducing sickness absence – down to 5.9 working days in 2008
  • The council went from 68th to 6th in the human capital best value indicator for local authorities
  • The annual government inspection highlighted rapid improvement and increased productivity
  • More than £1.6m was saved in recruitment advertising and agency contracts.

Judge’s comments

Jane Saunders says: “The HR team has developed and implemented a people strategy that has had a substantial impact on the performance of the organisation. A clear plan, well articulated and effectively monitored, has transformed key components of the council’s delivery and achieved significant financial benefits.”

 

HM Prison Service

The team: HR
Number in team: 80, plus 132 business partners
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 52,000

About the organisation

HM Prison Service is tasked with managing most of the prisons in the UK. Its new HR strategy, launched in 2007, aims to deliver more effective working practices among its employees.

What the organisation did

  • Replaced large prison-based teams with a dedicated shared service centre. HR business partners were recruited to implement change
  • Sold the business case – that it would reduce costs by £148m over five years – to the board
  • Set challenging goals to improve diversity, restructure training, increase staff engagement, develop leaders, and introduce qualifications for officers.

Benefits and achievements

  • Black and minority ethnic representation has risen from 3.2% in 1999 to 6.32% in February 2009
  • New training plans were created for 600 staff with increased training requests
  • Staff survey revealed 75% were satisfied with their jobs, 72% felt they were treated with respect, and 88% were clear about what was expected of them
  • 2,000 candidates have taken a new NVQ.

Judge’s comments

Jane Saunders says: “The people strategy has enabled the organisation to focus on a number of key people priorities that are helping to drive significant change. The HR function itself has been radically reshaped, allowing it to tackle these people priorities and achieve impressive results.”

 

Lancashire County Council

The team: HR consultancy, partnerships development team
Number in team: 14
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 44,000

About the organisation

The council provides a wide range of public services directly and through partnerships to citizens. It recognised the timebomb of a ‘demographically imbalanced’ workforce, propped up by costly agency staff. The council wanted to target different types of jobseekers and connect them with the authority.

What the organisation did

  • Developed a public sector work trial scheme called WorkStart, creating a route back to work for long-term welfare recipients, reducing agency costs
  • Re-engineered the apprenticeship programme to address demographic trends
  • Founded Future Horizons, which gives young people qualifications, career advice and a work placement.

Benefits and achievements

  • Developed a ‘grow your own’ culture by recruiting apprentices, saving £120,000 a year
  • Arranged placements for 60 people through WorkStart, with 43 securing employment
  • New workforce models have contributed towards £1m in savings on agency staff
  • 18 young people completed pilot Future Horizons programme, with 14 going on to secure an apprenticeship with the council.

Judge’s comments

Jane Saunders says: “The team at Lancashire took a very pragmatic approach, and really got under the skin of some of the key challenges. The creativity and flair in building buy-in to the solution with limited resources was very impressive.”

 

Magnox North

The team: HR
Number in team: 8
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 2,166

About the organisation

Magnox North is responsible for the safe delivery of nuclear power operations and decommissioning programmes on five sites across Britain. Its challenge is to maintain and develop a skilled and flexible workforce.

What the organisation did

  • Set up a taskforce consisting of a core team and site representatives
  • Linked learning, performance and leadership, shifting the culture from one of training to learning, and establishing a performance-based culture
  • Clearly identified the influencing strategic decisions and factors for change.

Benefits and achievements

  • Total cost benefits of approximately £2.7m through efficiency gains and manpower savings
  • Resourcing policy and outsourcing protocol was agreed and implemented with the unions
  • Development of business-wide learning solutions including a leadership development framework and common induction to enable resource mobility across the business
  • The HR project manager is now integral to the development of IT strategy and resources
  • New strategy is fully aligned with Magnox North’s business improvement plan, and has helped to identify priority areas.

Judge’s comments

Nick Holley says: “The submission had a clear link between people issues and business challenges, strong governance and stakeholder involvement, and holistic solutions that have made a real difference, resulting in HR repositioning itself in the business.”

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