Personnel Today Awards 2009: HR Director of the Year Award

THE AWARD

This award is given to an individual HR director who can demonstrate outstanding leadership. Entries explained the contribution made both to their own team and to the organisation as a whole. Candidates demonstrated they had developed an effective HR team and presented evidence of their contribution to the business.

 

THE JUDGES

Helen Giles
HR director
Broadway Homelessness & Support; and
Managing director, Real People


 

 

Angela O’Connor
Chief people officer
National Policing Improvement Agency

 

 

THE SHORTLIST

Jayne Mee

Organisation: Barratt Developments
Number in team: 20
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 4,500

About the entrant

Jayne Mee is the group HR director at Barratt Developments, one of the country’s best-known housebuilders.

The challenge

Barratt had not had an HR director since 1989, so there was no HR strategy or team in place. Senior leaders had been promoted mainly through technical competence, and there was no real understanding of the value HR could bring to the business. Barratt also acquired Wilson Bowden in April 2007.

What the director did

  • Developed an HR strategy
  • Established a specialist HR team
  • Focused on a leadership development programme
  • Helped to integrate Wilson Bowden structurally and culturally within the business
  • Directed the business through major rationalisation and restructure.

Benefits and achievements

  • Delivery of three-year HR strategy in two years
  • Established a clear career pathway
  • Significant cultural shift in leadership behaviours
  • Introduced performance and development review process, achieving 96% participation in 2008
  • Developed a robust succession plan providing internal talent pipeline of 177 people
  • Rationalisation and restructure of the business in July
  • Implemented annual engagement survey in January 2008, improving company participation rate by 39% and engagement index by 50% after one year.

Judge’s comments

Helen Giles says: “When Jayne joined Barratt, she was the first HR director for almost a decade, and she built the function and strategy from scratch. She influenced the senior management team to put HR at the forefront of the agenda. Delivery of the strategy brought greatly improved leadership behaviours and has driven up engagement, despite a 35% reduction in staff numbers.”

 

Stephen Moir

Organisation: Cambridgeshire County Council
Number in team: 200
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 18,000

About the entrant

Stephen Moir is corporate director (people, policy and law) at Cambridgeshire County Council, a local authority that provides education, social care, regulatory and community public services to 590,000 people.

The challenge

When appointed in 2005, Moir inherited a newly centralised HR team that had previously worked in different parts of the council. The aim was to forge these teams into a single, cohesive function.

What the director did

  • Secured ‘achieving status’ for the council in respect of the equalities framework for local government
  • Directed the insourcing of the payroll function, improving the service and saving more than £200,000 in less than a year
  • Reorganised the delivery of the services he is responsible for to create the new and innovative function called corporate development, bringing together key activities relating to corporate strategy and policy and diversity
  • Supported CEO in restructuring senior management, reducing costs by more than £150,000 a year.

Benefits and achievements

  • A shared services partnership with Northamptonshire and Slough of various back-office functions has resulted in £1m savings for the council
  • HR team won PPMA Total Reward Award 2009
  • Moir listed as a Personnel Today Power Player for two years running.

Judge’s comments

Helen Giles says: “Stephen has set a new standard for HR in public services. His work has reaped significant savings through ground-breaking initiatives such as shared services, and has reduced sickness absence rates to a very impressive level against other public sector bodies.”

 

Fiona Morgan

Organisation: Lloydspharmacy
Number in team: 250
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 17,000

About the entrant

Fiona Morgan is HR and change director at Lloydspharmacy, a community pharmacy and retail chain.

The challenge

Due to major reforms in the pharmacy sector, the company had to completely redesign its business model to be more customer and service-focused. This meant communicating retail messages to clinical experts. On top of this, the HR team grew from 45 people to 250.

What the director did

  • Reduced regional areas from eight to five, and operational areas were aligned to NHS structures
  • Created retail-focused operations support managers
  • Introduced scorecards and led an on-selling process called Customer Best Care to help pharmacists become more customer-focused.

Benefits and achievements

  • Delivered cost-neutral programme with more jobs created than removed
  • Appointed to board of directors in just over a year
  • First board director to be responsible for HR and change
  • Lloydspharmacy ranked number two in UK Customer Satisfaction Index (non-food retail).

Judge’s comments

Helen Giles says: “Fiona’s work was absolutely critical to supporting the culture change needed for the company to re-design its business model with a customer focus in the face the challenges posed by partial de-regulation in the pharmacy sector.”

 

Tom Nicholls

Organisation: London & Quadrant Housing Trust
Number in team: 14
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 1,109

About the entrant

Tom Nicholls is HR group director at London & Quadrant Housing Trust (L&Q), one of 2,000 housing associations that work in the UK, with the main purpose of providing high-quality, affordable homes.

The challenge

The housing association went through its largest-ever restructure, which included replacing its original three regions with four new neighbourhoods to provide a more localised service to residents, while centralising departments such as revenue and development.

What the director did

  • Launched a leadership academy for 300 managers and team leaders
  • Helped create new organisational values of honesty, passion, responsibility and trust
  • Helped shift L&Q’s culture to one of empowerment and customer service excellence
  • Championed diversity by chairing L&Q’s equality and diversity working group and driving programmes to increase diversity at all levels of the organisation
  • Created programmes for residents to gain work experience at L&Q.

Benefits and achievements

  • HR team feels it truly contributes to the bottom line
  • L&Q listed in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For, the ‘Great Places to Work’ Top 50 UK companies, and Britain’s Top 100 Employers
  • L&Q now seen as a more approachable, vibrant organisation.

Judge’s comments

Angela O’Connor says: “I was impressed with the focus on values as the centrepiece for the transformational change being enacted in the organisation.”

 

Esther O’Halloran

Organisation: Paul UK
Number in team: 4
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 354

About the entrant

Esther O’Halloran is HR director at Paul UK, a well-established French bakery and patisserie founded in 1889, and brought to the UK in 2001.

The challenge

Not only did the HR director have to set up and lead the HR function from scratch, they had to deal with the problem of no brand awareness, high turnover and absence, basic training not aligned to development or pay, and limited legal HR compliance.

What the director did

  • Set up the HR function and hired a recruitment manager
  • Created a comprehensive HR toolkit, with clear policies and guidelines
  • Created a strong employer brand, portraying Paul UK as an employer of choice
  • Opened a resource centre to recruit and retain the best talent
  • Increased staff benefits
  • Developed and implemented an integrated HR strategy.

Benefits and achievements

  • Managers educated on HR processes, ensuring legal compliance
  • Increased retention to 48%, and reduced staff turnover by 30%
  • Reduced sickness absence to below 2%
  • Reduced use of recruitment agencies, thus cutting costs
  • Implemented succession planning process
  • Winner of six industry-recognised awards
  • Culture survey results show 90% of staff felt well trained, and 80% managers felt they had opportunities to develop, with 100% proud to work at Paul.

Judge’s comments

Helen Giles says: “Esther has taken a dynamic, hands-on approach to building an HR function, strong employer brand, and toolkits and training for managers. The results have been demonstrated through an impressive range of improved measures of staff engagement and retention, and customer satisfaction.”

 

Catherine Ward

Organisation: BMI Healthcare
Number in team:
7 (central team), 27 (HR operations)
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 15,000

About the entrant

Catherine Ward is HR director for private healthcare provider BMI Healthcare.

The challenge

BMI Healthcare wanted to become the UK’s leading private healthcare provider. But with poorly developed HR policies and processes, the new HR director would need to transform the function to meet the step change necessary in the requirements and expectations of the business.

What the director did

  • Redefined level and quality of HR support to the business by:
    – restructuring HR into a central team of experts, and HR business partner and HR administrator in each region; streamlining 18 HR processes; setting up an HR advice line for line managers and staff
  • Developed an integrated suite of HR initiatives and tools, including TUPE, consultation and managing change toolkits; a portfolio of HR policies and forms on the intranet; and a management training programme.

Benefits and achievements

  • HR function was repositioned within the company, with the HR director on the executive committee
  • Delivered integrated, complementary blue-chip solutions to support delivery of business targets
  • Twelve BMI hospitals in Nursing Times Top 100
  • Supported the acquisition and integration of 11 hospitals
  • Provided HR project management of major structural changes.

Judge’s comments

 Helen Giles says: “Catherine led on the introduction of new initiatives and tools across HR key areas to support the change necessary to realise BMI’s ambitious plans. Her work on performance management and professional development is particularly impressive.”

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