Ceridian Human Resources Director of the Year Award

Ceridian HR Director of the Year Award

THIS AWARD is for an individual human resources (HR) director who can demonstrate outstanding leadership. Entries explained the contribution the HR director has made both to their own team and to the organisation as a whole. Shortlisted candidates demonstrated that they have developed an effective HR team and presented evidence of their contribution to the business.

Globally, Ceridian serves more than 25 million staff across 110,000 businesses, and is one of the few providers delivering HR services locally and internationally. Ceridian serves one in eight UK corporate employees with HR, payroll and employee assistance programmes. Its mission is to provide outsourced HR solutions that maximise the value of people.

Wendy Dean, award judge
Wendy Dean is HR director at Fedex UK. She is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and has an HR career spanning more than 22 years, beginning at Royal Ordnance as a personnel officer. She has worked at Fedex for 16 years, during which time she has driven HR high up the strategic agenda. She was crowned HR Director of the Year at the Personnel Today Awards in 2006.

Sharon Benson, Trinity-Chiesi Pharmaceuticals
Number in team: 3
Number of employees the team is responsible for: 141

About the entrant Benson is HR director at Trinity-Chiesi Pharmaceuticals, the sales and marketing affiliate of Chiesi Farmaceutici, a European pharmaceutical company.

The challenge Heading up a small HR team with limited resources, Benson put her neck on the line and told the managing director and sales manager that if she was allocated a budget of £30,000 she would deliver results including increased performance levels and reduced employee turnover.

What the entrant did

  • HR was the driver behind developing a corporate website separate from the branding guidelines of parent company Chiesi Group, creating a brand identity in the UK that was sales and marketing focused. Launched at the company’s annual conference in 2006, this has been enhanced with new initiatives such as corporate wallpaper, screen savers and recruitment advertising.
  • Divisional directors ran workshops at the end of 2006 to develop their own divisional identity, while fully supporting the overall company ethos.
  • This would not have been possible if Benson had not secured management buy-in at an early stage.

Benefits and achievements

  • By improving morale and reducing staff turnover from 47% in 2005 to 25% in 2006, HR has already saved the company more than £700,000, which represents 2.9% of annual turnover.
  • A number of initiatives launched in the UK, including a structured annual people strategy, and exit interview and recruitment processes, have been adopted both in Italy and in affiliate companies across Europe.

The judge says: “Sharon has taken a pioneering approach to HR. She has enthusiasm, drive and the desire to succeed. Her passion has filtered through to everyone she is in contact with. She has limited resources and developed an action plan that has taken HR to the strategic level in her organisation.”

Sally Jacobson, London & Quadrant Housing Group
Number in team: 9
Number of employees the team is responsible for: 940

About the entrant Jacobson is group HR director at housing association London & Quadrant Housing Group (L&Q). She appeared in Personnel Today’s Top 40 Power Players in 2006 and 2007.

The challenge L&Q has grown substantially through a number of mergers and acquisitions. The challenge has been to maintain and evolve the employer brand, concentrating on people issues.

What the entrant did

  • HR is fully integrated, and members of the team are regularly invited to attend divisional conferences and work together with other managers.
  • Jacobson interviews every member of staff transferring through any merger, and works with senior managers at both organisations to manage any issues.
  • She has built a culture of genuine commitment to ‘our people’, recognising that their attitude and potential is the cornerstone of their success and that of L&Q. She works closely with directors and managers to align the ‘our people’ agenda with both business-as-usual and corporate objectives.

Benefits and achievements

  • Jacobson works with staff to identify solutions. This recently included the introduction of a low-cost voluntary online benefits service.
  • She has been able to reduce the budget spent on recruitment by £100,000.
  • Most initiatives she has brought to L&Q have been managed by the internal project team.
  • Jacobson’s efforts have led to L&Q winning numerous accolades, including two ‘Best Places to Work’ awards.
  • The results of staff and customer surveys have seen an increase in satisfaction, with 88% of staff saying they would recommend L&Q as a good company to work for.

The judge says: “Sally is obviously key to the management team and has managed to get 25% of business plan objectives devoted to ‘our people’. She has used her limited resources to achieve many new initiatives. One of the areas where she has had a significant impact is staff retention.”

John McCluskey, Cabot Financial (Europe)
Number in team: 13
Number of employees the team is responsible for: 330

About the entrant McCluskey is HR director at consumer debt purchaser Cabot Financial, where he has worked for eight years.

The challenge The company has grown rapidly in recent years, from 50 to more than 300 staff. McCluskey and his team needed to work hard to ensure employees stayed effective and motivated.

What the entrant did

McCluskey has introduced a phenomenal number of policies and practices, including:

  • Effective recruitment, retention and reward, attracting customer-focused people.
  • Flexible working patterns to ensure healthy work-life balance.
  • Comprehensive four-month induction programme.
  • Ongoing investment in external recognition for employees.
  • Staff consultation communication committee.
  • HR ‘drop-in’ meetings for all employees.

Benefits and achievements

  • HR is recognised as playing an integral part in the successful running of Cabot by supporting the company’s vision, through effective management of the employee lifecycle, ensuring overall business goals are met, and supporting daily business needs and overall business plan.
  • Absence rates are below 4%.
  • McCluskey’s individual contribution is huge: his role in the April 2006 re-financing amounted to an investment 490% greater than expected.

The judge says: “It is clear that John understands the value of people by recognising and rewarding through innovative incentives and work-life balance practices. He has introduced policies and procedures as a foundation in a fast-moving, rapidly-growing organisation. A clear inspirational leader.”

Nazir Moya, Transport for London
Number in team: 175
Number of employees the team is responsible for: 20,000

About the entrant Moya is head of HR and business operations at Group Transport Policy and Planning (TPP) within Transport for London (TfL), the company responsible for the capital’s transport system.

The challenge In 2003, TPP was in crisis. If the department did not start delivering on project outcomes it would either be restructured or disbanded. People had to re-apply for their jobs and there were some redundancies. Morale was low, and staff turnover was high.

What the entrant did

  • Any HR development interventions had to support the achievement of department targets, including developing the transport strategy for the Olympic bid.
  • Working with Performance Coaching International, Moya created a development programme to enable leaders to coach others, facilitate teams and mentor employees.

Benefits and achievements

  • Reduced costs and efficiencies by £4.1m through the renegotiation of third-party contracts.
  • A programme of lunchtime seminars and site visits was arranged to share information across TPP.
  • Training for managers was organised and tools made available to them and their staff. A graduate scheme is also being developed.
  • Turnover dropped to 9.09% in 2006-07, and attendance has risen to more than 98%. There have been a further six internal promotions, saving £105,000 in recruitment costs following the £126,000 saved in 2005. Ongoing conversions to change 24 consultant posts to permanent posts will save £1m.

The judge says: “Nazir clearly understands the concept of HR being a business partner. Her change programme is outstanding and her contribution to the business has been key in such a high-profile area. She is obviously supported by her peers and colleagues and has significantly used her people skills.”

Claire Walton, Formerly of Currys Supply Chain
Number in team: 14 during change programme, currently 8
Number of employees the team is responsible for: 1,600

About the entrant Currys is the largest consumer electronics and appliance retailer in the UK. Walton was HR director of Currys Supply Chain from September 2004 to September 2007 when she moved to outsourcing giant Ventura.

The challenge Walton has played a key role in communicating a new operating model for Currys Supply Chain, a major organisational change that has meant a number of site closures and redundancies.

What the entrant did

  • Walton decided to communicate the change programme to staff two years in advance of any closures or redundancies. She engaged and retained people through the change by introducing new initiatives, including: newsletters, monthly team focus sessions, vehicle purchase grants, Mindgym workouts, and driving lessons.
  • The most successful of all was the Currys Supply Chain story, which engages people with the Currys vision through the use of simple graphics and words in six chapters, helping people understand the strategy and how they can make a difference.
  • Walton gave her team individual project accountability, and offered coaching and mentoring.

Benefits and achievements

  • Currys Supply Chain’s new operating model has saved millions from the annual budget and halved staff turnover and absenteeism (actual figures are confidential). Turnover in particular is much lower than the retail/logistics industry average of 30%.
  • The changes have been achieved without industrial action, with few grievances and only a handful of tribunals in two years, despite almost 800 people being made redundant and 1,200 redeployed.

The judge says: “Claire has demonstrated an outstanding ability to implement change to an organisation while reducing employee turnover and absence by more than 50%. She also demonstrated how it is possible to maintain service during periods of change through leadership and motivation.”

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