For the first time, the overall winner of the Personnel Today Awards is a public sector organisation - Hertfordshire County Council (HCC).
People and property director Alan Warner and his team were ecstatic when they collected their gold trophy last week in front of more than 1,000 guests at the fifth Awards gala dinner.
HCC's brilliant work in becoming the first public sector body to outsource its entire recruitment service, saving up to £3m, outshone 12 private sector category winners to take the overall prize. The victors received £5,000 worth of team development training provided by Cranfield School of Management.
The overall judges were impressed by HCC's achievements given the complex political environment it is working in. It outsourced all recruitment and retention to Manpower, including advertising, management of temporary and permanent staff and redeployment.
"It is a fantastic achievement for a very adventurous enterprise, and it is wonderful to be recognised," said Warner.
HCC employs 25,000 staff and is the biggest employer in the area.
Special tributes were also paid to the 2003 HR Director of the Year, Beverley Shears, for taking such a tenacious approach to shifting the culture at the UK's biggest train operator, South West Trains. Shears transformed the industrial relations environment with a new HR strategy which focused on building, developing and maintaining relationships.
The judges, who chose an outright winner from all the category winners, were: William Coupar, director of the Involvement and Participation Association; Steve Harvey, director of people, profit and culture at Microsoft; Mary Mallet, president of the Society of Chief Personnel Officers in Local Government, and Colin Povey, chief executive of Carlsberg Tetley.