Shortlisted team for Innovation in Recruitment and Retention: Personnel Today Awards 2000
The world of television is a precarious one. Companies like Granada Media, which makes Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Blind Date, to name but a few of its programmes, depend on winning commissions from the television channels that broadcast them. No commission, no programme and no work for the staff. Not only can jobs be created or destroyed on the strength of an idea, but even when there is work, it only lasts as long as it takes to make the programme.
Because of this, the industry depends on a huge amount of temporary talent. Granada Media, which includes Granada Television, Yorkshire Television, Tyne Tees and LWT, employs around 4,000 people, but seven out of 10 of these are on freelance or short-term contracts.
The transience of the work creates problems for the employer: how do you get good people to keep coming back to you when you can’t offer them a secure job? This is particularly a problem for the divisions based in the north. If people can’t find work locally they will move south to find it.
To deal with these problems Granada Media’s HR team has come up with a strategy to change people’s focus from their employer to their own careers. The career management scheme encourages people to see their own development as the best way of marketing themselves and continually gaining work in the business. At the same time it sells the Granada companies as a resource they can use to better their skills and build contacts while working on some of the most high profile programmes in television. The message is: “We can’t offer you a permanent job but we can help you develop your skills which will make you more marketable to all employers in the industry – including us.”
The project was conceived by HR director Philippa Hird, with head of training and development Felicity Bridgewater taking over as project leader. Outside consultant Shiona Llewellyn, an expert on career development and the television industry, worked with Granada to draft the career management guide that would be at the centre of the project. Managers, staff groups and the unions were sent advanced copies to comment on.
The guide was published in August 1999. The team knew staff would not be receptive if it was foisted on them by the company. Instead it informed staff about its availability by letter. Within two weeks 1,500 requests had been received.
The team says the transience of its workforce makes it difficult to assess the impact of the project, which also includes career management workshops, but the popularity of the guide and the positive feedback from individuals suggest it has been a success. Parent company, the Granada Group, has asked to adapt if for use in other companies.
The guide is now given out at induction and there are plans to put it on the company intranet. In the long term the company expects to see fewer people struggling to find work when their contract runs out and an increase in the numbers coming back to Granada Media in more senior positions.
Company fact file
Team Granada Media
Team Leader Felicity Bridgewater, head of training and development
Number in HR team seven people
Number of employees responsible for 4,500 staff, 70 per cent on short-term or freelance contracts)
Main achievements setting up a career management programme that encourages staff to keep coming back to Granada while also developing their careers elsewhere
Priorities for next 12 months putting the career guide on-line, making it easier to access and update
Judge’s Comment “Career management is the way of the future and this is a unique and well-executed, user-friendly attempt. There is a lot of enthusiasm for the project both among the team and the staff. Career management is high-risk, high-reward. It increases people’s self-awareness and unless the proposition from the employer matches their expectations it will create a burden. Having said that, it is clearly appropriate for this industry. Consultant Shiona Llewellyn’s knowledge of the industry has been essential to this project and she has been brought in as an integral member of the team, which works well. This is a living, evolving project that it is adding to all the time”
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