As head of HR management at Morgan Professional Services (MPS), I've been responsible for introducing a new benefits system and a new structure for HR.
MPS was launched in the summer of 2007, following an acquisition. The HR function I inherited had been run bureaucratically and was devolved across a number of business units.
My first task was to give the function a structure that could support a new business. I appointed an HR assistant, a recruitment co-ordinator and a learning and development manager - together we established a longer-term vision for the function.
First, we agreed what HR could contribute to the company, and how HR could 'get itself fit'. Next, we completed a review of the current benefits that our people were receiving compared to what our new sister companies were offering. We then gradually enhanced our employee benefits over a 12-month period.
We increased basic annual leave for all employees (increasing with service) and introduced an employee assistance programme. We also increased the payment awards for those achieving a long-service milestone, introduced an employee purchase scheme - offering discounts on many purchases - and arranged to reimburse staff for professional fees and subscriptions.
The introduction of new benefits and the enhancement of existing benefits enabled us to improve our retention, made us a more attractive employer in terms of recruitment, and, most importantly, made our employees feel valued.
We also introduced our employee consultative committee as a further mechanism for communication between employees and the company's managing director. This meets six times year. The nominations and elections were conducted through a third party to show fairness and openness. I am personally involved in the meetings and try to ensure that discussions are open, that anything can be bought to the table and any misunderstandings clarified and dealt with.
We have spent a lot of time supporting the business in changing its culture to being inclusive. Bringing this about is not a quick win but one that happens over time. As with any change, there are those that are not happy and who cannot understand why change is necessary. As a business, we need to understand why they don't want change and to help them through the process.