Managing change while streamlining the HR function presented a challenge for BMI Healthcare, but a strong partnership with HR advisory service provider AdviserPlus eased the transition.
When BMI Healthcare was undergoing a period of major organisational transformation, the health insurance company needed to find a way to support more than 700 line managers in a number of different global locations.
At the same time, however, it needed to streamline its HR function from 16 advisers to just two HR business partners, improve employee engagement and remain competitive.
HR supplier partnership award
Anyone who enters a Personnel Today Awards category can nominate a supplier for their own award.
Nominated suppliers will be invited to enter the HR Supplier Partnership category after the main entry deadline, on 10 June 2016.
A key element in BMI Healthcare achieving these goals has been its partnership with AdviserPlus, a provider of managed HR advisory solutions and licensed HR technology.
The savings and benefits the two companies have produced together led to BMI Healthcare nominating AdviserPlus for last year’s Personnel Today HR Supplier Partnership Award, which it won.
The company worked closely with BMI Healthcare to develop BmiManage, a fully managed HR advisory service that offers telephone-based advice to managers on top of other tools, such as an intranet.
The service also offers the HR team data and insight to make better and quicker decisions and manage risk.
The idea is that by skilling up managers to deal with queries or problems quickly and on the front line, HR can focus instead on more strategic issues such as change management or heightening engagement.
“If you can put a foundation in place to provide good service to business, HR can focus on the higher value, strategic activity that serves the business well,” explains Chris Clarke, CEO of AdviserPlus.
Empowering managers to deal with issues first hand also has positive side effects in terms of engagement, she adds. “Giving control to managers is compelling, because it puts them in a position where they can give a really strong, proactive service without feeling exposed, while building their confidence.”
If a query cannot be addressed via BmiManage, managers can still escalate issues to HR, but being able to access this service in the first instance means HR spends far less time dealing with capability, disciplinary and grievance cases, and managers aren’t hanging around waiting for HR to respond.
Bringing managers on board
Early collaboration with managers was crucial to the success of BmiManage, and 240 key “influencers” were introduced to the service before it was launched. Within 14 days of the launch, all 700 users had received personal training to get to know the service.
In the first year of it being introduced, the projected savings in HR expenditure were £400,000. Improved absence management meant that more than half of all absence cases were concluded with employees returning to work, and overall absence rates have decreased from 3.5% to 2.76% since the service was implemented.
Nominating AdviserPlus for the award, Elaine Bartlett, head of operational HR at BMI Healthcare, said the partnership “enables us to evolve HR delivery, drive change and achieve business transformation”.
Clarke insists it was crucial to make sure its service model fitted BMI Healthcare and its specific requirements, rather than expecting the company to fit around the service. “We aim to set it up in a way that will give the business a return on investment quickly and easily,” she says.
Getting that bespoke service right hinged on the strength of their partnership, and Clarke believes this is what made AdviserPlus stand out to the awards judges. “Partnership is what makes us award-winning,” she says. “They didn’t make us feel like a supplier.”
AdviserPlus has also had success with a number of other clients, including United Utilities, where it helped achieve savings of £2.15 million, and the Post Office, where it created a one-stop shop for HR and employee relations queries.
Joe Connor, head of HR services at the Post Office, has echoed the praise offered by BMI Healthcare for the AdviserPlus service. He agrees that it was the partnership element that aided the service’s success in his organisation, saying: “The AdviserPlus people set them apart; great people, great service and they always deliver.”
For AdviserPlus’ own employees, winning the award has been a “validation of the work we do”, according to Clarke, and will mean the company can spread the word more widely about managed and technology-led HR services. “It’s hard to put a price on that value,” she concludes.