HR takes on pivotal role in Taylor Woodrow shake-up

Construction firm Taylor Woodrow is putting HR at the heart of plans to
transform its business and become the sector’s employer of choice.

Over the next four months the company will undergo a major change programme
to pull together its three divisions, modernise its management structures and
reposition itself in the market.

Jeff Bakes, a former partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, is working with HR
director Sue Jillings to ensure people issues follow the transformation.

Bakes is writing an HR strategy for the firm’s construction, housing and
property arms which were previously operated as separate businesses.

"Construction has been our traditional strength but we are shifting the
business focus and need to bring together skills across the group," he
said.

HR will be redesigning management structures and pay and awards schemes to
reflect the changing workforce, which is increasingly younger.

Management tiers are likely to shrink from nine to three, while traditional
perks – such as company cars – will be replaced by a flexible benefits package,
said Bakes.

He also plans to make employee relations less formal, to devolve people
management tasks from HR to line managers and upgrade technology to speed up HR
and business processes.

The company’s policies are being revised and rewritten.

"What we are trying to do is put leading-edge processes, which are more
often seen in hi-tech industries, into a construction company. We want to make
ourselves the employer of choice in the market by trying to liberate people in
the way they approach work," he said.

Despite its acknowledged importance in the change programme, HR is not
represented on the board, which Bakes says is a hangover from its past
position.

"Traditionally HR’s perspective has never had a great deal of value in
this sector. There is a lot of catching up to do."

By Dominique Hammond

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