Northgate HR Award for Best HR Strategy in Line with Business

This award is aimed at HR teams which can demonstrate they have achieved genuine business partner status within their organisations. Entries needed to explain the business strategy and the contribution of HR to meeting objectives. The judge looked at the HR team’s own strategy, how this was devised and implemented, the involvement of senior staff and what results have so far been achieved. Entries had to explain how HR measured the benefits and how the team identified priorities.

Leaseplan UK
The team: HR Division

No. in team: 11
No. in HR function: 17
No. of employees HR is responsible for: 620

About the organisation

LeasePlan is the world’s largest vehicle management company with operations in 26 countries and more than 20 years of experience. The company manages more than a million customer vehicles worldwide.

The challenge

To create an HR strategy to support the company’s five-year targets. These are summed up by the ’20:40:80′ slogan – £20m additional profit, achieved through 40,000 additional vehicles and £80 additional profit per vehicle by 2007.

What the organisation did

  • Designed the ‘Putting the customer first’ and ‘Drive to perform’ strategies

  • ‘Putting the customer first’ gave all staff the opportunity to define the business strategy for good customer service and retention through a series of workshops and focus groups.

Benefits and achievements

  • The strategic message was consistent across five brands and four sites for the first time

  • 90% of staff now agree that LeasePlanUK gives good customer service

  • 75% of customers now say they are satisfied, compared to 56% before

  • Gave employees a sense of empowerment which resulted in a reduction in labour turnover from 34% to 16%.

Category judge Kevin Green says: “There was a clear set of business goals and a strong link between putting the customer first and the strategy. There was good measurement of results and it was a multi-functional effort, not just HR.”

Compass Group
The team – Compass Group HR Team

No. in team: 11
No. in HR function: 300
No. of employees HR is responsible for: 400,000

About the organisation

Compass Group is the ninth largest employer in the world with 400,000 employees in 90 countries. The group provides food, vending and related services to 25,000 client companies including schools, colleges and hospitals. It serves about 20 million lunches a day.

The challenge

To create a values-driven organisation that “would be admired as much for the quality of its people and its services as it was for its results” and to grow the company organically rather than through acquisition.

What the organisation did

  • Created five values: ‘Can do’; ‘Embrace diversity’; ‘Share success’; ‘Quality’; and ‘Teamwork’, all driven by HR

  • Provided an intensive workshop programme for managers and staff

  • Delivered more than three million hours of training for staff in the launch phase

  • Created a reference tool to track progress called ‘Our future’

  • Implemented an annual global employee, client and customer survey programme.

Benefits and achievements

  • Improved attraction and retention: UK internal promotions up by 10%, Americas up by 22.5%

  • A 20-fold increase in people visiting the UK e-recruitment website

  • UK employee survey response up by 10% to 60%

  • Likelihood of employees staying with Compass Group is up 1% to 55%.

Category judge Kevin Green says: “There was a good definition of strategic need in the change of focus from acquisitive to organic growth. There was also very clear linkage of people service and results, and measures designed for each.”

The team – Camelot People Function

No. in team: 16
No. in HR function: 16
No. of employees HR is responsible for: 960

About the organisation

As operator of the National Lottery, Camelot’s core purpose is to maximise returns to good causes by continuing to increase ticket sales in a socially responsible way – 28% of total sales are returned to good causes.

The challenge

  • To carefully balance commercial growth with social imperatives, while concentrating on diversification of the product portfolio and improved access and convenience for players

  • To start a strategic review of HR practice and policies to ensure the alignment of HR activities with the business strategy

  • To identify and agree the ‘business imperatives’ that support Camelot’s strategic objectives and to understand the people implications.

What the organisation did

  • Interviewed board members and senior executives to agree six ‘business imperatives’. From these, it identified four ‘cornerstones’ to link the new people strategy to business strategy

  • Reviewed the effectiveness and capability of the people function to deliver the strategy

  • Agreed actions and measures against each of the four cornerstones to provide a roadmap for delivery.

Benefits and achievements

  • 90% of staff now have an annual review (which is followed up if they are deemed unsatisfactory)

  • 20% improvement in the 2004 staff survey score

  • Improved its ranking in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For list – up to 76th.

Category judge Kevin Green says: “A good explanation of business strategy, which links clearly to the key people strategy cornerstones. A very strong process which aims to align HR to the business needs.”

The team – HR Executive Group

No. in team: 6
No. in HR function: 200
No. of employees HR is responsible for: 15,000

About the organisation

Reuters is a global information company providing information tailored for professionals in the financial services, media and corporate markets. It has revenues of £2.9bn a year.

The challenge

To turn around large losses and falling share prices and close a growing gap in customer satisfaction compared to Reuters’ main competitor, Bloomberg. To turn around a loss in confidence among employees in senior management and a perception that there was little hope that things would change for the better.

What the organisation did

  • Launched a three-year change programme called ‘Fast Forward’, which included a stream dubbed ‘Living fast’ to drive organisational and cultural change and communicate the Fast Forward transformation

  • Introduced FAST values (Fast, Accountable, Service-driven, and Team) driven by 1,500 employee workshops and an ‘issues audit’ encouraging staff to log their worries with the company

  • Established targeted training for 1,400 customer-facing employees

  • Revised employee surveys to take into account the new values.

Benefits and achievements

  • Delivered savings of £234m from the Fast Forward programme and is on track to meet the £440m target

  • Reduced losses: revenue down 5% in 2004 compared to 8% in 2002. Indicators show positive revenues to come

  • Narrowed the gap in customer satisfaction compared to main competitor

  • Increased share price from £1 in 2003 to £4+ in 2004.

Category judge Kevin Green says: “The ‘Living fast’ programme is comprehensive and was well conceived and executed. There was a good use of business measures in each area – especially performance management. There was also a strong set of HR and organisational development interventions.”


Northgate HR is the UK’s leading supplier of HR and payroll solutions and services to all market sectors with a client community of more than 2,500 organisations. Its team of more than 1,000 professionals has a pedigree of expertise and experience and is focused on developing, supporting and delivering leading edge solutions to the HR market.

Category judge

Kevin Green, people and organisation development director for Royal Mail Started at the Royal Mail Group in October 2003 as its chief learning officer and took his current role in September 2004. Before joining Royal Mail, Green was the managing director of HR consultancy Qtab.

Comments are closed.