Personnel Today Awards 2001 update

Short listed teams for the Rebus HR Award for Best HR Strategy in line with

Teams shortlisted for this award have taken seriously the need for HR to reposition
itself to add value to the business or organisation it serves. Central to their
recognition is the department’s business strategy, how it was devised and
implemented, who was involved and the results to date

Barclays Banking HR team

What they did

Developed and implemented a programme of interventions to transform the
capability of its people to achieve the business’s strategic goals. The goal
was for Barclays to become the undisputed leader in business banking in the UK.
To achieve this it needed to transform the existing business in terms of new
products and customer segments, as well as investing in technology and the
sales force and developing new channels. As a result, a people strategy was
needed which focused on building leadership within the business, convincing
everyone of the need to change, investing in skills development and introducing
a wide range of performance management tools for managers to link performance
and reward more closely. The training budget was increased by 40 per cent and
an intranet-based self-development toolkit can now be accessed via desktop PCs.

Why they did it

In an increasingly competitive market Barclays’ business goal was to double
economic value every four years. Its brand promise was to help its customers
achieve their ambitions. Steve Wiggins, head of HR for the Business Banking
Centre, says that in order to achieve this the bank had to first make it happen
for its people. "The most significant enabler of a business transformation
programme of this scale is the leadership capability of the organisation. We
needed to develop leaders who could create a challenging and attractive vision
of the future and demonstrate the skills, and behaviours required to achieve it
and the culture we were looking for."

Benefits and achievements

Barclays has achieved a 12 per cent increase in operating profit on the back
of strong revenue growth. Excellent customer satisfaction has been recorded
with the bank coming number one in independent research in all the key measures.
Results from an employee survey show that the transformation of leadership has
led to improvements in 13 of the 16 measures used. Business Banking is also
ahead of the company average in 10 of the 16 measures.

The team

Number in team 6 people heads, each with their own teams
Staff responsible for 105,000
HR director Mark Wells
OMD Terry Bowden
Head of HR Julia Wiffen
HR adviser Tash Samadpour
Head of HR Rachel Yates
Head of HR Nigel Fretwell

The People Team

What they did

Asda’s people team devised a strategy to deliver people able to
"sell and serve with personality" and offer craft skills in-store to
offer the best possible service to customers and improve the business’s
profits. The people strategy is based on recruiting, training, motivating and
retaining high quality staff. Its priorities were to recruit the right calibre
people with the appropriate personality to serve customers in the fast-paced
retail environment, to be able to train key skills as effectively as possible
in order to meet business priorities, and to offer employees a motivational
working environment free from the traditional retailing commands and control
style. Consequently, among other things, 2,500 colleagues have been trained in
a skill such as butchery or floristry at the Asda Academy, all new managers
train in one of the eight stores of learning, and morale is regularly assessed
through "We’re listening surveys".

Why they did it

Asda implemented the strategy in order to gain a competitive
edge. David Smith, people director for Asda, says in retail it is necessary to
gain a competitive edge through people strategies that align to business
performance delivery on a daily basis. "We like to think about moments of
service. The shopper can decide not to come back because of one bad service
interaction. Our objective is to deliver service with real personality
always," he says.

Paul Mckinlay, head of people development for Asda, added that
the strategy was also aimed at tackling the problem of retention, which has
traditionally been a problem in the retail sector.

Benefits and achievements

Asda claims it is the number two food retailer in the UK market
by share of sales behind Tesco and was voted the fifth best employer and best
large employer in the Sunday Times survey of the top 50 UK employers. It claims
to be the friendliest superstore food retailer in perception data with its
competition – achieved by recruiting principally on personality, looking for
people who enjoy interacting with customers. Morale indices are rising year on
year with 90 per cent of employees reported to enjoy working at Asda, and 86
per cent feeling properly trained.

The team

Number in team 50
Staff responsible for 9,000
People director David Smith with
Retail people director Caroline Massingham
Head of resourcing Jan Shaw
Remuneration & benefits manager Kerry Ellis
Head of people development Paul McKinlay

Organisational Development team

What they did

The mission was to take three small traditional printing
businesses with a turnover of £13m and turn them into a £100m showcase
organisation providing design, document management, print management,
warehousing and logistics to a wide range of blue-chip companies.  Organisational design was focused around
developing market-targeted teams responsible for everything from sales to
customer service, purchasing, inventory management and invoicing. Hierarchies
change with each new project so that the most senior member of one team can
also be the most junior member of another. All staff are encouraged to maximise
their potential and anyone in the organisation can attend courses led by
college lecturers. Industrial relations negotiations have been dropped in
favour of industry wage increases and the reward strategy has been adapted to
suit individuals. Kathy Woodward, group operations and HR director, says,
"On every site in the country at 8.30am representatives from across the
business meet and table anything that impacts either internally or external
customer service. These actions drop into databases that form the core of our
development strategies – process improvement, people improvement."

Why they did it

"To deliver our business development plan we decided to
adopt a radical approach to our human resources strategy" says Woodward.
"Instead of a dedicated human resources department, it was decided that
each employee would become an HR officer. "Our focus would be on everyone
being a critic, a coach, communicator and champion and that our business
processes would focus on delivery, innovation, value and control to our

Benefits and achievements

The business has grown from £13m to £100m, with increased
profits to match. Astron’s customer base includes British Airways, Bupa and
ScottishPower. "We have developed leading edge e-commerce systems, we have
integrated mergers, and kept our people motivated and having fun," says

Judge’s comment

John McCarthy, European partner,
William M Mercer


The team has demonstrated a direct impact on business
performance through their efforts and appear to have strong support from
business management, employees and Unifi, the employees’ representative.


From the start there was a desire to create a new business
model. To support this the team has an HR strategy that is completely
integrated with the business. The results show in the business performance.


The team at Asda has an HR strategy that is right at the heart
of the competitive proposition that the company brings to its customers.

Pinderfields and Pontefract
Hospitals NHS (recommended)

Although not shortlisted, Personnel Today is pleased to give
this team a special mention. This is one of the more difficult strategies to
execute, which must be true for every part of the NHS, and as all of us are
potential beneficiaries, deserves encouragement and support.

RebusHR is a leading HR and
payroll solutions provider, offering solutions to businesses of all sizes. Its
clients include more than 70 of The Times Top 100 companies. RebusHR develops
long-term partnerships with its clients, some of which have been using its
services for more than 30 years

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