Personnel Today Awards 2004

This award is aimed at HR teams who have achieved genuine business-partner status. The judge looked for explanations of the business strategy and evidence of HR’s contribution to meeting objectives. He also looked at the HR team’s strategy, how it was implemented, and the results that have been achieved so far.

The judge

Terry Morgan is chief executive of Tube Lines, which is responsible for maintaining and upgrading the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly (JNP) lines on teh London Underground.

Morgan joined Tube Lines from BAE Systems, where he was group managing director (operations). In this role, he was responsible for five divisions with a combined workforce of 18,000 employees, and a turnover of almost £1bn.

The sponsor

Northgate 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. A pedigree of expertise and experience resides within its team of more than1,000 professionals, who are focused on developing, supporting and delivering leading-edge solutions to the HR market.

Shortlisted teams

BAE Systems

The team: Customer Solutions & Support HR team

No. in team: 10

No. in HR function: 55

No. of employees HR is responsible for: 14,800

About the organisation

With an annual turnover of £3bn and 14,800 employees, Customer Solutions and Support (CS&S) is a key growth business for its parent group, BAE systems, a global leader in the aerospace and defence sector.

The challenge

After the merger of BAE Systems and Marconi Electronic Systems, CS&S needed to develop a leadership framework that would help forge a consistent approach to leadership across six very different business units.

What the organisation did

  • Developed the Achieving High Performance Programme – a key enabler to achieving its strategic aims

  • Devised a business unit diagnostic process involving the senior leaders, training deliverers and the HR team, facilitated by its HR shared services provider

  • Modules were designed to complement the strategic aims of CS&S while reflecting specific business unit priorities.

  • nefits and achievements

  • Provided CS&S with an identity and language that is consistent towards developing a high-performing culture and a step change in leadership capability for the business

  • Significant increase in senior management time committed to people issues and leadership development.

Terry Morgan says: “Performance management is a big challenge if we are to lead business in a way that achieves outstanding results. The way the programme has developed is very impressive.”

CB Richard Ellis

The team: UK HR team

No. in team: 16

No. in HR function: 16

No. of employees HR is responsible for: 1,400 UK, 2,800 Europe

About the organisation

Property consultancy CB Richard Ellis was formed in 2003, bringing together CB Hillier Parker and Insignia Richard Ellis. It has a total UK combined revenue of $229m (£127m).

The challenge

To ensure that the merger added value, rather than destroy it, as the press had predicted. It needed to secure and increase its client base, while at the same time retaining all its key staff.

What the organisation did

  • Involved HR at the very outset of the pre-merger discussions. Through this early involvement, HR created the ‘architecture’ required for senior management to implement the merger successfully

  • The UK HR director formed part of the UK steering executive that met weekly to plan and oversee the integration process

  • The two HR teams decided to immediately work as one, fully integrated team, several months before the merger was complete

  • HR reduced the cost of many existing benefits.

  • Benefits and achievements

  • Fewer staff left voluntarily during the merger year than had left the two firms in the year before the merger

  • Positive client feedback and retention – none of the merged business’s top 200 clients defected to its competitors

  • The merger was an outstanding success – business performance improved by 10 per cent on the previous year.

Terry Morgan says: “A very challenging business problem to manage that many companies have failed to deliver on.”

South West Trains

The team: HR team

No. in team:  7

No. in HR function: 75

No. of employees HR is responsible for: 5,450

About the organisation

South West Trains (SWT) is the largest train-operating company in the UK. It runs 1,635 trains every weekday, serving 207 stations. 143 million passenger journeys are made every year.

The challenge

To develop an HR strategy which aims to create optimum performance and efficiency within the business through a well-motivated, well-managed workforce, while minimising the likelihood of future industrial action.

What the organisation did

  • Involved employees in the development of the company’s values and behaviours through workshops and self-completion surveys

  • Ensured that the business strategies for SWT were explicitly aligned with the HR strategy

  • Implemented the ‘ideas4action’ suggestion scheme and employee forums and focus groups to seek ideas from employees, such as on how to improve internal communications in line with the forthcoming information and consultation directive.

  • Benefits and achievements

  • SWT had its first-ever ‘No’ vote for industrial action in an industry-wide ballot

  • Successful pay deal for all employees in 2002 and a three-year pay deal for the majority of employees this year

  • An 85 per cent retention rate for open-learning users

  • A reduction in sickness absence across all functions within the company

  • A 6 per cent improvement in customer satisfaction scores.

Terry Morgan says: “A very good engagement of HR in supporting business objectives. They used metrics very effectively to demonstrate achievement.”

West Bromwich Building Society

The team: People division

No. in team: 2

No. in HR function: 25

No. of employees HR is responsible for: 850

About the organisation

West Bromwich is one of the oldest building societies in the UK. It has survived for 150 years without any merger or takeover, and has undergone a radical change of fortune in recent years.

The challenge

Aligning each strand of the people strategy with the overall business objectives over the short, medium and long-term.

What the organisation did

  • Though it is not a business requirement, HR utilised the same ‘road map’ process as its corporate planning division to map its strategy to the corporate target

  • Identified desired leadership behaviours through a culture-change programme. This then drove the strategy for the introduction of a coaching programme

  • Held executive think-tank planning sessions. With HR centrally involved, these sessions enable HR to
    co-ordinate the people requirements of the business and align its road map to the society’s corporate road map.

Benefits and achievements

  • Staff perceptions have significantly improved in all areas, with the average leadership rating increasing from 2.9 out of 4 in 2003, to 3.1 in 2004.

Terry Morgan says: “The use of metrics to validate progress was particularly impressive. This is much more than a short-term initiative –the plan has the ability to mature and change, but is based on a clear understanding of how HR strategy can help the business deliver its objectives.”



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