Personnel Today Awards 2014 winners: Mind Gym named Consultancy of the Year

Mind Gym winning the 2014 Consultancy of the Year
Mind Gym won the 2014 Consultancy of the Year

Mind Gym flexed their psychological muscle to become Consultancy of the Year at in the Personnel Today Awards 2014. The company overcame strong competion to take the inaugural prize at a glittering, black-tie event on London’s Park Lane. Here we profile their winning entry and those of the runners-up on the shortlist.


About the organisation
Mind Gym is used by 61% of the FTSE 100 and more than half of the US Standard and Poor’s 100 companies. Its “bite-size” training approach helps employers to build a high-performance culture, deliver productivity gains, or improve employee engagement, among other things.

Why it stands out
Mind Gym claims that the key challenge for training companies in the UK is to build scale. The business launched with a 90-minute, face-to-face learning “workout”, and was one of the first suppliers in the market to challenge the view that people needed at least a day to learn anything useful. There are now workouts covering more than 90 subjects.

Key projects

  • Appointed by Microsoft to support its “One Microsoft” transformation programme, designed to overhaul the performance culture for 16,000 managers.
  • Replaced seven management development programmes at Unilever with just one, delivering this to 15,500 managers.
  • Employee engagement/management development programme at Health Care Locums after an investigation into financial irregularities sparked a complete change at board level.
  • Customer FIRST programme to turn around service levels at Santander.
  • Employee engagement programme at Zurich, supporting transformation programme to bring leaders together, improving consistency and capability.

Benefits and achievements

  • Saw a 33% performance improvement at Health Care Locums; for every pound spent, HCL enjoyed a £3 return on investment.
  • Reversed nine months of decline in customer scores at Santander; customers describing service as poor dropped from 62% to 26%.
  • Increase in engagement at Zurich of nine percentage points.
  • Confidence in senior leaders also increased at Zurich, with 54% citing confidence that leaders were doing the right things (compared with 37% before).

Judges’ comments

“They are a great company showing significant growth, have a great list of clients and deliver excellent results.”

Consultancy of the Year – the judges

Diane Brown, policy and diversity manager, British Library

Tea Colaianni, group human resources director, Merlin Entertainments


The HR Dept

About the organisation
The HR Dept provides local and personal HR support to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) across the UK and Ireland. The business was launched by Sue Tumelty in 2003 after she left her HR director role at home care business Healthcall Group.

Why it stands out
Sue began working with SMEs in the South-West to offer an outsourced HR service. The company now has a national network of 54 offices managing the “people problems” of thousands of SMEs. It remains an independent family-owned business, with Sue’s husband Mike employed as finance director and daughter Gemma as development director. Its services include an advice line and on-site support.

Key projects

  • Project to transform dementia care for Melton Healthcare Ltd. Worked with the company to support a £5 milion strategic development programme.
  • Delivered management training for supervisors at Melton, and devised a performance management and communications strategy to help embed values.
  • Change management project with a stately home, including reducing employee numbers, changing roles and outsourcing the catering function.
  • Advised on legal requirements and processes, TUPE, and held a consultation to ensure everyone was fully briefed on proposals.

Benefits and achievements

  • Increased staff engagement at Melton, and aligned them with core values and dementia care ethos.
  • Supported Melton through difficult periods, including an inspection by the Care Quality Commission.
  • Stately home business is more profitable and staff are happier.
  • Feedback from estate director: “The HR Dept thinks through, with the client, what the end result needs to be and carefully plans a way to get there”.

Judges’ comments
“A good, solid entry showing the basics were put in place in an effective manner.”

Go MAD Thinking

About the organisation
Go MAD Thinking designs and facilitates a wide range of leadership, innovation and business transformation programmes, aimed at helping people to think differently. Programmes are supported by a range of offline and digital materials, including books, audio, a mobile app and podcasts.

Why it stands out
Central to Go MAD Thinking’s approach is a desire to help clients achieve measurable business results. Its podcasts frequently rank in the top 20 business podcasts on iTunes.

Key projects

  • Implemented a change project at law firm FBC Manby Bowdler (FBCMB) to help it remain competitive and profitable.
  • Project at FBCMB included formulating a corporate social responsibility strategy, plus a client charter to achieve higher levels of service.
  • Introduced new approaches to leadership and improve engagement at Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) after major restructure.
  • Ran 28 two-day events to embed and support culture change at the council.
  • Helped LCC change the way it measured staff engagement.

Benefits and achievements

  • FBCMB’s response rates for Best Companies engagement survey improved from 37% to 89% in 2013.
  • CSR strategy at FBCMB led to reducing energy costs by 10% over a 12-month period and savings on stationery costs.
  • A mentoring scheme introduced at FBCMB has led to junior fee earners being more effective.
  • Engagement increased at LCC to extent where staff volunteer to resolve issues out of hours.
  • Change project will complete early at LCC, achieving cost saving of £27,000 per month.

Judges’ comments
“A solid entry. It would have been good to highlight any innovative solutions. The approach is tried and tested.”


About the organisation
Paydata is a UK-based reward management consultancy, providing HR professionals with expertise, information, insights, tools and statistics to help them manage their pay and reward practices. The company is the leading source of UK salary data in the construction and housing sectors.

Why it stands out
Paydata supports customers in a range of industries, many of which are in the FTSE 250 or equivalent. The clients it works with share an appreciation of how people contribute to organisation success, and how reward strategy aligns behaviour and impacts on employee retention and morale.

Key projects

  • Helped L&Q (housing association) ensure its reward strategy was fit for purpose.
  • Provided L&Q with methodology and toolkit to complete review of reward strategy in-house, including structured interviews at director level and teaching managers to run workshops.
  • Supported L&Q to introduce new pay structure and job evaluation based on research findings.
  • Trained a number of L&Q’s HR team to use its PAYgrade job evaluation system.

Benefits and achievements

  • Cost savings have been achieved at L&Q.
  • L&Q now feels it has appropriate pay packages to attract the quality of people needed by the business.
  • Benchmarking helps L&Q understand how salary scales should work and compare them with external market data.
  • Changes introduced have support from the association’s recognised trade union.

Judges’ comments
“The challenge and solutions showed a high level of collaboration.”

Purple Cubed

About the organisation
Purple Cubed is a consulting company specialising in improving employee engagement, company performance and profit. Its clients include exclusive hospitality businesses and luxury retailers, such as The Dorchester Collection and Tragus Group.

Why it stands out
Purple Cubed has transformed the people practices of some of the world’s most recognised brands. Its use of technology and straightforward approach to HR has collectively saved clients in excess of £10 million per year, and its approaches have been adopted by more than 250,000 people.

Key projects

  • Helped to introduce and embed V. Happy People employer brand at Village Urban Resorts and De Vere Hotels.
  • Designed and implemented bespoke communications dashboard at De Vere to engage candidates during recruitment process.
  • Designed bespoke “talent toolbox” aligned to De Vere’s KPIs.
  • Created online talent system for the Dorchester Collection.
  • Developed performance management system for restaurant group Tragus.

Benefits and achievements

  • De Vere has enjoyed 16% increase in quality applications.
  • Employee engagement at De Vere has increased by 15% to 86%.
  • Labour turnover at De Vere has gone down from 57% to 24%.
  • Created robust talent pipeline: out of 24 “rising stars” at De Vere, eight are now general managers, three deputy general managers and one is a sales manager.

Judges’ comments
“A great success story and a consultancy that truly works in partnership with a business to deliver long-term sustainable results.”

Real People

About the organisation
Real People is a social enterprise HR consultancy, providing cost-effective, high-impact support to UK-wide small and medium-sized businesses. It was developed from the award-winning HR department of Broadway, a highly regarded charity, to share expertise and raise standards in people management practice.

Why it stands out
Since 2005, average turnover has grown to £210,000, with 100% of profits passed to services for vulnerable people through Gift Aid. Real People’s social enterprise status makes it a popular choice for charitable organisations, funding and membership bodies. Most new business is generated by word-of-mouth.

Key projects

  • Supports 300 not-for-profit organisations through Emmaus, and 400 community businesses through Locality, helping them to run their services better.
  • Partnership with West London Mission (WLM), a faith-based social work organisation.
  • Helped WLM to transform its negative culture into a consistent, professional workplace, ensuring managers were part of the change.
  • Provided focused one-to-one guidance at WLM, as well as annual HR refresher days for managers to review learning.

Benefits and achievements

  • Clients have achieved Investors in People status and improved Quality Audit scores.
  • Money saved at WLM has meant greater investment in front-line services.
  • There have been no formal grievances or tribunal claims since the project began at WLM.
  • Engagement is high at WLM: 96% of staff say it is a great place to work.

Judges’ comments
“I like the idea of a company that does charity work as well as private work. Good entry.”


About the organisation
Prismatic Thinking is a consulting approach that looks at companies’ retention, recruitment and motivation holistically. It recognises that, as individuals, we are all motivated by different drivers depending on what suits our values, personality and stage in our lives, while most employee motivation approaches are outdated and ineffective.

Why it stands out
Prismatic Thinking claims to help organisations increase business performance by 30% and improve employee morale by 40% through it’s scientific approach to enhancing motivation through getting the right infrastructure, effective performance management and introducing successful employee reward programmes.

Key projects

  • Introduced retirement education statements for Yearsley Group after having acknowledged that employees did not understand their retirement plans as thoroughly as they would have liked.
  • Statements help employees work out what their standard of living will be like on retirement, with a clear illustration in today’s terms, so they can adjust their savings and make a difference to their future.
  • Provided seminars to all Yearsley employees on financial education.
  • Internally, the company introduced pension scheme with a matched employer contribution of 7.5%, plus retirement education initiatives for all staff.

Benefits and achievements

  • Participation in Yearsley’s occupational pension scheme has risen to 95%.
  • Employee engagement scores and customer service scores have improved, and non-work distractions have been reduced thanks to greater financial education.
  • Better talent pipeline at own company by addressing the so-called “rusty ceiling” and encouraging younger staff to commit for longer.

Judges’ comments
“The challenge is a national one that needs attention so good to see. This was well defined and well planned with some good outcomes.”


About the organisation
Mercer is a global human resources consultancy, providing consulting services and products in the areas of talent, health, retirement and investments.

Why it stands out
Mercer recognises no two clients or projects are alike. The company’s approach is to work in partnership with clients to address their specific needs. Mercer can draw on decades of experience and a global reach to offer unique approaches and solutions to the increasingly complex challenges employers face.

Key projects

  • Built bespoke system to capture and assess compensation and benefits offering across EMEA for Citi.
  • System captures base pay and benefits costs for each employee, with benchmarks for each market.
  • Helped redesign performance management programme at DS Smith and created new total reward statements and compensation structure – the company is now reviewing its global job grading structure with Mercer’s help.
  • Strategic workforce planning project for Coca-Cola in Eurasia and Africa to help it respond to changing environment.

Benefits and achievements

  • Greater visibility of spend on reward across EMEA markets.
  • Citi has the data it needs to support each decision it makes with regard to reward.
  • DS Smith can better direct its spend on talent by having a clearer view of performance.
  • Coca-Cola has been able to build headcount to meet its needs and has a talent plan to meet future growth in its Eurasia and Africa markets.

Judges’ comments
“Good examples of varied and multinational projects.”

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