Personnel Today Awards 2015: Q5 voted Consultancy of the Year

Q5 celebrate winning Consultancy of the Year Award in 2015.

Q5 Partners won this year’s Consultancy of the Year Award, which celebrates the important contribution made by external experts to the success of HR in organisations. We look at Q5’s winning entry and the others that made the shortlist.



About the organisation
Q5 is a consultancy that partners with CEOs, Chief People Officers (CPOs) and senior HR professionals to improve business performance through HR and change expertise. It is a small and growing business providing support across the whole HR spectrum, with services including organisation design, learning and development, and employee engagement.

Why it stands out
Q5 works hard to understand the culture and challenges that HR faces in organisations, and as such its consultants are often viewed as an extension of their wider team. The approach is tailored to each client, and the team includes those from a diversity of backgrounds such as project management, business coaching and training.

Key projects

  • People Power Workshops at to help drive through a change in culture when a new CEO came in to revitalise the brand.
  • Built a virtual engagement community at to ensure needs and opinions of staff were heard, considered and acted upon.
  • Empowered top 50 managers at to identify ‘hot spots’ in the business that would benefit from change.
  • Worked with newspaper publisher News UK on its £30m transformation programme, Newsroom360, helping the senior team to communicate this change.
  • Ran business process workshops for News UK to create standardised workflows across brands but preserve the unique nature of different newsroom operations.
  • Worked with individual titles to look at impact of proposed changes on roles, and tailored approaches accordingly.
  • Supported the British Council to build a Global Operating Framework so it could achieve economies of scale and become more agile as an organisation.

Benefits and achievements

  • People Power Workshops delivered 16 sessions over 10 days, with 28 top managers facilitating, 10 execs presenting, and 480 employees attending.
  • Average growth in understanding of the change after the workshops was 20%.
  • had first decrease in attrition in over two years.
  • Newsroom360 has been the largest, technology-enabled change programme in history, simplifying the way 2,500 journalists operate.
  • Editorial systems in operation at News UK down from 40 to just two.
  • At the British Council, HR and Information Services will make combined savings of £5m by 2019/20.
  • Procurement changes at the British Council will mean savings of £24m by 2019/20.

Judge’s comments

“This is another good consultancy that listens to the brief and responds to it.”



Consultancy of the year: our judge

Tea Colainanni, group human resources director, Merlin Entertainments

About the organisation
Innecto Reward Consulting is a specialist pay and reward consultancy. Its consultants are experts in: facilitating reward and benefits strategies; designing bonus schemes; undertaking salary benchmarking; developing performance management systems; and conducting job evaluation.

Why it stands out
Innecto’s guiding principle is its ‘been in your shoes’ philosophy. Its guiding principle in the appointment of all consultants is they have actually done similar jobs to their clients, which changes the nature of the consultant-client relationship and allows trust to develop quickly. More than 70% of Innecto’s clients come back for another project within two years.

Key projects

  • Helped online clothing retailer Boden develop a meaningful pay survey that would provide them with relevant pay data for their market. Innecto translated the data into an understandable format that could be presented to the board.
  • Created a unified reward structure for CTIL (joint venture between Telefónica and Vodafone to create a shared 4G network); this provides the basis for conversations around pay, grading, and salaries for new roles.
  • New reward programme for Gemserv, a consultancy in the utilities and telecoms sector; this included a range of benefits tailored to match each employee’s demands and lifestyle.

Benefits and achievements

  • Boden now has the information it needs to understand what is happening with pay in its market today, and what is likely to come, meaning it’s easier to plan ahead.
  • CTIL now has a robust pay framework that feeds into performance management, talent development and training needs. This has also enabled them to look at organisational design and effectiveness.
  • At Gemserv, 83% of employees now recognise the range and value of benefits offered, and the company has enjoyed a 10% increase in revenue, 7% increase in profits and 30% increase in headcount.
  • Feedback from Phil Tiffin, HR Director, Boden: “Innecto understand us and I like that. I can pick up the phone anytime and have a useful conversation with them.”

Judge’s comments
“The challenge and the solution were well articulated.”

Pathways Community Interest Company

About the organisation
Pathways Community Interest Company is a specialist social enterprise which seeks to improve health through work. It was established in 2006 and supports individuals, health and social care professionals and communities and businesses achieve sustainable change through a range of services.

Why it stands out
The cost to UK business of sickness absence is around £15bn, with over 130m days lost annually to sickness. Pathways developed an innovative solution to reduce sickness absence through better health and wellbeing support for employers.

Key projects

  • Developed a solution for Manchester City Council’s health and wellbeing board and clinical commissioning group to provide HR case-managed support for employees in the early stages of sickness absence.
  • The solution includes assessment within three days of referral, advice on concerns such as finance or housing, workplace risk factor assessment and wellbeing support.
  • HR case managers have been able to join up the triangle of employers, employees, and GPs/health professionals, including training for GPs on why work is good for our health.
  • Trained HR professionals in the assessment of health need, social needs and engaging with GPs.
  • Built a model to ensure return to work plans are as smooth as possible.

Benefits and achievements

  • Since April 2013: 834 people have accessed the service and provided a bespoke programme; 725 organisations have received support.
  • The average duration of absence at the point of referral was 4.6 weeks, while people accessing the service showed a reduction in sickness absence of 2.8 weeks less than the adjusted local norm of eight weeks.
  • The cost benefit analysis shows a fiscal annual saving to the NHS of £245,125 in comparison to spend on traditional health services, an annual social value of £819,508, with savings to employers amounting to £796,400.
  • Ninety-eight percent of clients returning to work felt that the service helped them return to and remain in work more quickly after illness than without intervention.
  • Funding has been secured for further biopsychosocial programmes for 2015/16, and funding is available to disseminate the programme nationally from 2016.

Judge’s comments
“A clearly laid out entry with tangible objectives and deliverables.”

TCM Group

About the organisation
TCM Group is one of the UK’s leading mediation and resolution consultancies, and has worked with thousands of companies to improve the way they handle conflict and resolve internal disputes.

Why it stands out
TCM can show powerful examples of how mediation can bring about lasting change in problematic aspects of an organisation’s culture, drastically improve workplace relations and save hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Key projects

  • Worked with Royal Mail to bring about a fundamental shift in how the highly unionised company worked. Initial focus was on the bullying and harassment policy which previously had taken people straight into formal dispute; TCM helped offer mediation as an alternative to the grievance procedure.
  • At London Borough of Newham, introduced an internal workplace mediation scheme.
  • For those who still went through a formal route at the council, TCM introduced a pilot scheme directing all complaints to the mediation co-ordinators in the first instance.
  • TCM trained and qualified nine mediators at Newham and provided support and consultancy services.

Benefits and achievements

  • First year trial of mediation process at Royal Mail resulted in 90% success rate (9 out of 10 cases no longer went into formal grievance procedure).
  • Previously, most basic cases of bullying and harassment would cost £4,500 once in formal grievance stage, more complex ones around £12,000 – therefore savings made through mediation have been significant.
  • Use of mediation has extended and Royal Mail now employs 10 mediators, five from management and five from the unions.
  • At London Borough of Newham, mediation referrals now come directly through the union, and engagement has dramatically improved.
  • Mediation team estimates it has diverted 18 formal grievances or complaints, with a potential saving of as much as £180,000 over six months.

Judge’s comments
“Challenge and benefits have been clearly outlined.”


About the organisation
Tonic is a brand consultancy, launched in the spring of 2012. Its aim is to build stronger relationships between employers and their people by creating contextualised content, led by insights from data.

Why it stands out
Tonic believes it creates a bond that goes far beyond the functional benefits of someone joining and staying with their employer. It joins up brand conversations so that employers can talk to, engage and excite the best candidates. It identifies what’s special about a client’s ‘people product’ and links this to their business objectives. It has doubled in size since launch.

Key projects

  • Worked with Shell to create Shell Ideas360, a global competition that engages and inspires students to develop ideas to ease pressures on the world’s energy stores.
  • Show ran at 10 key university campuses across the UK and US, using a mix of media such as geo-targeted banner ads, campus posters and social media.
  • Project with law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner to develop their employer value proposition and differentiate them from competitor law firms.
  • Worked with Mars on global social media strategy, a personal development planning app, a graduate attraction strategy and onboarding portal, among other things.

Benefits and achievements

  • Shell Ideas360 attracted 2,041 visitors, 27m+ Facebook impressions and 50% increase in submission of ideas.
  • Eighty-one percent of students associate Shell with innovation. Applications for first year open day at Berwin Leighton Paisner have gone up 128%, and there has been a 10% increase in applications to Insight Days.
  • Berwin Leighton Paisner has climbed 124 places in the Guardian 300, a list of top graduate employers.
  • Mars has climbed 43 places in the Guardian 300 and up 14 places in the Times Top 100, and has also been named a Great Place to Work in more than 20 countries.
  • Significant rise in internal engagement at Mars, with nominations for its own Make The Difference Awards up by 12,500 on the previous year.

Judge’s comments
“This entry outlines some innovative approaches to graduates recruitment and employee engagement.”


About the organisation
Paydata is a reward management consultancy whose focus is making people’s lives better at work. Customers represent everything from FTSE 100 multinationals to small charities, and the company aims to find solutions that meet each organisation’s unique needs.

What makes it stand out
Almost all of Paydata’s work comes from repeat business, thanks to the combination of expertise, personal service and value for money it offers. Its aim is to create structure and fairness within reward.

Key projects

  • Helped JT (formerly Jersey Telecom) create a new reward structure in order to support its new business strategy.
  • The new approach at JT would focus less on being service-driven to focus on individual contribution and relative value, and brought in a company-wide bonus scheme to reinforce this.
  • Worked with Association of Accounting Technicians to review its pay and grading structures and look at the link between performance and pay.
  • Introduced PAYgrade job evaluation system at AAT and undertook full benchmarking exercise to unearth any issues.
  • Helped housing provider A2Dominion with reward strategy in high risk roles – reviewing remuneration to help with recruitment and retention.
  • Recommended and implemented a new job family structure at A2Dominion that reflects different labour markets and relevant pay approaches to those markets.

Benefits and achievements

  • Since implementing the reward programme at JT the company’s revenues have increased by 70% to more than £153m, and the enterprise value of the business has doubled to more than £300m.
  • JT Group HR Director Richard Summerfield: “I feel the service and advice I receive is bespoke and proactive, which is why we use them as our preferred global reward partner.”
  • Paydata chief HR officer Olivia Hill says the AAT now has a “credible job evaluation system” and a “financially sustainable pay framework”.
  • A2Dominion have approved the change in reward structure and said Paydata “worked hard to understand our needs and deliver a reward structure fit for the future”.

Judge’s comments
“This is how consultants should be. Listening to what is being asked for and delivering with great focus on results.”

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