Personnel Today Awards 2015 winners: Kessar Kalim is HR Business Partner of the Year

Kessar Kalim won HR Business of the Year before being made Overall Winner of the Personnel Today Awards
Kessar Kalim won HR Business Partner of the Year before being made Overall Winner of the Personnel Today Awards in 2015

Kessar Kalim, HR business partner at Cafcass, was crowned HR Business Partner of the Year, before going on to win the Personnel Today Awards 2015 Overall Winner, the first individual ever to take home the winner-of-winners prize. Here we take a look at his HRBP entry and those of our runners-up.

WINNER

Kessar Kalim, Cafcass

About the organisation

Cafcass is a non-departmental public body that gives advice to family courts, makes provision for children to be represented and provides information, advice and support to children and their families. It is the largest single employer of social workers in England, with around 1,700 staff.

HR Business Partner of the Year Award: Our judge

Angela O’Connor, CEO, The HR Lounge

The challenge

After being declared “inadequate” by Ofsted in 2009, Cafcass needed to address issues such as high absence levels, low compliance by staff, and poor management information systems. The organisation introduced a new workforce strategy with the objective of receiving a “good” assessment by 2014, which it achieved.

What Kessar did

  • Made a significant contribution to the overall HR transformation at Cafcass, particularly in addressing sickness levels and helping to embed a new workplace culture.
  • Joined as an HR administrator in 2009 and has risen quickly through the ranks: completed his CIPD Masters in Human Resource Management and became HR business partner in 2014.
  • Now provides support for managers in Birmingham, London, Surrey and Sussex, encompassing a business unit of around 400 staff.
  • Supported the development of the equality and diversity programme, which was rated “outstanding” by Ofsted.
  • Provided support for a pilot programme where Cafcass has led and advised social work teams in Birmingham City Council.
  • Took part in Cafcass’ job evaluation panel and a programme to update pay scales – the latter required moving around 1800 staff from an eight-point payscale to a 10-point payscale.
  • Helped with promotion of diversity events, reviewing feedback and moving training from entirely paper-based process to fully online.

Benefits and achievements

  • Cafcass has reduced sickness absence levels from 16.2 days per social worker per year to 7.3 days in 2014: Kessar has supported staff in their return to work and in building resilience.
  • Intervention in Birmingham City Council has led to improvements in employee engagement, with staff grading the project 4 out of 5.
  • In London and Surrey/Sussex, 100% of managers met their performance assessments. In London and Surrey/Sussex, 100% of managers met their performance assessments.
  • Feedback from diversity events showed that 100% would use their learnings in their practice.
  • “He works tirelessly to ensure that advice is available, balanced, and ensures that managers and staff feel supported”: feedback from Richard Morris, head of service.

Judge’s comments

“I loved the business-like nature of the submission which linked the strategic objectives, the line of sight between what he did and the resulting outcomes.”


RUNNERS-UP

Tina Byford, Royal Mail Group

About the organisation

Royal Mail Group delivers a six-days-a-week, one-price-goes-anywhere postal service to more than 29 million addresses across the UK. Its aim is to be the best delivery and marketing mail business in the UK. In October 2013, it floated on the London Stock Exchange.

The challenge

Following privatisation, the Royal Mail Group needed to respond to competition in a unionised environment, while still responding to regulatory demands and the expectations of shareholders. Royal Mail Operations is the largest part of the company, with 130,000 employees, and is responsible for collecting, sorting, distributing and delivering six days a week.

What Tina did

  • Took over role of head of HR for West Midlands Delivery Directorate (52 delivery units in West Midlands area) in June 2014, acting as strategic business partner to the West Midlands Delivery Director.
  • Drove concept that employee engagement needed to be based on great leadership every day, rather than an annual, survey-based event.
  • Undertook listening sessions where colleagues could discuss issue; ensured appropriate follow-up.
  • Shared engagement survey results with unions and engaged union colleagues with subsequent action plans.
  • Focused on six delivery units with lowest engagement index scores to formulate action plans with their managers, unions, and employee representatives.
  • Coached and supported managers to improve performance conversations and ensure high quality of personal development plans.
  • Developed a number of talent programmes including: Next steps (front-line colleagues wanting to move to management); Elevate (temporary managers moving to permanent first line manager roles); Management Development Programme (supporting middle managers to more senior roles); Springboard/Spring Forward (female career aspirations).
  • Key contributor to Continued Efficiency Programme aimed at streamlining organisational design and deployment. Integral role in people cost reduction plan to remove more than 100 full-time heads from the business.

Benefits and achievements

  • West Midlands came top nationally across many measurement scores, moving up from mid-table the previous year.
  • All units achieved self-imposed “stretch” targets after the 2015 engagement survey.
  • Zero formal disagreements in 12 months.
  • Employee engagement survey gained 89% response rate (up 4% year on year) and employee engagement index rose by four points to 53.
  • Review of allowances has saved £192,000 for West Midlands, having worked closely with finance department.
  • Reduction in sickness absence of 3.3% compared to prior year.
  • Sixty-five people left the business through voluntary redundancy and 35 through retirement/ill-health, addressing some long-term absence issues and meeting targets for cost-reduction plan.

Judge’s comments

A nice, well-rounded entry showing how HR can add real value to the business.


Diana Peeva, AAYA

About the organisation

AAYA is a London-based hospitality business, set up to develop and deliver hospitality concepts and manage their operations. The brands AAYA has worked with include The Duck and Rice, Busaba Eathai and Parc Chinois.

The challenge

AAYA has launched two high profile hospitality concepts in 12 months: Babaji Pide Salonu, and The Duck and Rice, and was supporting the development of two more in 2015: Princi London and Parc Chinois. The company needed to recruit and train new teams to deliver high quality products and services, and establish a strong set of systems and values.

What Diana did

  • Defined reporting and operational lines to create a cohesive team and operation.Outlined duties, responsibilities and contributions to create engagement at recruitment stage and a career development framework.
  • Developed online recruitment system with applicant tracking system, candidate management, talent pool capabilities, multi-job posting and legal compliance.
  • Defined a training index outlining job-specific learning, levels of knowledge and assessment.
  • Worked with in-house subject experts to design and deliver training content.
  • Designed an online learning platform which can act as a tool for personal and professional growth. This encompasses: an LMS, assessment/diagnostics, learning plans, training records, job levels content, analysis tools and a social platform.

Benefits and achievements

  • No spending on agencies means £50,000 in recruitment savings.
  • System has attracted and managed 5,438 applications, recruiting more than 200 team members in six months.
  • Retention of team members is 70%.
  • Learning system supports all operational departments and has reduced cost of training by £20,000.
  • All induction and statutory training is completed on time with online records of assessment.
  • Learning platform has attracted more than 8,000 views.

Judge’s comments

“Two good projects are described in this entry…. both were delivered on time and to budget.”


Fiona Thompson, ATS Euromaster

About the company

ATS Euromaster is a nationwide tyre company with 340 centres across the UK.

The challenge

Six years ago, the company was charged with reversing a long record of financial instability – at its lowest point the business recorded a loss of £27 million. HR director Irene Stark wanted to differentiate ATS Euromaster from the competition by making customer care an integral part of the way people work. She asked Fiona Thompson, Group Head of Learning and Development, to come up with a viable solution.

What Fiona did

  • Fiona and the HR customer care team assessed current practices and reviewed how each team interacted with internal and external customers, collating real data.
  • Uncovered poor customer service examples and gathered evidence to present to managers.
  • Decided to introduce SMILE: Putting the customer first, which highlights five critical touch points on the customer journey where employees could add or destroy value. S – state (of mind and environment); M – meet and greet; I – in the customer’s shoes; L – live the company values; and E – engage (with each customer until the end of the transaction).
  • Launched SMILE at day-and-a-half event to the top 60 people in the business, then selected eight people to become group facilitators to show this as a business, rather than solely HR, initiative.
  • Every team in the business has attended a condensed version of this event, including fish and chip suppers. There has also been a series of 90-minute SMILE workshops as refresher sessions.
  • Worked with internal communications to come up with materials to encourage employees to participate.

Benefits and achievements

  • SMILE has become part of people’s objectives, and each team completes a quarterly SMILE action plan.
    Irene Stark, Group HR Director: “Fiona’s approach to internal and external customers, has united people in operations, sales and head office.”
  • Employees’ understanding of the importance of customer care has increased: in latest survey, 70% said they agreed strongly that “we regularly use customer feedback to improve our processes”, a 13% point improvement on last year.
  • ATS Euromaster’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) has increased by over 27% points – it currently stands at 80%.
  • Internal measurements show that those centres that have a higher engagement score, NPS and better turnover tend to also outperform other centres in profitability, productivity and customer service.

Judge’s comments

“Some nice work here including an innovative approach to development such as the fish and chip suppers. Like the real data approach to customer feedback.”


Gordon Latham, Warwickshire County Council

About the organisation

Warwickshire is one of the fastest growing commercial regions in the UK, and the County Council is the largest employer in the area, employing 18,000 people with a total spend of more than £670 million.

The challenge

There are now more than 4,000 academy schools nationally, and almost 60 of these are in Warwickshire, funded directly by the Department for Education and employers in their own right. With freedom to run their own staffing arrangements, this created significant challenges from an HR perspective, for example in maintaining long-standing bargaining arrangements. Furthermore, some schools were moving away from the local authority to choose alternative HR providers.

What Gordon did

  • Came to Warwickshire in new post of Schools HR Business Partner in 2013.
  • Developed code of practice/behaviours for trade union representation and an employee relations consultation framework.
  • Reviewed number of consultative forums and developed a more streamlined, stakeholder-led process.
  • Persuaded trade unions that academy schools needed to participate in the new framework to maintain a similar level of financial support for their activities.
  • Worked with schools to get on the agenda of head teacher forums, and connected with Governor Services and School Improvement colleagues.

Benefits and achievements

  • Successfully won back lost customers and secured new business for the LA’s HR services and enhanced its reputation.
  • Policies are available for use by customers within a month after a consultation commencing.
  • Established himself and the HR service as a highly credible and valued partner to the Council.
  • Won PPMA award for promoting positive employee relations.
  • Feedback: “Gordon has done a great deal to ensure the strategic support to schools is recognised and valued. His support for the schools advisory team is superb and we are seeing their confidence and skills grow as a result.”

Judge’s comments

“He has clearly moved employee relations from a low base using a range of approaches.”


Sarah Martignier, Harrods

About the organisation

Harrods is one of the world’s best known department stores based in Knightsbridge in London, with 330 departments offering a wide range of luxury products and services, from clothing to jewellery, personal shopping and interior design. The Harrods Group also operates the Harrods Bank, Air Harrods, the Harrods Estates and Harrods Aviation. It employs more than 5,000 employees across 20 industries.

The challenge

  • Worked with Orion Partners to move towards the Ulrich Model of business partnering, establishing a shared services hub to handle transactional HR.
  • Moved from newly promoted junior HR business partner (formerly an ER advisor) to become top performing business partner, supporting some of the most challenging stakeholders in the business.
  • Led on talent management project, working in close partnership with head of learning.
  • Established remuneration committee for the Harrods Bank.
  • Designed complex transformation programme for the IT function.
  • Worked with store services/cleaning department on developing customer service skills.

Benefits and achievements

  • Nominated for and won the Harrods Award for Excellence (nominated by CFO, CEO of Harrods Bank and director of store operations).
  • She was the first internally promoted business partner post-restructure.
  • CFO feedback: “Sarah brings a refreshing ‘can-do’ approach to every part of her job and doesn’t let barriers get in the way of achieving the best result for the organisation.”
  • CEO Harrods Bank: “Sarah is an excellent business partner. She lives and breathes Harrods and its values. A fantastic example to everyone of what it means to work here.”

Judge’s comment

“She sounds good and there is some nice feedback.”

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