Personnel Today Awards 2015 winners: Penguin Random House awarded HR Team of the Year

HR Team of the Year - Penguin Random House - collect their trophy
HR Team of the Year 2015 - Penguin Random House - collect their trophy

Penguin Random House took home the much-coveted HR Team of the Year Award at Monday night’s Personnel Today Awards. Here we profile our winner and runners-up.

HR Team of the Year – the judges

Alan Warner, director, Albany OD

Robert Aldrich, former HR director, Nationwide Building Society

David Amos, healthcare, human resources and public services management consultant


WINNER

Penguin Random House

About the organisation

Penguin Random House is made up of 250 independent imprints and is comprised of adult and children’s fiction and non-fiction print and digital trade book publishing. It employs more than 12,000 people globally and publishes 70,000 digital and 15,000 print titles annually.

The challenge

In July 2013, Penguin and Random House merged to create Penguin Random House (PRH), the first global trade publisher. The teams came under one leadership in August 2013, with the aim of supporting the business to restructure, define and build the organisational systems that would make PRH the first of a new kind of publisher.

What the organisation did

  • Supported the exit of several services from the previous owners of Penguin as agreed under the terms of the merger, including: technology, customer and credit services, financial reporting, royalties and the group accounts functions – all with complicated TUPE arrangements, saving £13 million per annum.
  • Moved both companies to a single payroll provider, creating an international payroll service for 200 employees, transferred 1,000 employee records and their associated historic data and took over the provision of benefits for 1,000 additional employees. All of which resulted in fee relief of £1.5 million per annum.
  • Harmonised a flexible benefits platform, creating a single offering for employees, but also allowing them to flex their benefits back to their pre-merger position, should they wish. 94% of employees actively engaged with the new online benefits portal.
  • Created a joint staff forum, representing the views of all employees.
  • Launched internal mobility guidelines, plus a weekly jobs bulletin to demonstrate new career opportunities.
  • Combined the PRH learning and development offering as a key means of bringing people together.
  • Used online technology and listening groups to gauge opinions on the merger and identify areas for improvement or concern.
  • Facilitated around 20 bespoke away days for teams across the business. Hosted their first publishing summit and editorial conference, with attendees from all over the world, and developed 33 internal coaches, helping support others within the business.
  • Held a live Twitter Q&A during Learning Week, which increased the @PRHcareersUK Twitter account to more than 4,000 followers, an increase of 170%, and grew the Careers Facebook page to 3,500 fans – an increase of 123%.

Benefits and achievements

  • Efficiently and effectively exiting from HR-related service agreements, PRH has benefitted from a reduction in fee relief of £1.5 million per annum.
  • HR operating costs reduced by 12% as a result of identifying synergies from combining teams. Salary costs reduced by 15%.
  • Other exits that the HR team have supported have saved the business £13 million per annum in steady state synergies, along with a further £5 million per annum directly driven synergies
  • Broadening salary sacrifice as part of the benefits harmonisation has generated: employer NI savings £48,642/tax savings of £102,826 per annum; and employee NI savings of £43,980/tax savings £132,632 per annum.
  • Voluntary turnover has remained relatively stable during this period of change – from around 8% in 2013, to just under 10% in 2014.
  • In September 2014, employees were asked for their opinions on the merger. The mean response to the question, “Overall, I am positive about the merger” was 65% positive.

Judges’ comments

“The amount of change and the successful outcomes have seen HR step up to the plate in a positive and successful way.”


RUNNERS-UP

Ageas UK

About the organisation

Ageas UK is an award-winning provider of personal and commercial insurance solutions, employing more than 5,500 people with offices based across the UK.

The challenge

Ageas UK has grown to become the sixth largest UK non-life insurer. Over time, this growth has created a multi-structured business of individual operating companies with different practices, processes and cultures. Ageas’s growth plans indicated a need for urgent realignment to generate a robust structure for growth, while maintaining customer loyalty and employee retention.

What the organisation did

  • Created a single insurance company. This three-year change programme required: consolidating seven locations into five, resulting in 170 redundancies; alignment and development of a single culture, people policies, processes and systems; extensive employee training; and the TUPE transfer of 600 employees.
  • Built a single retail organisation. Key requirements included: TUPE transfer of 1,500 employees; consulting 200 employees on the closure of the Belfast site, managing external and internal messages; establishing a new leadership team to deliver a single culture; and introducing a new IT platform across multiple sites.
  • Introduced a new performance management system, online suite of flexible benefits, UK-wide job grading framework, HR information system, and common set of terms and conditions.
  • Provided advice and support on corporate structure and individual department structure, including legal and regulatory considerations. Managed redundancy processes, employee consultation and management support.
  • Standardised line management and HR and development practice for efficiency and consistency.
  • Invested in change management competence, accrediting HR and development and key business stakeholders as change management practitioners.
  • Focused on developing core technical and behavioural skills and knowledge, building career frameworks and talent pipelines.

Benefits and achievements

  • Progression of HR and development talent; in the last three years, 11 of 15 senior roles have been filled internally.
  • Professional development: 72% of HR and development employees have been supported in achieving a professional qualification.
  • Flat levels of absence and turnover in the areas most impacted by the insurance integration and during the Ageas Retail simplification process.
  • Key person retention of 90% in insurance and 93% in retail, against an 80% target.
  • A consistent approach to talent management, including the introduction of the Career Catalyst talent programme.
  • May 2015 pulse survey showed an increase to 82% engagement, with every question showing an improved score with the greatest improvements around praise and recognition, pride and development.

Judges’ comments

“Impressive approach to addressing very challenging change management demands on an industrial scale, with exceptional investment in the development and promotion of employees.”


Greenvale

About the organisation

Greenvale is a subsidiary of Produce Investments Ltd (PIL). PIL is a fresh produce supplier employing up to 2,000 people with an annual turnover of £180 million.

The challenge

Greenvale’s vision is to be the most outstanding potato supplier in the UK and one of the top three fresh produce companies. Organic growth against a highly competitive market where consumption of the core product is in decline is a real challenge. In addition, the business realised that it required greater flexibility and mechanisms to deal with seasonal workers.

What the organisation did 

  • Launched a new integrated HR, payroll and time and attendance system, while assuming responsibility for payroll for a newly acquired business and implementing pensions automatic enrolment (AE).
  • Rostered employees to work a number of hours throughout the year, with more hours scheduled through the busier production period (October to April) and fewer scheduled through the quieter period (May to September), with some reserve hours to be worked back throughout the year to meet production fluctuations.
  • Engaged with employees and employee representatives throughout the process; created and implemented an annualised hours contract and policy; and ensured the smooth transition from hourly to annualised hours contracts.
  • Closed a manufacturing site, saving the company in excess of £2 million per annum. The closure of this site, which had been a part of the Greenvale business for more than 70 years, was significant.

Benefits and achievements

  • Employees have not been affected by the pension system change and have been paid accurately and on time. The company is fully compliant with regards to AE and no penalties have been incurred.
  • Transition to annualised contracts was achieved in the timescales set and was 100% successful.
  • Annualised hours resulted in flexibility and significant cost savings of around £300k. The company saved £200k alone through a combination of employees working flexibly across other shifts, minimising agency use, introducing shorter-hours contracts and repayments from employees failing to work their full annual hours.
  • In addition, the company avoided £90k of overtime costs by extending the overtime period from one week to one year.
  • The scheme also encouraged increased workforce flexibility, multi-skilling and increased productivity, with employees benefitting from working fewer hours during the summer months, with pay remaining unchanged.
  • In addition to an enhanced severance package for those employees affected by the manufacturing site closure, the focus was on outplacement and training support. Working with local authorities, Greenvale ran CV and interview workshops, business start-up seminars and jobseeker support. The support was embraced, with more than 93% of staff finding alternative employment or choosing to retire or relocate.

Judges’ comments

“Small HR team handling real issues with clear business benefits recognised.”


London Borough of Croydon

About the organisation

As London’s biggest borough, Croydon’s population is growing significantly, putting the council in a position where demand for services is increasing year on year. Employees serve more than 360,000 residents.

The challenge

Pressure for change has been relentless since the beginning of 2014. The Council’s budget has reduced by 30%, while demand for its services has increased. Consequently, the Council has a £100 million budget deficit for 2015 to 2018 and something radical must be done if it is to provide anything more than statutory services for its residents in the future.

What the organisation did 

  • Within the last 12 months, the HR division has embedded its restructure and now provides an exceptional in-house service comprising HR business partners and consultancy support, learning and organisational development and specialist HR services with just 30 full-time equivalent staff.
  • Created a culture and working relationship with the chief executive and executive team that is grounded in authenticity and openness.
  • Reviewed its HR strategy and determined a yearly programme that addressed organisational priorities. Those priorities focused on the four quadrants of the HR strategy: diversity (and equality); people planning; health and engagement; and skills and capability.
  • Led the HR implementation strand of a reorganisation at first-tier level. It reduced from four to three departments and ensured that the structure aligned with the new administrations manifesto outcomes.
  • Created three internal secondments to vacant director posts – positive action to manage internal talent and facilitate a developmental pathway for those otherwise at risk of compulsory redundancy and/or for under-represented protected groups (particularly black, asian and minority ethnic groups).

Benefits and achievements

  • HR team’s schools consultancy team has been outsourced to a newly created multi-disciplinary Schools Mutual. The bottom-line contribution from HR was a reduction of £283k pa salary costs and transfer of an income-generating function (£400k pa) to the Mutual.
  • Top-tier restructure achieved a saving of £500k and incorporated innovative new pay arrangements for the first tier.
  • Recruitment interest in new or vacant first-tier posts has attracted a diverse range of high-calibre candidates interested in working for Croydon Council and all of whom have been impressed by its emerging reputation for innovative work and solutions.

Judges’ comments

“Good alignment with the senior team and business outcomes with strong results.”


Parkdean Holidays

About the organisation

Parkdean Holidays is a UK-focused self-catering holiday park operator with 24 sites: 15 in the South West of England, six in Scotland, two in South Wales and one in Norfolk. It offers a range of accommodation, including caravan holiday homes, lodges, flats and chalets.

The challenge

Parkdean Holidays had a financial target of £33 million in revenue, and key to this was a “Good to Great” project to support employees in achieving this aim. As Parkdean’s people are core to its business, it was a priority of the HR and development team to ensure that they were able to work to their full potential in order to drive revenue.

What the organisation did

  • Devised five key priorities: recruit quality candidates; increase employee engagement; develop the capabilities of Parkdean’s people; improve customer service results; and create a robust performance-management strategy.
  • Collaborated with the whole business, including the senior management team, to identify and distinguish key skill gaps essential to drive revenue.
  • Gained a deeper understanding of all areas from an operational perspective to build partnerships with other functions. This involved working weekends and out-of-office hours.
  • Worked closely with the business to design an effective process for new hires. This included establishing a 42-day time to fill guideline based on search and selection, talent banking, open days and providing a professional candidate journey.
  • Launched the ION (Inspiring our Next…) Graduate Programme in May 2014. The team have actively recruited graduates to join the 24-month programme, based out of 26 locations. The Aspire Apprenticeship scheme was launched in early 2015 to triple the number of apprenticeships within the business.
  • Introduced a new quarterly review process to identify development needs. These had more proactive targets and focused objectives under the five headings of planning, people, process, performance and profit.

Benefits and achievements

  • HR and development team have attracted and managed over 117 new permanent team members. This has saved the business more than £510,000 in external recruitment costs.
  • Through the ION Programme, capability and bench strength for management at all levels has been increased. A talent pipeline of graduates and Aspire apprentices have created an effective succession plan.
  • Through quarterly reviews, teams have been strengthened by creating people analysis summaries that formulated action plans to closely manage performance.
  • As a result of strengthening management capabilities, there has been a reduction in grievances by 59%, disciplinary cases have fallen by 17% and there have been no tribunal cases.
  • Number of actively engaged employees has increased to 51%, while the number of actively disengaged employees has reduced to fewer than 4.4% over the course of 12 months.
  • A significant increase in the percentage of employees returning season after season cited the culture as one of their reasons for wanting to return. It has an annual turnover of less than 21% (lower than the industry average).

Judges’ comments

“Clearly very dedicated HR team, which worked tirelessly to deliver programme, with significant savings and improved performance.”


Royal Mail Group

About the organisation

Royal Mail Group (RMG) is the UK’s designated postal service provider, supporting customers, businesses and communities around the country. Royal Mail Operations is the largest part of RMG with around 130,000 employees responsible for collecting, sorting, distributing and delivering mail six days a week, to 29 million addresses.

The challenge

In 2013, RMG successfully floated on the London Stock Exchange and was subsequently admitted into the FTSE 100; a critical milestone in the history of the company. Following privatisation, it faced a complex challenge in responding to competition in a unionised environment, while ensuring that it responded to regulatory demands and generated sustainable shareholder value.

What the organisation did 

  • Facilitated deployment of the Together for Growth (TFG) programme, which supports the groundbreaking Agenda for Growth agreement with the Communication Workers Union.
  • Re-aligned field HR resource to support 100 key change initiatives in the Operations Integrated Plan, which ensured fast results and placed HR at the centre of the Group’s continued transformation.
  • Encouraged more than 70,000 candidates to apply for Christmas vacancies, through the use of an attraction strategy developed by HR services team.
  • Recruited 19,000 staff to support postmen and women and the 10 parcel sort centres that opened to manage the increase in volumes.
  • Refreshed the management and administrative population through the Management Reorganisation Programme (MRP), which affected around 7,400 people.
  • Delivered an outstanding level of work at pace, ranging from the complex MRP design and deployment stage, through to union negotiations, assessments, placements and resolution of grievances.
  • Introduced “Success Factors” – a new online recruitment and talent system with direct access to talent and succession planning, online recruitment processes and revamped learning and development platform to get the best out of people.
  • Revised recruitment processes, focusing on attraction strategy and shortlisting methods.

Benefits and achievements

  • Increase in employee engagement index to 52, up 3%.
  • Increase in survey response rate to 89%, up 4% (100,000 responses).
  • Best Christmas performance in five years.
  • Customer satisfaction up one point this year to 76; 1 point above target.
  • Achieved First Class Quality of Service target.
  • Major investment in behavioural change with launch of Together for Growth; more than 1,200 people have participated to date.
  • Female applicants for operational roles increased from 18% in April 2014 to 20% in March 2015. Actual female hires increased from 19% to 29% in the same period.

Judges’ comments

“Impressive financial results from the Management Reorganisation Programme, and notable increase in female appointments.”


Virgin Money

About the organisation

Virgin Money (VM) is a UK-based bank and financial services company owned by the Virgin Group and founded by Sir Richard Branson in March 1995. At the beginning of 2012, it acquired Northern Rock in a deal worth up to £1 billion.

The challenge

In 2014, the company made the strategic decision to make an initial public offering (IPO) to develop access to markets and investors to continue its strong growth trajectory. In November 2014, it successfully listed on the London Stock Exchange at a time when other planned IPOs were being postponed. In preparing the company and its people for life as a publicly listed company, it identified a number of key issues which needed to be addressed.

What the organisation did 

  • Revised both the structure and membership of the executive team. The operational, customer and commercial areas were brought together under one new role, with an external appointment being made, reporting to the CEO.
  • Hired a new operations director who has strengthened and transformed senior succession coverage at executive level from 50% in 2013, to 75% coverage in 2014.
  • Made key additions to areas where extra demands were placed on the team through listing (namely finance, treasury and company secretary). An investor relations team was built from scratch.
  • Rolled out the Rising Stars programme in late 2014, with a focus on talent development.
  • Put a service in place for listing to enable colleagues to transact shares.
  • Briefed executives and key colleagues and gave online training to cover the new requirements associated with working for a listed company.
  • Agreed to provide £1,000 of new shares to all non-executive colleagues upon listing, to increase their alignment with investors and the IPO process. At least 72% of colleagues chose to retain the vested shares, demonstrating their commitment and ongoing engagement in the future of VM.
  • Ensured that 435 line managers completed the “Me as a Manager” programme, helping managers to master the basics of managing people and develop the ability to deliver a truly memorable working environment.
  • Deployed a carefully planned communications plan throughout the programme, using existing channels such as a weekly message from the CEO, plus one off events such as roadshows.

Benefits and achievements

  • Share price has climbed markedly. This is a transformational event for VM, providing access to new investors and markets to continue growth and enable it to create a better bank for customers on a greater scale.
  • HR has made a key contribution to VM’s continued and future growth, through enabling a successful IPO.
  • Business transformation has been achieved, while building the company culture. Despite the pressures of 2014, staff engagement improved to an industry-leading score of 86%.
  • Almost all (97%) of colleagues believe that Virgin Money always strives to treat customers fairly and the same percentage of colleagues believe Virgin Money cares about its customers.
  • Turnover levels have dropped from 11% pre-acquisition to 9% in 2014. Absence levels have also fallen from 3.3% to 2.9%.

Judges’ comments

“Very impressive and successful approach, with notable “Me as a Manager” programme delivering a high level of development.”


Wiltshire Council

About the organisation

Wiltshire Council is the authority for most of the county of Wiltshire in the West of England. Employees cover a range of functions, including adult care and housing, services for children and families, and communications. It delivers in excess of 350 services with an annual budget of £900 million to a local population of 474,000 people.

The challenge

In 2011, focus was put on undertaking a major Council transformation programme. This programme was designed to deliver savings and also to respond to the changing demands of the Council’s communities, with a particular focus on the opportunities that existed to deliver services jointly with partners – utilising technology and office space in new and innovative ways.

What the organisation did 

  • Worked with stakeholders across the business to develop and implement a council wide behaviours framework with the aim of creating a single, integrated culture, which helped staff to understand that “how” they did their jobs was just as important to its customers as “what” they do.
  • Launched the transformation programme in 2012, which involved an extensive communications plan to ensure that staff at all levels understood the behaviours expected. Work to embed the behaviours in policies, procedures, learning and development, coaching, staff awards and internal communications was completed in the summer of 2012.
  • Reviewed the levels, layers and roles of management and organisational design principles were developed and implemented. This led to a reduction in management posts through a voluntary redundancy exercise.
  • Developed a coaching and mentoring scheme, initially with a focus on leadership development with the aim of strengthening the skills needed to performance manage and effectively lead the workforce through change.
  • Reduced 98 offices across the county to three main hubs, delivering £85 million of savings.
  • Promoted more flexible and agile ways of working through significant investment in new technology and efficient office utilisation.

Benefits and achievements

  • Undertaken more than 100 service reviews, including redesign of jobs and structures to create efficiencies and develop more flexibility and agility in the workforce. This has resulted in a further 600 redundancies, giving annual savings of £9 million.
  • Launched Wiltshire Rewards, a staff benefits scheme offering national and local offers has saved staff in excess of £160k since its launch 18 months ago. Costing £21,000 per annum, and with take up rates of 47%, this has delivered far greater value for money than adding a similar amount to staff salaries.
  • Created a wide range of entry-level opportunities for apprentices, trainees, interns and graduates and the development of partnerships with local establishments to increase the number of under-25s employed at the council, which has seen a percentage increase in the workforce in this group from 4.2% in 2009 to 7.6% in April 2015.
  • Supported the launch of the first community campus in Corsham where council, police, health staff and community groups jointly deliver services to the local community. This has included the development of jointly funded roles and the campus is supported by large numbers of community volunteers.
  • Staff survey results for 2014 have shown huge improvement, with the employee engagement index now at 63%.

Judges’ comments

“Incredible achievement led by HR team to deliver major reorganisation and cost reduction over a long period, and still securing an impressive staff satisfaction level.”

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