HR Business Partner of the Year 2016: Laura Guttfield, ITN

Laura Guttfield of ITN was crowned HR Business Partner of the Year 2016 at a glittering awards ceremony on London’s Park Lane this week. We look at the individuals shortlisted, starting with our winner.


Laura Guttfield, ITN

About the organisation

ITN is a television production company which provides the daily news programmes for ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. ITN also produces factual, entertainment and current affairs programming, TV commercials and branded content, and sports coverage, as well as providing digital content services for a wide range of clients.

The challenge

HR Business Partner of the Year – the judges

Angela O’Connor, the HR Lounge
Kessar Kalim, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

2015 was an unprecedented year of growth and success for ITN Productions (ITNP) – headcount grew 35% and revenues increased by more than 40%. In an industry where competition for talent is fierce, Laura had to devise a people strategy that ensured staff could meet the operational demands of the ambitious projected growth.

What Laura did

  • Designed and implemented a people strategy with the objectives to: retain top talent and effectively manage underperformers; create an engaging company vision and set of values; develop a high-performing workforce; design efficient and robust recruitment solutions; increase diversity; and address culture and engagement levels to ensure staff feel valued beyond financial measures.
  • Introduced the nine-box matrix to management and mapped all ITNP employees against performance and potential criteria. Created individual action plans, with recommendations to address any development needs and rewarding and giving further opportunity to high performers.
  • Led brainstorm sessions to share ideas on what ITNP stands for and the behaviours the organisation wants to uphold. Developed a shared vision (“ITN Productions: create something amazing today”) and set of values (transparency, innovations and collaboration – “What makes you TIC”?). Wrote an implementation plan to ensure this became part of working life.
  • Achieved a thorough understanding of development objectives for leaders by conducting a learning needs analysis. Recommended the priority areas of “presentation/personal impact”, “people management”, and “team leadership/collaboration”. Devised a three-module, 4.5-day leadership development programme.
  • Ensured a robust and thorough interview processes for all hires: at least two interview stages to involve all relevant stakeholders.
  • Expanded recruitment sources, trained all managers in unconscious bias, and began monitoring interview pools to ensure a diverse range of candidates.
  • Launched “Production Perks”, a suite of benefits that recognises staff beyond financial means. Ran listening sessions to ensure the right benefits were selected, including yoga, time off for charity volunteering and work anniversary gifts.

Benefits and achievements

  • Seen a 100% retention of identified top talent and 100% improvement in performance management of underperformers. Top performers have been promoted into more senior roles, rather than hiring external candidates.
  • Values are now ingrained in recruitment, appraisals/personal objectives and new business pitches/proposals.
  • Improved leadership performance in all development areas. All 2015 financial targets were met and a collaboration culture now exists, with more cross-vertical projects than ever before.
  • All appraisals were completed within the deadline and managers have the confidence to manage their teams more effectively. Initiative has inspired an ITN-wide leadership/management development programme for 2016.
  • Thirty-eight roles were filled in 2015, with an average time to fill of just 30 days from advertising to offer stage.
  • Saw an 80% increase in BAME staff. The percentage of women in leadership roles also improved significantly, to 63%.
  • In 2015, for the first time in five years, ITN conducted a staff engagement survey. Following the implementation of Laura’s people strategy, ITNP averaged 71% across all engagement categories, significantly higher than the ITN average.
  • Created an engaged workforce as evidenced in the average working days lost to sickness being 1.43 per employee per year, compared to the media industry average of 2.86.

Judges’ comments
“A good focus on organisational culture and employee engagement with useful people initiatives developed and successfully implemented.”

ITN's Laura Guttfield collects her prize from Louise Rees, sales manager for Personnel Today Jobs

ITN’s Laura Guttfield collects her prize from Louise Rees, sales manager for Personnel Today Jobs



Chetan Bhatti, CBRE Managed Services

About the organisation
CBRE Group is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm, offering its clients market-leading advice to maximise the value of their real estate. It has more than 400 offices and employs 70,000 staff worldwide.

The challenge
Over the past few years, CBRE has experienced an enormous amount of change. In 2013, it acquired Norland Managed Services Ltd and, in 2015, acquired Global Workspace Solutions. CBRE needed to integrate thousands of employees into the business, while making sure existing employees were supported and there was zero impact at both a customer and commercial level.

What Chetan did

  • Drafted a new employee value proposition (EVP) for global rollout.
  • Mentored two talent resourcing managers who assimilated into the business quickly and effectively, saving money on agency fees and reducing time to hire and new hire attrition rates.
  • Provided coaching and guidance to two HR managers in a large division of the business, giving them confidence in their roles.
  • Briefed the EMEA HR team about the new EVP and issued communications from the CEO to circa 16,000 employees introducing it to the business.
  • Assisted in complex employee relations cases.
  • Looked at the current and future needs of the business and created solutions and strategy around how the company delivers them.
  • Attended bid presentations involving TUPE to reassure clients about the process. Communicated company’s structure, values and processes to thousands of transferring employees.
  • Visited client sites, and then tailored workshops to help managers lead their teams more successfully.

Benefits and achievements

  • Delivered more than £300,000 of recruitment savings at management level.
  • Staff retention has improved significantly to 0% attrition at management level and 4.5% at operational level.
  • The employee advantage initiative has been fundamental in attracting and retaining talent and promoting the value proposition to employees.
  • Employee referral scheme has seen more than £350,000 paid in financial rewards to staff.
  • After addressing the shift pattern, contracted hours and structure of a project, overtime reduced by £12,000 per month and travel costs reduced by £3,000 per month.
  • Chetan’s business won 14 new EMEA-wide contracts between January and June 2016, adding significant turnover to the business.
  • On the majority of contracts, Chetan has achieved a 100% transfer rate by getting employee buy-in.

Judges’ comments
“Lots of great examples of improvements, from £300,000 saved and 0% attrition in recruitment alone – clearly a hardworking and well thought of HRBP.”

Glen Rudd, Virgin Money

About the organisation
Virgin Money is a financial services brand, which currently has four million customers in the UK. Originally established under Virgin Direct in 1995, it rapidly expanded, rebranded as “Virgin Money” and purchased Northern Rock in 2012.

The challenge
Last year saw two of the most significant legislative changes the pensions industry has seen: the Finance Act 2014 and Taxation of Pensions Bill. The change to the Virgin Money colleague pension schemes involved a number of external partner relationships and complex, technical activities that needed to be delivered, including a complete restructure of the investment funds, valued at circa £70 million.

What Glen did

  • Led and implemented significant changes in relation to the Virgin Money Pension Schemes in line with the regulatory requirements, on time to avoid reputational damage, and communicating the changes to colleagues.
  • Moved the complete investment platform to a new provider.
  • Understood the impact of the changes on all stakeholders (company, scheme members, trustees and external partners).
  • To thoroughly understand the rules in detail, scoped out the project and communicate the changes to the trustee board, senior management and external partners.
  • Negotiated costs and contracting arrangements.
  • Devised a communication strategy to ensure members understood the implications of the changes and were engaged fully with the process of changing investment funds.

Benefits and achievements

  • Colleagues were provided with access to more suitable investment options to fit with the new flexibility available.
  • Investment charges were more than halved for members, reducing annual investment and administration charges from 1.4% to 0.45% – meaning a significant saving over a member’s career with the company and improved outcomes in their retirement.
  • All members were successfully transferred to the new platform within the required deadline. This resulted in £75 million of member funds being transferred from one set of multiple funds to another over a two-day period.
  • The investment platform successfully moved, which resulted in reduced scheme costs of circa £70,000 per year.
  • Awarded the Pensions Quality Mark Plus in 2016 which recognises good quality pension schemes and is the highest standard of excellence available to employers.

Judges’ comments
“Clearly Glen has managed a complex change in his area of HR business and done this extremely well.”

Kate Simpson, Omega Pharma

About the organisation
Omega Pharma, a division of Perrigo Company Plc, is a top-five consumer healthcare company. With operations in 35 countries, Omega Pharma specialises in delivering innovative over-the-counter treatments that can be purchased without a prescription. Its iconic brands include Nytol, TCP and Zantac.

The challenge
In the last five years, Omega has experienced explosive growth, going from 25 people in 2012 to 120 people, and net sales increasing from €25 million to €110 million. Managing director Neil Lister was concerned that more than 10% of people in the organisation were not feeling engaged and that employees were starting to experience success fatigue as the pace at which the business was growing. Neil had three areas of focus he wanted support in:

  • His impact on the business: he felt that he was not always getting objective feedback.
  • People systems and processes: the business was lacking standard operating procedures relating to the HR cycle.
  • Values: help was needed to keep them front of mind and current for all people in the organisation.

What Kate did

  • Was asked to act as Neil’s conscious and observed how he behaves in the organisation to course correct areas where his actions were creating negative energy.
  • Completed a full review of the HR provision, identifying what was working and wasn’t working so well. Met with key team members and core employees and reviewed internal data (exit interview data and employee engagement data).
  • Developed a people strategy that was aligned to the company values.
  • Conducted a full review of the company’s policies, processes, handbook and contracts with the view to simplify process, equip line managers with core skills and tools and embed a HR business partnering approach.
  • Delivered a sustainable leadership development programme and learning and development programme.
  • Designed a values charter that would deliver better business behaviours.

Benefits and achievements

  • Developed 33 policies, standard operating processes and supporting tools. Created a consistent contract template and new 30-page handbook (reduced from 144 pages).
  • Twelve delegates attended the leadership development programme. Each received 134 hours of structured development over a 12-month period. Resulted in eight internal promotions.
  • Delivered 26 workshops, with 60% of the business attending.
  • 1-star accreditation in the Times Best Companies to Work – first year of entry.
  • Significant improvement in employee engagement index: “the management team role model behaviours that builds trust”, 6.6 in 2014 versus 7.5 in 2015; “you have the necessary skills to execute your role”, 7.4 in 2014 versus 8.1 in 2015; and “you are clear about what is expected of you and are held accountable for your actions and behaviour” 7.6 in 2014 versus 8.3 in 2015.
  • Now leading the HR integration following the acquisition of Omega Pharma by Perrigo.

Judges’ comments
“Kate seems to have quickly got to grips with the business’ priorities, strategic objectives and culture … and has played a crucial role in developing an HR infrastructure to support the business’ continued growth.”

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