CBRE’s Anna Haines is HR Rising Star 2016

harvey_nash_logo_10092The 2016 HR Rising Star is Anna Haines of CBRE Global Workspace Solutions. The Personnel Today Award, sponsored by professional recruitment and outsourcing specialists Harvey Nash, was presented to Anna at a glittering black-tie event in London this week. Here we look at all the shortlist’s entries, beginning with our winner.


Anna Haines, CBRE Managed Services

About the organisation
The CBRE Group is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm, with more than 400 offices, 70,000 staff worldwide and revenues of $11 billion. In 2013 it acquired Norland Managed Services, a provider of engineering services for commercial buildings, with 4,000 employees, 14 offices across UK and Ireland.

HR Rising Star – the judges

Bruce Warman, Centre for Economics and Business Research.
Angela O’Connor, The HR Lounge.

Anna worked at Norland and, as the business grew after CBRE’s acquisition, she grew professionally, stepping up to make sure key elements of the company’s integration were successful. She went on to smooth the integration of thousands more employees during the subsequent acquisition of Global Workspace Solutions (GWS).

The challenge
Two years after the Norland restructuring, CBRE acquired GWS, creating CBRE’s largest division. CBRE needed to integrate 8,000 employees into the business, while making sure existing employees were supported and there was zero impact on customers.

What Anna did

  • Introduced “My Norland rewards” and moved the employee benefits system to Reward Gateway.
  • Engaged with all key stakeholders to raise awareness of the new system’s launch.
  • Created the Peopleapp, transforming a paper-based vacancy sign-off into a simple, time-saving online form.
  • Worked closely with the systems director, finance director, HR director and others to make sure the online system was the best solution for the business.
  • Created due diligence reports, providing the team and global leadership with data that was used to inform the decision as to whether to proceed with the acquisition.
  • Sourced data that informed decisions about restructures and synergies, both in terms of headcount and process. This information underpinned key decisions by leadership.
  • When CBRE acquired GWS, there was an immediate need to restructure all central functions to create consistency across the business. Anna supported the central leads across EMEA, addressing different cultures and ways of working with minimal disruption.
  • Provided regular updates on the status of all consultations between local leaders and individuals to the vice-president of HR and the CEO.

Benefits and achievements

  • Half of Norland enrolled on “My Norland rewards” during the first week.
  • Since going live the scheme has seen: total spend: £2.8 million; total savings for employees: £266,000; and total orders placed: 22,924.
  • The Peopleapp is in use in the US, UK, Ireland and Singapore, with 900 forms completed since it began.
  • Following Peopleapp’s success, the revised and updated Peopleapp phase 2 was embedded into the local facilities management business.
  • After completing her CIPD Masters in Human Resource Management, Anna was promoted to an HR Business Partner in April 2016.
  • She built relationships with the EMEA leadership, which has enabled Anna to act as their trusted advisor during key changes and restructures. All restructures have been delivered to deadlines set by the leadership.
  • Anna recently managed the restructure of head office functions for three legacy businesses, guiding and supporting the teams, reducing headcount and supporting the managers through the process.

Judges’ comments
“Very comprehensive entry with a nice combination of projects and wider engagement work. Great to see data analytics forming an important part of the entry and her effort with her own development is commendable.”

CBRE’s Anna Haines collects her 2016 Rising Star trophy from Harvey Nash director Lisa Wormald.


Ashley Bray, Great Western Railway

About the organisation/individual 
Great Western Railway (GWR) is a train operating company owned by FirstGroup, managing 208 stations. Having joined the company 16 years ago as a customer host, Ashley’s experience and behavioural traits have led to his rising star status in the L&D field.

The challenge
Customer service training had become just a process: “recruit – train – deploy”. The team were process driven without insight to deliver more and motivation was low. Training needs analysis was poor or non-existent, the team was isolated and didn’t engage much with the business. The business’ geography, silo thinking, and high volume of technical rather than people-focused managers, meant opportunities for developing people were being missed.

What Ashley did

  • Used his widespread networking contacts to unveil his new offering and uncover training needs, simultaneously growing the professional reputation of his team.
  • Drove new best-practice training, supporting the team into a new era where trainers engage delegates using new standards rather than lecturing.
  • Introduced exception reporting, whereby the training team detail when someone is brilliant or has an issue.
  • Enabled trainers to use interactive whiteboards and introduced tablets to demonstrate apps to make learning more workplace-relevant, and to enable knowledge checks and feedback.
  • Introduced the Great Impressions First Training Programme (GIFT), with 1,200 engineering and control teams initiated in 2014. This customer services programme (created in partnership with Flybe airline) helps employees with internal/external customers.
  • Significantly advanced the training offering with imminent new IT training for 1,000 managers who rely on technology – increasing confidence and productivity; refresher training for longstanding employees; and wide-scale learning needs analysis – ensuring training is relevant and delivers ROI.

Benefits and achievements

  • Training quality has improved, with a recent evaluation of customer service courses showing 92% of colleagues performing well or exceeding expectations 12 weeks after attending.
  • With training spend per employee doubling over the course of a year, Ashley has played a key role in supporting, directing and evaluating the investment in colleague development.
  • Ashley’s training budget has increased by £100,000, a clear endorsement of the value placed in his new offering.
  • 95% of new hires said the induction programme helped them perform in their new role, 93% rated the induction and role-specific training as good, very good and excellent (based on 4,236 responses – 2015/16).
  • Direct savings have come from Ashley’s app for customer service assessments: reducing paper usage by 16,000 A4 sheets; saving >800 hours a year; and upskilling his team to bring more training in-house saving of more than £22,000.
  • Maximised ROI in training by ensuring training that would have previously been sourced locally is now shared business-wide.

Judges’ comments
“Ashley radically changed customer service training. He created a team identity, retrained the trainers in a new culture and got buy-in, structured training needs, brought in new technology, introduced e-learning and based the training approach on customer experience.”

Gemma Cook, Domestic & General

About the organisation

Gemma’s entry related to her former role at Totemic, a financial services company specialising in personal financial management services including insurance, mortgages and debt advice. The company has grown significantly since its small beginnings and now employs more than 1,000 people in the UK and 140 in Portugal.

The challenge
Managers were either handling employee relations issues on their own or referring everything to HR, no matter how small. This meant issues were being dealt with inconsistently or incorrectly, leaving the business exposed to risk. Additionally there was no performance management process and recruitment was done with minimal or no HR guidance or input.

What Gemma did

  • Created a new HR team with a business partner model. This team acts as a first point of contact for all employee relations and helps to embed new strategic initiatives.
  • Organised “HR surgeries” where line managers were trained in HR policy, providing examples to work through.
  • Introduced “mop-up” sessions for recently promoted managers and new starters so that everyone has the same level of understanding.
  • Cleansed existing data on the HR system and developed the system to deliver more accurate reporting, then delivered these reports at the monthly “People board”.
  • Designed and implemented a full performance management process.
  • Gained buy-in to bring recruitment under the remit of the HR team, ensuring a formal, legally compliant, consistent process across the business.

Benefits and achievements

  • Developed a preferred supplier list to create considerable savings across recruitment agency spend. Comparing the first quarters of 2015 and 2016, where recruitment activity was similar, there have been savings in excess of £15,000.
  • All managers have received in-house recruitment and selection training to ensure that all interviews/assessment centres are legally compliant and reflect best practice.
  • Totemic has been promoted as an employer of choice within the local community.
  • Worked with the Job Centre to support adults with learning difficulties into a work environment.
  • A dramatic reduction in settlement agreements, absence levels and recruitment spend.

Gemma Cook now works at Domestic & General.

Judges’ comments
“Gemma introduced new, more efficient HR processes, created an HR database, introduced a new company-wide and consistent performance management process and introduced a more efficient and lower cost recruitment process covering the whole company.”

Abigail Mawhirt, Dundee and Angus (D&A) College

About the organisation

D&A College was born out of the merger of Dundee College and Angus College in November 2013. With about 1,000 staff helping deliver a range of vocational and leisure courses, D&A College is a highly resourced organisation offering students the chance to study and train in cutting-edge facilities across campus sites in Dundee and Arbroath. More than 13,000 students are enrolled on full-time, part-time and flexible learning programmes.

The challenge
Having gone through the Scottish Further Education regionalisation process, significant changes to staffing took place. The further education landscape was shifting significantly, with experienced staff leaving, and new strategic national drivers for curriculum coming through thick and fast. There wasn’t enough attention on personal and professional development, or on systems and service development, and morale was low.

What Abigail did

  • Drew together the skills and personalities within the existing HR and operational development (HR&OD) team to realign service delivery, improve systems and improve the status and morale of the team.
  • Worked closely with senior staff, the HR&OD team and individuals to build a people-focused culture.
  • Transformed the way the team were working and delivered a more comprehensive and accessible service.
  • Built on her initial ideas to develop a robust, multi-skilled liaison role for advisers, to help them build good working relationships with the employees they serve.
  • Instigated a “rapid improvement event” to resolve barriers of outdated forms and underdeveloped systems left over from the merger.
  • Reviewed all systems and processes and agreed improved “lean” solutions, improving HR&OD’s satisfaction with systems and data and providing a better end user service for staff.
  • Created an online dashboard for managers, online holidays and CPD logs, as well as better reporting facilities for HR&OD and the teams they work with.

Benefits and achievements

  • Improved HR&OD data, the systems that the college uses and the highly people-focused service that the HR&OD team now provides.
  • The liaison model with teams has been highly valued by managers and individuals alike, with their interactions more frequent and meaningful.
  • Employees get a better experience by working with the same HR&OD colleagues through the employee life cycle.
  • HR advisers are now able to fulfil a wider HR function and provide a better service.
  • Morale is significantly improved and feeds the positive cycle of more confidence, better and engaging interactions with teams, which in turn boosts teams’ confidence in HR&OD’s services.
  • Abigail has proven her transferable skills quickly and confidently.

Judges’ comments
“Abigail took over to improve things. She set up multi-skilled teams and worked hard to improve relationships between HR advisers and customers.”

Kelly Patterson, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service

About the organisation
Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service is the statutory fire and rescue service responsible for Sefton, Knowsley, St. Helens, Liverpool and the Wirral.

The challenge
The Fire and Rescue Service has always been predominantly male – with this come issues in terms of engaging the workforce to discuss their mental health.

What Kelly did

  • Worked tirelessly in the mental health arena, developing the understanding of the workforce, training herself and challenging the stigma across the organisation.
  • Introduced a support programme for staff following exposure to traumatic events such as fatalities and serious injuries.
  • Been instrumental in leading Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), including training staff to deliver it.
  • Kelly leads the family liaison team. Family liaison officers were introduced in 2015 should the death of a colleague occur.
  • Initiatives were showcased at a regional “blue light” conference in 2016, planned and delivered by Kelly in collaboration with the national blue light team at the charity Mind.
  • Kelly is the lead stress risk assessor and has developed the proactive process. Assessors work with personnel to identify perceived stress and put in place actions to reduce these feelings prior to them becoming detrimental to the person’s health to the point they become absent from work due to stress.

Benefits and achievements 

  • In the three years since the programme began, more than 150 critical incidents have been declared with more than 450 staff being defused post-incident.
  • More than 13% of the workforce are trained in MHFA, enabling employees to recognise early signs and symptoms of mental ill health, make emergency interventions and signpost to support.
  • Kelly was contacted by other services for assistance with their mental health initiatives such as Merseyside Police, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service to further afield services such as Durham and Darlington Fire Service and Surrey Fire Service.
  • Assessments have been successful since 2009, with 97 individual stress risk assessments having been undertaken.
  • Sickness rate has improved – there is a direct link with the introduction of these mental health initiatives that were led and delivered through Kelly’s hard work, effort and determination.
  • Absentees due to mental ill health have historically been likely to stay absent for a longer period – absence statistics have decreased, of particular note, long-term sickness has decreased by more than 50%.

Judges’ comments
“Kelly certainly made a difference to team morale and to the business process approach as well as introducing a client liaison model.”

Dawn Tomlyn, East Sussex County Council

About the organisation
East Sussex County Council is the local authority for the non-metropolitan county of East Sussex. East Sussex is divided into five local government districts: Lewes, Wealden, Rother, Eastbourne and Hastings.

The challenge
Launched in 2015, Orbis is a groundbreaking partnership between East Sussex and Surrey county councils’ business functions. It covers approximately 1,400 people providing HR, finance, property, ICT, procurement and business operations for both organisations and many public and third-sector customers. Dawn was seconded into the programme team to support the culture change and service integration into the Orbis partnership.

What Dawn did

  • Designed and implemented a programme that produced a set of common behaviours across the partnership and leadership standards for Orbis.
  • Introduced a “mindfulness leadership” programme, and created a development regime to effectively support new ways of working for HR advisers.
  • Established a programme of customer service training in line with the Orbis vision.
  • Created a team spirit through a range of fundraising events.
  • Facilitated workshops which created the target operating model for Orbis.
  • Supported each service area to create a “common purpose” and an implementation plan for integration.
  • Created an integrated consultation and engagement group involving 15 trade unions.
  • Revolutionised the approach to development and performance, replacing the annual appraisal process.

Benefits and achievements 

  • Kevin Foster, chief operating officer, said: “Dawn has moved through the organisation to her various positions, always outside of her comfort zone and has quickly and effectively become invincible in her role.”
  • Leatham Green, director, people and change, said: “Dawn has been a central element of the OD and transformation team and has the greatest respect of colleagues, leaders, trade unions and politicians.”

Judges’ comments
“Dawn created a new business model for the functions, brought in more effective ways of management, created new personnel processes and set up extensive and robust communication to the whole organisation. Her work was a great success and led in addition to significant cost savings.”

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