HR Team of the Year 2016: Odeon & UCI Cinemas is just the ticket


HR Team of the Year? We look at the talented teams shortlisted for the HR Team of the Year Award, sponsored by Totaljobs, beginning with this year’s winner: Odeon & UCI Cinemas.


Odeon & UCI Cinemas

About the organisation
Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group is a leading pan-European cinema operator. It hosts over 90 million guests each year in 243 cinemas, and operates 2,238 screens, including premium large-format screens in partnership with IMAX, Dolby and premium brand, Isense.

The challenge
Colleagues felt that the business had no shared purpose and had little focus on development and recognition. Each territory was operating independently, and needed to be united to collaborate, communicate and perform better.

HR Team of the Year – the judges

Alan Warner, Albany OD
David Amos, Clinical Consulting

What the organisation did

  • Created a clear vision and set of values and communicated across territories to develop a sense of collective purpose.
  • Appointed a new chief people officer to drive change in the group’s HR strategy; uniting HR teams into one function and embedding a high-performance culture to help achieve the group’s vision and targets.
  • Took an Ask-Listen-Plan-Act approach to reviewing feedback and defined a high-performing culture plan. “Our Colleague Journey” outlined a commitment to colleagues at every stage of their career.
  • Developed products for each stage that are innovative, bespoke to the company and are underpinned by its vision and values.
  • Engaged with the whole team to ensure colleague feedback from all countries was incorporated in the design.

Benefits and achievements

  • Record-breaking financial performance in 2015, with revenue up by 20%.
  • Odeon regained the number one box office position in UK and extended its market share over competitors in Spain and Italy.
  • Organisational Health Index in 2016 had an increased participation rate of 96%, and the score increased dramatically from 56 (in 2014) to 76 (in 2016). This moved Odeon from third quartile to top quartile in just two years, with consistent improvement across all categories and territories.
  • The work to engage colleagues has had a direct impact on the company’s performance – net promoter scores are improving year on year.
  • The company has also undertaken: 5,000 hours of feedback conversations; 450 internal promotions (one in seven people were promoted); and 45,000 hours of guest service training.

Judges’ comments
“Very impressive approach to connecting HR activities with improved outcomes for the company.”

The HR Team of the Year 2016: Odeon and UCI Cinemas

The HR Team of the Year 2016: Odeon and UCI Cinemas


City of Wolverhampton College

About the organisation
City of Wolverhampton College is a further education college located in Wolverhampton, West Midlands. It was formed in September 1999.

The challenge
In the Wolverhampton community, one in five residents has no qualifications, and participation in higher education is less than 20%. Prior to 2016, the college was facing increasing financial losses, culminating in a £10 million loss in 2012. The same year, the college received an inadequate grading from Ofsted for financial health and quality, and payroll costs were over 70% of turnover (the sector average is 62-64%). Communications were non-existent and there was no confidence in the leadership team.

What the organisation did

  • Identified two key priorities: reduce the organisation’s financial liabilities by 2013; and improve quality of performance.
  • Introduced the term “in the business of education”. Strengthened the HR team with external-qualified appointments.
  • Involved all the HR team in training, guiding and mentoring managers.
  • Trained managers on managing: informal grievances; sickness; policies; performance; change; building resilience; and safer recruitment.
  • Developed an HR strategy through discussion forums with managers, staff, and unions. Teams were asked what they did not want to lose, and what they wanted to change.
  • Used an employee engagement framework to build a strategy. Agreed the strategy, and produced updates for governors outlining progress. Confirmed the strategic intentions to staff and placed the new HR strategy on the intranet.
  • Re-wrote policies in plain English. Encouraged staff to comment on policies prior to implementation.
  • Fostered a transparent and respectful relationship with unions.

Benefits and achievements

  • Improved employee surveys response rate from 33% to 71%.
  • Introduced employee assistance, salary sacrifice, discount purchasing, and long service. Restructured holidays so that support staff could increase their holidays to 32 days.
  • Reduced spend on casual workforce from £2.3 million per year to £97,000 in 2015/16, which led to greater job security and improved quality.
  • Improved quality of teaching – in lesson observations, 88% of lessons were good or better with an increase to 97% following training interventions.
  • Wolverhampton now ranks in the UK top 15% of colleges.

Judges’ comments
“Root and branch overhaul of HR practice, approach and systems, with trade union involvement. Very impressive outcomes with regard to cost reduction and workforce-related performance.”

Flagship Group

About the organisation
The Flagship Group is a not-for-profit housing association, providing homes for people in need. It has 550 employees working for Flagship Homes, RFT Services and Flagship Group support services.

The challenge
Three years ago, the HR team were a standalone “policing” function. Their focus was on enforcing the policies and being an admin function. The HR team would often remain in the office and was perceived as only visiting other departments to deliver corporate news about changes. The team felt disconnected from the business. HR needed to become a strategic and operational business partner, aligning itself to the business priorities.

What the organisation did

  • Developed a people strategy (the Flagship Way) that underpinned and reflected the ambitions of the business strategy. It focused on five key work streams:  leadership and management in action; setting people up for success; pipelines to grow talent; attractive employee proposition; and an agile and progressive organisation.
  • Designed, developed and delivered sustainable initiatives for each work stream, working with business partners to understand the nature of their business and their needs, wants and challenges.
  • Developed an understanding of the continuous improvement methodology, ensuring the HR team is one of the first support functions to actively use the methods.

Benefits and achievements

  • Supported the set-up and development of a £40 million in-house direct labour organisation, which involved TUPEing in 200 staff from five different businesses.
  • Designed and implemented a talent management process to enable growth through people, supporting the development of leadership skills and measuring staff understanding of the Flagship Way.
  • Developed and delivered an in-house leadership development programme, aligned to the continuous improvement model. Leaders are now taken through a 14-day programme over 15 weeks to develop their leadership skills.
  • Designed and delivered an in-house staff satisfaction survey to understand and improve employee engagement.
  • Developed the team’s legal knowledge, resulting in 50% reduction in legal fees and fewer instances of litigation.
  • Set up and managed an in-house apprentice programme for 15 trade and office apprentices.

Judges’ comments
“A good performance with a contribution to savings.”

JT Group

About the organisation

JT Group provides telecommunications services and internet access across the Channel Islands. It has a 120-year heritage and employs over 600 staff in 11 global locations.

The challenge

Five years ago, JT Group was in serious decline, unable to cope with the commercial nature of new competitors and lacking innovation and diversification. Other challenges included: a heavily unionised local workforce; outdated HR practices; minimal career development opportunities; a lack of understanding of discrimination; and an island-centric culture at odds with global growth.

What the organisation did

  • Built a new cloud global HR solution and made it available to all colleagues, whatever their location – moving from an outdated, unreliable HR system that had no global capacity.
  • Created a full business partner service, strategically placed at the core of all business activities.
  • Invested in the growth, development and professional competence of JT’s workforce, with a budget of around £1,000 per head.
  • Introduced best practice for discrimination, ahead of it being introduced in Jersey in 2014.
  • Committed to employee wellbeing by introducing a “Wellbeing Zone”, a portal through which all staff are able to get support on all aspects of welfare.
  • Continued work with the union using collaboration, boldness and perseverance to move them from being change averse to understanding the reasons for change.
  • Led an employee forum to consult on improvements needed around the business, thereby improving employee happiness, engagement and motivation.

Benefits and achievements

  • Globally placed business partners now provide a proactive, valued support service.
  • JT employees give a great customer experience and fuel continued company success in an inspiring working environment.
  • Increased productivity through better performance and attitude levels.
  • In the last Best Companies staff engagement survey, a majority of JT employees reported that they were happy with the balance between their work and home life, which has improved notably since 2012/13.
  • Raised Best Companies scores across all categories.
  • Awarded Best Companies’ “ones to watch” accreditation, with the HR team the only three-star division in the entire company, based on the last Best Companies Times Top 100 Places to Work results.

Judges’ comments
“Significant business improvement from HR overhaul of practice working in a very competitive environment.”

Loughborough College

About the organisation

Loughborough College is a college in Leicestershire offering a range of courses including further education, higher education, apprenticeships and professional qualifications. It has more than 11,000 students and 900 staff members.

The challenge

The new head of HR inherited a “crisis of indeterminable size” when he arrived in January 2014. The immediate imperative was to determine whether the systems and processes were broken, the staff were poor – or both. It soon became clear that the staff were dedicated and motivated. All they lacked was direction and leadership.

What the organisation did

  • Developed a business-focused HR strategy, which, through consultation with the team and staff, was completed quickly.
  • Facilitated a college restructure, which put more than 350 staff at risk of redundancy. Undertook intense training, equipping the team with a core understanding of redundancy requirements.
  • Introduced the framework for an HR operations manual, aiming to document all HR processes, facilitate HR skill development and provide consistency.
  • Replaced paper-based, inefficient recruitment processes with an online system, creating a seamless process for potential candidates.
  • Transferred responsibility for health and safety and internal communications to the HR team, encompassing recruitment, employee relations, occupational health, training and development and payroll.
  • Designed and implemented a health and wellbeing framework that has been rolled out across the college. There are three strands – the “three As” – assessment, awareness and assistance.
  • Introduced a performance development framework, which brings competencies and succession planning to the appraisal process.

Benefits and achievements

  • The HR team now provides the governing body with an annual report detailing key people measures and containing the HR team’s work plan and focus. It ensures that HR is seen at all levels of the organisation.
  • Increased visibility of the HR team due to a bi-weekly HR drop-in session. It takes place across a range of campus sites, ensuring that HR “gets out of the office” and interacts with employees in their place of work.
  • Sickness absence reduced by 20%, which equates to a financial amount of £150,000 – notwithstanding the improvement in staff health.
  • Staff turnover reduced by 7%, not only saving around £50,000 in time to recruit new staff and bring them up to speed, but also ensuring greater continuity for students – therefore enhancing their college experience.
  • Improvement in skills, knowledge and business awareness has had a positive and significant quantitative and qualitative impact on the organisation.

Judges’ comments
“Faced with major challenges, a very impressive approach to managing change with innovative techniques, including towards health and wellbeing, with excellent results.”

Ministry of Justice HR Casework Team

About the organisation
The HR Casework Team within the Ministry of Justice supplies a HR casework service to 28% of the civil service, across 25 government departments.

The challenge
Prior to 2013, HR Casework was delivered across the civil service by HR teams within each department. The civil service Next Generation HR Strategy identified a need to make significant savings, reduce duplication and increase efficiency by reducing HR headcount, while maintaining quality.

What the organisation did

  • Established itself as the preferred supplier of HR casework for small and medium-sized departments within the civil service.
  • Embraced cross-departmental working and expanded client base by 257%.
  • Developed a service model offering advice, HR guidance and support through telephone and/or email advice; ongoing telephone and email help; and face-to-face support.
  • Reduced new client onboarding period from six months to four, allowing for a more efficient transition.
  • Created a new charging model, which ensured that charging and costs fit around varying client needs.
  • Encouraged a proactive team of engagement champion volunteers who act as a communication channel between staff and senior management, as well as suggesting and supporting internal changes.
  • Embraced The Way We Work model. This approach provides employees with the choice of where to work, as well as allowing employees to flex their core working hours in order to meet individual and business needs.
  • Created client engagement managers to liaise regularly with clients and ensure their needs and expectations are being met.
  • Delivered bespoke training to staff on coaching over a series of sessions.

Benefits and achievements

  • Team-related engagement scores in 2015 rose to 90% positive responses.
  • Delivered savings in excess of £2 million per annum.
  • Developed line managers’ competence and confidence in dealing with people-management issues.
  • Provided a quality professional advice service; last year, 2,908 of managers supported rated the service as “excellent” (67%).
  • Approximately 28% of all civil servants are now covered by the service, and the team has extended beyond the civil service to support public servants.
  • The expertise in coaching has enabled case managers to support line managers in becoming more confident in dealing with complex HR queries, leading to seven out of 10 managers rating the service as excellent.
  • Client engagement managers have contributed towards 2,908 of managers in the last year rating the service as excellent, with satisfaction levels continuing to rise year on year.
  • In 2015, The MoJ Permanent Secretary recognised the MoJ Casework Team as having the most impact across the Government.

Judges’ comments
“Impressive development of HR support, supporting managers to deliver major workforce reform, with a notable high level of client appreciation of services.”

Rentokil Initial

About the organisation
Rentokil Initial is a multinational business services company focused on pest control, hygiene and workwear, as well as a range of other smaller services including: plants; medical services; property care; and specialist hygiene. It has over a million customers from large multinational pharmaceutical companies, to local restaurants and private homes.

The challenge
Approximately 90% of the organisation’s employees are field based with limited access to technology – the ability to provide learning at point of need is critical – but the business cannot afford to bring everyone off the road to provide classroom training. Additionally, Rentokil’s employees converse in over 31 different languages, with more than 60% of the organisation unable to speak English.

What the organisation did

  • Embarked on a challenging journey to transform the way that the organisation conducted learning.
  • Created a new brand and strategy around development, called “U+”. The intention was to move away from classroom training to a new era of blended learning, which would allow employees to develop at their own pace using digital resources.
  • Implemented a new social learning platform.
  • Reduced health and safety incidents with a range of innovative content delivered to all employees. Collaborated extensively with over 40 local leads, and pushed the boundaries on learning by utilising modern technology such as 3D interactive games and videos.
  • Implemented an HR/L&D apprenticeship programme.
  • Developed “myLearning” – a customer training platform driving revenue and customer retention.

Benefits and achievements

  • Reduced spending on external suppliers by over £1.2 million in 12 months.
  • Supported the implementation of our new LMS saving a further £1 million in the last 12 months
  • Increased organic revenue by £80,000 in six months with the myLearning offering.
  • Produced 482 learning objects for the business and created a further 700 translated items.
  • Raised the uptake of learning in the business by more than 7000%, delivering over 1.2m learning interventions in the last 12 months.
  • Increased the net promoter score for learning and development by five points (to 8.2).
  • Reduced accidents in the workplace to the lowest level in eight years.

Judges’ comments
“A complex environment  and excellent results.”


About the organisation

TrustFord is part of the Ford Retail Group, owned by Ford Motor Company. As well as managing its Ford franchise operation for new cars and commercial vehicles, TrustFord runs as a multi-franchise for used cars, used commercial vehicles, aftersales and parts. With a total turnover of £1.7 billion, the group sells around 100,000 vehicles per annum.

The challenge

In 2013, TrustFord identified an increasing number of newcomers leaving within the first six months of employment. The dropout rate brought challenges in continuity of business and high recruitment costs. Exit interview data demonstrated that the way colleagues were introduced to the business was inconsistent and left some newcomers feeling detached.

What the organisation did

  • Invested in an annual training budget of £1.8 million, recognising that the happiness of colleagues and being an Employer of Choice is fundamental to its success.
  • Launched the Induction Academy in October 2014.
  • Managed, coordinated and hosted by HR, the Academy is held fortnightly. It is designed as a full-immersion residential on-boarding course, where all new colleagues receive comprehensive training on the business and its culture.
  • Gave comprehensive training including information on: company history; benefits; risk assessments; marketing; health and safety; along with a welcome message from CEO, Steve Hood.
  • Created personalised plans that form part of a six-month review programme and included training courses and monthly meetings with line managers. In a very short period, the Induction Academy has demonstrated positive results, improving retention and increasing engagement with new colleagues.
  • Collectively identified the standards and shared values that drive the business and engage every colleague to work towards strong customer satisfaction. To this end, in 2015 TrustFord launched PPA (Purpose, Principles and Ambition).

Benefits and achievements

  • In 2015, 880 new starters attended the academy, including those already in the company who had been promoted or switched role.
  • Annual staff turnover reduced from 26% in 2014 to 22% in 2015. TrustFord is committed to reducing it to 20% this year.
  • Recruitment spend dropped from £526,955 in 2014 to £390,059 in 2015.
  • Since the academy was launched, there has been a 45% reduction in new starters leaving the business within six months of joining.
  • Annual staff turnover reduced from 26% in 2014 to 22% in 2015, with a 45% reduction in new starters leaving in first six months.
  • Apprentice retention: having served apprenticeships, over 90% remain in permanent employment.
  • Reduced grievances: 24 grievances in 2013 reduced to just 14 in 2015.
  • In recognition of its dedication to being an employer of choice, TrustFord was listed in the top 25 Sunday Times Best Large Companies to Work For in 2016.

Judges’ comments
“Impressive induction programme as part of wider retention strategy with demonstrable improvements in workforce-related indicators.”

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