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Ruth Busby of rail operator GWR was named HR Director of the Year for her work in ensuring that HR truly partnered with the business during the pandemic. We look at her winning entry and those of our other finalists.
Ruth Busby, GWR
Just months after rail company GWR launched a new service offer in late 2019, it lost 95% of its customer base and trains and stations were empty thanks to the pandemic. Employees were naturally worried about their job security and the future of rail. HR director Ruth Busby ensured that HR truly partnered with the business and put people at the heart of all decisions.
This included: increased communications and senior leader visibility; guidance for managers; engaging with trade unions on safety measures and ways of working; increased reporting and insights; strong leadership and ensuring colleagues felt engaged and listened to. Managers received bi-weekly updates so they could cascade information to their teams, and every four weeks a director shared updates and answered questions.
Ruth put in place a comprehensive Covid testing regime so driver training could continue and moved the company’s onboarding and learning sessions online. No GWR staff were furloughed during the pandemic, and employees could access ‘YourSpace’, a platform for knowledge and personal development. In its annual YourVoice engagement survey, engagement went up from 83% to 87%, empowerment went up four percentage points to 66%, and the feeling that senior leaders could explain the reasons behind important decisions grew significantly from 11% to 59%. Within her own HR team, Ruth achieved a record engagement score of 99%.
Judges were impressed with the agile and responsive use of communications, and the fact that GWR did not furlough any staff.
Alison Daymond, Adastra HR
Alison Daymond is managing director of consultancy Adastra HR, boasting an impressive CV with more than 20 years’ experience in the public and private sectors. Eight years ago she set up her own company that now has an eight-strong team of consultants supporting clients all over the world.
Customers are encouraged to think of Adastra as their outsourced HR team, and the company’s expertise covers not just HR but also employment law, health and safety, culture and team dynamics, change management, coaching and reward. The team was set up to hit the ground running during the pandemic