Through scale, effectiveness and thought leadership, Personnel Today’s judges said Irwin Mitchell was ‘on top of its game’. Here, we outline the successful entry and look at the impressive submissions by the runners-up in this tightly contested category.
Irwin Mitchell’s 70 lawyers operate as a genuine national group with a strong team ethic. Following the Covid pandemic, HR professionals are now dealing with the ripple effects such as its impact on wellbeing and mental health, along with the challenges and opportunities around hybrid working. Irwin Mitchell has proactively supported HR teams to anticipate and navigate these challenges. Last year it launched a high profile campaign highlighting workplace issues surrounding menopause. A survey by renowned GP and menopause specialist Dr Louise Newson found that 99% of respondents thought perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms had led to a negative impact on their careers. Almost 20% were off more than eight weeks and half of this group resigned or took early retirement. Irwin Mitchell was among the first firms to see this as a diversity issue with increasing employment tribunal claims emerging, it acted on it proactively ahead of the parliamentary review to explore if more legal protection is needed.
At the heart of its campaign was an Irwin Mitchell report which included the results of a YouGov survey of 1,000 UK-based HR professionals. The campaign has included webinars (attended by 300 HR professionals) and podcasts, discussing what businesses can do to better support their menopausal employees and why there is a business case to doing so. The firm has also made two free guides available to deal with the menopause at work, including a free template menopause policy.
Its overall strategy has helped Irwin Mitchell grow its client base and gain new work from existing clients. Fee income in the past three years has grown from £6m to £9m.
Disrupting a largely traditional legal sector, ESP HR has played a key role in revolutionising the way that HR, ER, and employment law interact. Rejecting previously fragmented ways of working, and instead bringing to the fore technology that facilitates a joined-up approach – the company has enabled its customers to work more collaboratively and strategically to meet with their goals.
Taking a personal approach to customer service, esphr has worked closely with Entain, one of the world’s largest sports betting and gaming groups — taking time to embed itself within the organisation via in-house ER training, as well as collaborating to further develop a market-leading ER case management software-as-a-service solution to closely meet its employment tribunal needs. This led to the launch of new ET reporting claims functionality, which was later rolled out to ESP HR’s entire customer base.
The impact of ESP HR’s support is evidenced in the transformational impact the service and software has had overall.
Entain is the source of a number of referrals which has seen ESP HR win several major customers – including well-known brands such as Greene King and PVH. This intention to challenge the status quo has seen the team innovate, collaborate, and share skills in a way that hasn’t been usual in the sector. Recognising the pitfalls that businesses face when seeking legal counsel, and the barrier that escalating costs can place to obtaining that advice, spurred ESP HR on to create something better. When it comes to customers, the team’s approach is not transactional, but strategic – developing and implementing solutions and guidance that not only help in the here and now, but also drive improvements across the wider business.
Trowers & Hamlins
The team at Trowers & Hamlins has a clear purpose: to help its clients proactively meet their challenges head on and become employers of the future. With HR clients including household names such as Costco, Moonpig and Betfair; sector specialists such as National Autistic Society and charities such as Save the Children UK, RNID and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, the firm has sought to fully engage with organisations about the rapidly changing workplace.
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The relationship between employer and employee is changing and clients (across all sectors) face immense challenges to recruit and retain talented staff, and successfully respond to the changing dynamics in the workplace. Clients say they want to invest their time focusing on strategic people solutions, to be inclusive, responsible and successful. They are concerned about challenges such as maintaining culture across a hybrid or a fully flexible working environment, removing systemic barriers to inclusion and keeping up with technological change. They want their businesses to be more efficient and address productivity.
In response, Trowers & Hamlins has aligned its legal support to address these issues and provide the right balance of practical advice and progressive thinking, developing the theme of ’employer of the future’ to drive all of its interactions with clients.
The Winckworth Sherwood team is passionate about giving active and creative advice (and training) to assist clients to achieve their goals. In particular with the growing adherence to ESG requirements across all sectors, it has focused on outcomes that have both commercial and ethical considerations and credence. Retention and attractiveness to candidates has been very challenging for clients in a highly competitive work environment where strong governance and leadership with vision as to how and where their workforces want to work and contribute has become increasingly important for clients and the policies they are implementing.
Winckworth Sherwood has been a key contributor to clients’ decisions around hybrid working. Clients have needed support as they restructure their workforce as well as advice on group and individual consultations as key management realignment and more broader workforce changes have had to be implemented to future proof their businesses. A number of the firm’s teams have worked hand-in-hand with management teams to take them through and support them in planning and implementation of their decision making, communications and processes as essential, sometimes, critical and urgent steps, have been needed to move their businesses back to productivity.
Working with its clients (rather than simply for them) has enabled Winckworth Sherwood to add value, gain a fuller understanding of what those clients consider to be important and which are fundamental to the navigation of myriad complex issues which have arisen in these unique times.
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