PT Awards 2013 winners: Direct Line awarded for Excellence in HR through Technology

Direct Line collect their Personnel Today Award in 2013.
Direct Line collect their Award for Excellence in HR Through Technology in 2013.

Direct Line Group scooped the Award for Excellence in HR through peoplefluentTechnology, sponsored by Peoplefluent, at the Personnel Today Awards on Monday, its second award of the night.  Here we look at Direct Line’s entry and those of the runners-up in this category.

 


Direct Line

About the organisation

Direct Line Group’s household name insurance brands include Direct Line, Churchill, Privilege, Green Flag, Tracker and ING. The group is in the middle of separating from RBS Group, which is scheduled to complete at the end of 2014.

The challenge

Judges
Jon Ingham
, executive consultant, Strategic Dynamics Consultancy Services
Peter Gold, founder, Peter Gold Consulting

Direct Line Group needed to build a standalone HR infrastructure and establish operational independence by June 2012, with a view to floating the business later that year. Key to this was setting up new systems, processes and migrating data from RBS in time for the first “independent” payroll in 2012, and to support future developments.

What the organisation did

  • Set up a project team to work alongside existing teams and to design processes and systems appropriate for the new operating model.
  • Sourced, implemented and integrated new systems for: HCM; payroll; benefits; resourcing; case management; knowledge management; and learning management.
  • Designed and implemented a new Direct Line Group careers website.
  • Redesigned HR intranet to incorporate new branding and to support new policies and processes.
  • Built interfaces between different vendors’ systems so they could share information.
  • Ensured that new systems should be “software as a service” (saas), hosted externally and not requiring major systems development.
  • With the key system Workday, Direct Line Group has become part of a wider community of users and shares knowledge.

Benefits and achievements

  • Delivery of new HR infrastructure meant October 2012 IPO was possible.
  • Using a saas solution means the company can be more flexible if the needs of the business change.
  • There is a greater ability to draw down data used for decision making.
  • Data is accessible via tablets and mobile phones, so HR or line managers can access it anywhere.
  • Ultimately all 15,000 employees will have direct access to the system, removing paper transactions.

Judge’s comments

“Bold, ambitious, leading-edge technology, with strategic value to the business.” – Peter Gold

The other shortlisted finalists in the 2013 Award for Excellence in HR through Technology were as follows:


RSA

About the organisation
The RSA Group is one of the UK’s largest and longest-established commercial insurance companies. It caters for the insurance and risk management needs of a wide range of businesses and is also one of the country’s top motor and household insurers through its More Th>n brand.

The challenge

RSA has a long history of working with communities, and “giving something back” is a key driver of employee engagement. The company wanted to use social media technology to “applaud” employees for a job well done,  through adopting a pioneering approach to employee recognition and corporate social responsibility.

What the organisation did:

  • Created two interlinked web portals, optimised for mobiles, called Spotlight and Every One Fund.
  • Spotlight allows staff at all levels to “applaud” another individual, with more than 37,000 posted since launch.
  • Both manager and staff receive a notification email, and the manager can follow up this praise through a small gift.
  • Leaders are able to access reports on recognition of staff.
  • Top 200 Spotlight “heroes” are invited to an annual awards ceremony.
  • Every One Fund is a dedicated website collating all employees’ charitable efforts, linked to the Spotlight tool.

Benefits and achievements

  • Named the best financial services company to work for by the Sunday Times and Best Companies.
  • Employee engagement has improved.
  • Improved customer service – more than half of the “applauses” on Spotlight have been for “brilliant service”.

Judge’s comments

“Good, innovative solutions linked to strategic priorities.” –  Jon Ingham


Superdrug

About the organisation

Superdrug was founded in 1964, and since 2002 has been part of the AS Watson industrial and retailing conglomerate. It is the UK’s second-largest beauty and health retailer, with more than 900 stores and 226 in-store pharmacies.

The challenge

With so many stores and 14,000 staff, it had become a real challenge to keep everyone in the loop of Superdrug’s business plans and strategy. The company also needed to reduce printing and paper used in communications, and improve dialogue with colleagues. It created an online portal known as The Hub.

What the organisation did

  • Assembled a team to manage the creation of The Hub; this was managed by HR, with the structure and architecture built by a former internal communications manager.
  • Trained staff to manage their own department pages and migrated data from previous locations to the new site.
  • Led engagement and communication campaign across the business to get staff buy-in for the portal and drive traffic.
  • Held events such as café sessions, staff engagement briefings, drop-in sessions, teaser campaigns and a naming competition.

Benefits and achievements

  • HR and internal communications departments have saved around £60,000 on printing alone.
  • Key suppliers plan colleague training on The Hub to support the launches of new ranges in stores – for example, product knowledge tests.
  • Staff can try new products and review them on the site, gaining knowledge in an informal way.
  • Employees can discover more about how other departments work and submit ideas directly to their managing director.

Judge’s comments

“Interesting solution, implemented in a very novel, engaging way.” – Jon Ingham


Standard Life

About the organisation

Standard Life is a long-term savings and investment business, with headquarters in Edinburgh and operations across the globe. It has 1.5 million shareholders in more than 50 countries and more than 6 million customers.

The challenge

Standard Life’s strategy was refreshed in 2010, and central to this was creating an HR function that would support and enable its overall vision. After a failed implementation of an HR system in 2008, HR needed to drive a fresh, technology-led transformation in how it worked.

What the organisation did

  • Came up with three-phase programme, the People Change Programme.
  • Aligned people function teams to the employee lifecycle model to improve processes and reduce operating costs.
  • Delivered Oracle’s core HR, payroll, absence management, employee and manager self-service functionality within 10 months.
  • Implemented a third-party managed service to address skills gaps.
  • Decommissioned redundant systems.
  • Launched Fusion talent management system, including new performance management practices, flexible pay matrix and the ability to link performance and reward.
  • Delivered new recruitment and learning capabilities through Taleo software.

Benefits and achievements

  • Cash savings of £3.2 million made up of FTE savings, operational savings and decommissioning.
  • Reduced headcount by 17%, with further 12% reduction expected by end of 2013.
  • Reduced IT support and technology costs.
  • Introduced paperless payslips, creating increased efficiency and more security.
  • On track to achieve return on investment of 32% within four years.
  • Reduced risk by removing heavily customised systems.
  • The people function can concentrate on value-added activities and improving customer experience.

Judge’s comments

“I particularly liked the human communication approach. Some great benefits achieved.” – Jon Ingham


Birmingham City Council

About the organisation

Birmingham City Council is the largest local authority in the UK and one of the largest public-sector employers in Europe, employing around 18,000 staff.

The challenge

Already faced with spending cuts of £212.8 million, the introduction of the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR) in October 2011 threatened to add around 30%, or £4 million, to Birmingham’s wage bill. The council wanted to reduce the risk of non-compliance, identify opportunities for staff facing redundancy and lower costs.

What the organisation did

  • Developed the Agency Gateway System, a web-enabled agency management system.
  • This system would ensure compliance with AWR, consolidate management information (MI) and identify opportunities for staff facing redundancy.
  • Engaged with high-volume agency worker groups, finance/procurement teams, and contracted supplier agencies.
  • Levied a 1% agency surcharge to finance the creation of the system.
  • Engaged with different directorates to ensure buy-in, with managers becoming “champions” for the system.
  • Published weekly updates and launched an email campaign targeting managers, as well as workshops for high-volume agency users.

Benefits and achievements

  • Mitigated litigation risk associated with AWR through customised reporting and no dispute claims.
  • Saved around £4.5 million in agency costs, equaling a £107 return on every pound spent.
  • Projected savings in cost of agency workers of £1.6 million – now employs around 800 agency workers on pay-between-assignments basis.
  • Twenty-six “priority movers” have been placed in posts previously occupied by agency workers, saving around £858,000 in redundancy costs.
  • Reduced supplier costs by around £400,000 through enhanced negotiation.

Judge’s comments

“Well thought out, very specific with clear ROI.” – Peter Gold


Tesco Stores Ltd

About the organisation

Supermarket chain Tesco is the second-largest retailer in the world, measured by profits. It is based in the UK and operates across 12 international markets, employing more than 530,000 people.

The challenge

Tesco wanted to improve the way the 3,000 employees in its finance operations gathered knowledge and communicated with each other. It wanted to create a global online learning platform that would connect colleagues globally and build an international community of best practice.

What the organisation did

  • Brought together stakeholders from IT security, Tesco online and finance departments to work on the concept.
  • Gathered feedback from a user acceptance testing group.
  • Built the foundations of the site, including templates for every finance job at Tesco, e-learning modules, technical library and induction materials.
  • Engaged subject matter experts to write the modules, despite heavy demands on their time.
  • Pre-launch marketing campaign with the message: “Get involved”.

Benefits and achievements

  • Staff can self-assess against their personal development plan; they can look at areas to focus on and prepare for moves to other departments as part of career progression.
  • Learning tools are globally consistent and can be shared.
  • Communities can connect and share ideas.
  • Solid global induction to finance at Tesco.

Judge’s comments

“Good learning system… I’d like to have seen information about take-up and improvement in learning taking place.” – Jon Ingham


Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

About the organisation

The Countess of Chester is the main NHS hospital for Chester and its surrounding area. It has around 600 beds, general medical departments and a 24-hour accident and emergency unit. The trust has almost 4,000 staff and provides a range of medical services to more than 445,000 patients per year.

The challenge

The HR team at the Countess of Chester wanted to use its HR and payroll systems to support decision making, planning and assurance. Data from its existing Oracle system was not being triangulated with other information to produce proactive trends analysis, and the trust wanted to address this.

What the organisation did

  • Strong project focus, sponsored by director of HR and OD, as well as shared services team.
  • Produced a set of data showing workforce trends over the past five years, which included a complete analysis of workforce across several categories, presented in a number of different graphical ways.
  • Created evidence and assurance reports for the NHS Litigation Authority Assessment (NHSLA), which happened in February 2013.
  • Used analytics to find out reasons behind high agency spend and staff shortages in the emergency department, then identified actions to address these issues.
  • Created an accurate picture of absence levels and combined this with a more proactive approach to occupational health in supporting staff to return to work.
  • Worked with finance departments to look at recruitment needs and spend.

Benefits and achievements

  • The trust has been able to undertake more strategic workforce planning through visibility of recruitment hot spots and risks.
  • Reduction in absence rate from 4.25% (2012) to 3.55% (2013).
  • Passed the NHSLA Level 3 with score of 49/50 – annual saving of £500,000.
  • Agency spend reduced by £1 million; fully-staffed emergency department during the critical winter period.
  • Established a shared HR and payroll service across two NHS Foundation Trusts, leading to £350,000 savings across both organisations.

Judge’s comments

“Specific business issues, clear project focus and strong financial results.” Peter Gold

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