PT Awards 2013 winners: Virgin Money is HR Team of the Year

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Virgin Money scooped HR Team of the Year at the Personnel Today Awards 2013 on Monday night. The category, sponsored by Monster, recognises an HR function that has made a significaqnt impact on the organisation. Here we profile Virgin Money’s entry, and also look at the entries from our runners-up.

Alan Warner, director, Alan Warner Associates.
David Amos, independent consultant.
Robert Aldrich, group HR director, Nationwide Building Society.

Virgin Money

About the organisation

Virgin Money is a UK-based bank and financial services company owned by the Virgin Group and founded by Sir Richard Branson in March 1995. At the beginning of 2012, it acquired Northern Rock in a deal worth up to £1 billion. Its ambition is to make “everyone better off” (EBO).

The challenge

The year 2012 was a transformational one for Virgin Money, including rebranding, opening new stores and fully integrating systems. The challenge for HR was to create a platform for future growth by delivering a major change programme, after the workforce had increased by 2,500 employees overnight.

What the organisation did

  • Agreed schedule of work, including harmonising terms and conditions.
  • Implemented new senior executive structure and executive team from day one.
  • Introduced flexible benefits and new, more transparent pay structure, and harmonised pension scheme.
  • Introduced 27 new integrated HR policies, communicated in staff-friendly style.
  • Integrated HR and payroll systems.
  • Communicated the changes to staff via series of launch events, brochures, factsheets, town hall meetings and a helpline.
  • Union recognition at all sites; change programme gained full support of Unite and employee forum.
  • “Your New Virgin Money” workshops offered for all staff to understand brand, culture and values.

Benefits and achievements

  • 99.6% of staff signed up to the new terms and conditions.
  • 68% of staff have chosen to change their core benefits package after the introduction of flexible benefits.
  • 94% of staff said launch workshops equipped them with the cultural tools to help build a better kind of bank.
  • Reduced mortgage offer turnarounds from 28 days to 20, through moving colleagues from 35 hour-per-week contracts to 37.5 hours.
  • In 2011, only 28% of Northern Rock staff recommended it as a place to work; this increased to 73% in 2012.
  • Staff turnover reduced from 11% to 7%; absence rates down to 2.7%.
  • HR declared “team of the year” by Virgin Money executive team.
Virgin Money - 2013 HR Team of the Year

Virgin Money collect their trophy for 2013 HR Team of the Year

 

Judge’s comments

“Impressive business outcomes.” – Alan Warner

 


Travis Perkins

About the organisation

The Travis Perkins Group is a British builders’ merchant and home improvement retailer. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange, and has expanded rapidly over the last six years to become a highly successful £5 billion business, operating 17 separate brands.

The challenge

Although the group was enjoying rapid growth, this had been through the acquisition of significantly different businesses. HR tended to be reactive and not as effective as the increasing size of the business demanded. Travis Perkins needed a model that would align the businesses but be tailored to their own needs.

What the organisation did

  • Moved from traditional “personnel” model to the Ulrich model of business partners and centres of expertise.
  • Created an HR business partner (HRBP) role for each operating division: each supported one to four businesses.
  • Integrated HRBPs quickly by listening to those in the business, working the way they worked, talking in their language and applying their dress code.
  • Developed HR shared services: payroll, HR administration, employee relations, management information and safety.
  • New areas for talent and communications added and reward introduced as the business need developed.

Benefits and achievements

  • HR is consistently rated as best overall function in independent review of all central functions.
  • Since 2007, Travis Perkins has grown from a FTSE 120 company to a FTSE 87.
  • Branch numbers up from 1,050 to 1,917; sales up from £3.1 billion to £5 billion.
  • Sustainable HR model has helped the company to achieve reduction of costs of sales ratio from 0.25% to 0.18%.
  • Group engagement score up from 60% in 2011 to 65% in 2013.

Judge’s comments

“Impressive, cost-effective deployment of HR business partners and reduction in HR costs as percentage of sales.” – David Amos

 


Royal Mail

About the organisation

Royal Mail Holdings is the parent company of the Royal Mail Group Limited, the provider of most of the UK’s postal delivery services. Every day, the company delivers 62 million items to around 29 million addresses.

The challenge

Royal Mail was facing a declining market, increased competition and a crippling pension deficit. It needed to prioritise HR initiatives around its core goals, in particular getting the basics right and building a commercial future.

What the organisation did

  • Aligned HR unit goals to main themes, cascaded these into personal objectives for all 645 HR employees.
  • Implemented the People System Programme (PSP) – an HR modernisation programme to streamline people processes and enable more proactive HR.
  • Project Maple developed to enlist a pension administration team needed to transfer historic liabilities to a new scheme backed by the Government.
  • Developed a direct hire model for external management recruitment rather than use agencies.
  • Improved policy compliance through new enterprise-wide HR system (SAP).
  • Managed Christmas 2012 recruitment internally rather than through external suppliers.

Benefits and achievements

  • PSP was delivered across Royal Mail by 2012 on time and to budget.
  • 19,000 professional and self-service users can access new SAP system, managing more than 150,000 staff on payroll.
  • Pension team delivered new business systems and processes to enable establishment of Royal Mail Statutory Pension Scheme.
  • More than 65% of all senior/professional roles in the business sourced internally, contributing to £1.2 million in savings.
  • Refresher workshops for operational managers have helped reduce absence rates by 1.3%.
  • Christmas recruitment savings of £250,000 in direct costs.
  • Engagement score of 78% in March 2013, compared with 73% in 2012.

Judge’s comments

“Good work with some good outcomes.” – Alan Warner

 


Company

About the organisation

Merlin Entertainments is one of the world’s largest leisure and entertainment companies, operating more than 90 attractions across 22 countries, including Sea Life Centres, Madame Tussauds and Legoland.

The challenge

Merlin’s ambitious growth strategy (it opens attractions at a pace of at least seven per year) means it is crucial the company has the right leadership and management in place to grow the business. It needed to make succession planning a key priority, identifying successors across 22 different countries in a fair and consistent way.

What the organisation did

  • Agreed a target of 75% of successors for the top 300 roles with the board.
  • Devised a succession planning toolkit including: process map; managers’ guide to identifying successors; managers’ guide to career development conversations; and templates for nine-box grid mapping.
  • Introduced workshops and webinar training.
  • Engaged with senior directors to ensure they were on board with the process: launched the initiative at the Merlin Management Conference.
  • Addressed areas that did not have natural successors by encouraging managers to look at/amend structure.
  • Provided successors who needed to acquire skills/experience with a development plan.
  • Built information into a straightforward but effective spreadsheet.

Benefits and achievements

  • Increased number of roles with successors from 35% to 77% over 12-month period.
  • Ratio of internal to external appointments down from 50/50 to 62/38 by end of 2012.
  • Single global view of where business is protected and where the gaps are to prioritise needs.
  • Dedicated talent forums to address priority areas – for example, finance and marketing.
  • More movement of talent between different business areas and more effective workforce planning.
  • Increased retention through visible career progression.

Judge’s comments

“Exciting business challenge. Heavily linked to business strategy. Good, appropriate and measured response.” – Robert Aldrich

 


ATS Euromaster

About the organisation

ATS Euromaster is a nationwide tyre company, with 349 centres across the UK. It operates a specialist fast-fit and tyre service to fleet and retail customers.

The challenge

Four years ago, ATS needed to reverse a long record of financial instability. The arrival of a new HR director, Irene Stark, was a catalyst for HR to challenge the status quo and renew the organisation’s strategic focus. Irene recognised that ATS needed to employ effective managers to drive high performance.

What the organisation did

  • A 42-strong team from HR, payroll, internal communications, learning and development and health and safety worked together to provide line managers with tools to become self-reliant.
  • Implemented multi-site managers where one manager shared across two sites – reducing cost base.
  • Worked with operational directors to identify people-related issues and improve centre performance.
  • Managers from low-contribution centres shadowed colleagues from centres that had secured profitability.
  • Team now has direct involvement in attraction and recruitment processes.
  • Designed new performance management process, “Managing the ATS Way”.
  • Rolled out bespoke management/people development programme.

Benefits and achievements

  • Employees and managers have better understanding of bigger picture issues.
  • Employee engagement as high as 85% in some areas, according to Harris Interactive Survey.
  • On track to record profit at end of 2013, £24 million improvement in financial performance despite the recession.

Judge’s comments

“Notable progress given the very challenging financial position facing the company, with impressive action to take advantage of existing talent.” – David Amos


Hastings Direct

About the organisation

Hastings Direct is a division of Hastings Insurance Services Limited, and provides insurance for cars, homes and motorcycles as well as related products such as car breakdown cover. In February 2009, the company’s management bought it out from parent company Insurance Australia Group (IAG).

The challenge

In late 2011, Hastings published an ambitious goal of “Protecting 1 in 10 by 2020″ aiming to increase customer numbers to three million and increase its market share. It broke its plan of attack down into four strands, or four Cs: colleagues, customers, company and community.

What the organisation did

  • Identified priority initiatives to support the four Cs, such as improving recruitment and retention, improving customer focus and giving back to the local community.
  • Every employee took part in major customer-focused organisation development programme including motivational speakers.
  • Revised inductions and made changes to reward and recognition schemes to be more customer-centric.
  • Introduced: talent planning forums to map out how internal talent would be grown for future management vacancies; middle management development programme; and Way Forward graduate scheme.
  • Brought recruitment back in-house.
  • Implemented new HR system and people dashboard to improve productivity.
  • Set up business partnering team of five – each has direct contact to the business.
  • Set up communications forum and other engagement initiatives such as “Hastings Got Talent”.

Benefits and achievements

  • HR achieved highest engagement score of 816/1,000 (up by 60 points).
  • Reduced attrition from 33% (2011) to 25% (2012).
  • Reduced leavers over 12 months from 64% to 48%.
  • Proportion of team leader vacancies filled internally up from 10% to 50%.
  • Customer satisfaction Net Promoter score up to 78% (from 73% previously).
  • 85% of employees engaged in community or charity activities.
  • Achieved 20% customer growth in 2012 – on target to hit “1 in 10″ goal.

Judge’s comments

“Strong wider business and employee engagement. [Hastings] demonstrated strong teamwork with metrics to support.” – Robert Aldrich

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