Ann Greenwood is Financial Director of Campbell Scientific Ltd based at Shepshed in Leicestershire. Campbell Scientific Ltd is the European headquarters of the Campbell Scientific, Inc. Group, whose parent company is based in Utah, USA.
What’s your background in HR?
I joined Campbell Scientific Ltd about a year after it was set up in 1985. With my training and qualification as a Chartered Accountant, I was appointed the Financial Director about a year after joining the company. As part of this role I also took on a lot of the responsibility for HR, despite not having much formal training apart from some more general management courses.
We have been an EEF member for many years receiving employment law support from our assigned adviser Natalie Spencer. We have therefore been able to turn to Natalie and EEF for pragmatic, consistent advice on case law and legislation. This has been very important to us since we aren’t large enough to have a full-time HR professional on staff, and I also felt that one person working in isolation could fall behind on current employment law issues. Using the EEF, we can benefit from all their advisers’ experience plus the full spectrum of what EEF offers in terms of pay surveys and templates downloads. Everyone I talk to says that the EEF is the best to work with as very few organisations in the market can offer the same service levels. It is all about having the advice you need available on tap.
How have you worked with EEF to support your goals?
Our company has continued to grow, with just under 60 employees now at our Midlands site as well as branches in France and Germany and two subsidiaries in Spain and France. In the past year I realised that my limitations in knowledge of HR and employment law as well as my workload meant I needed more support. That’s when I turned to EEF’s HR consultancy team and Margaret Smith began working with the company.
In fact, the first time Margaret came in she really showed her worth in that she was able to help me with an employment related issue arising in real time, So right from the start I thought, “I can really work with this person!”
Now, she comes in every week or so to work on our longer term projects such as reviewing the staff handbook and refreshing our appraisal system to be fit for purpose. She is also available to deal with any on-going or newly arising HR-related issues.
Having someone like Margaret working with us, prods us along to meet our goals by keeping us focused. She works directly with our managers on issues they’re having, which means that I don’t have to deal with everything myself but still retain oversight and control of the HR function.
How you see HR having a positive role in organisations?
HR provides the proper structures to allow us to show that we treat staff fairly and consistently. HR is important because if you try to take short cuts and don’t do it properly, then you could spend even more time on firefighting disciplinary and performance issues. It’s about adopting good practice for the relationship between the company and our staff.
What are your goals for HR at your company?
Our primary goal is to make sure we provide as good and fair a working environment for staff as we can to get the best out of them. We also want to improve their engagement with the business and the communications between us to ensure that everyone understands the strategy of the company and their part in achieving that, and to ensure they feel valued and important to the company.
We want to cultivate a stable, settled workforce to minimise unnecessary staff turnover and avoid losing good people for the wrong reasons. Often, this is about giving people recognition for their work. It’s not just about offering more money and/or incentives, but also saying ‘thank you’ for a task well done.
We recently conducted a staff survey, overseen by Margaret, which is intended as a starting point for where we are now, so that we can work on a plan to address any issues with a follow up survey in a couple of years to review progress. Our first results were quite positive, with 95% of our staff saying that the company is a good place to work and 90% saying they understood their role. Margaret presented the results to our management team and then the staff. I have to say that I wouldn’t have thought to frame the presentation to staff in the same the way she did, but I was really impressed with her approach. She put the onus on the staff to further engage with the process by taking part in focus groups being set up to discuss some of the key messages arising from the survey, and to work with management to put together a plan for the future.
I look forward to continuing collaboration with Margaret and the EEF.
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