From training for managers through to implementing an appraisal system and the occasional altogether more tricky dilemma, Gap HR has made a real difference at Abingdon chemical firm KCC Basildon.
Administration Manager Carol Lailey explains: “We become involved with Gap HR in 2011 when we were sold to a Korean company and became KCC; the former owner had not wanted a formal HR and the new owners gave us the opportunity to be more up to date. I had always done as much as I could, but when I came up against some problems there was nothing I could do.
“With the takeover we wanted to make our managers, team leaders and other staff more aware of HR issues and employment law; we wanted them to have the confidence to implement company policy in relation to employment law and best practice. They were good policies, but sometimes staff had not understood employment law and were reluctant to implement them.
“Carolyne delivered monthly training sessions with line managers to give them the skills to nip certain issues in the bud. These were things like timekeeping, sickness and poor performance and the knowledge was than disseminated to other team members. That monthly training covered the first year and then we took a step back to allow them to utilise what they had learned.
“We then focused on implementing a more formal appraisal system as our Korean owners favoured a much more structured approach that put all staff on payment scales and set targets for them to achieve. This would mean when the MD was asked to give a pay rise the evidence would be there and historically this was not something we had done well.
“Carolyne gave excellent advice and tips on how to set targets and go about the appraisal process in a positive way and how to give feedback constructively and develop the staff.
“This identified the need to look at clear job definitions for everyone across the company, which in turn would help with training and we now have KPIs for all staff. This continuous personal development is much better for the staff and it also means we have a clear role when we advertise for new positions.
“Carolyne helped once again with tips and advice of what should be in a good job definition and there were a couple of appraisals that were going to be tricky and she stepped in and participated with those particular cases.
“She is also an emergency resource! There was an issue when I was on holiday and as it involved gross misconduct it could not wait and Carolyne stepped up and dealt with it professionally.
“Some companies can go months without problems and then you get two or three at the same time and with Gap HR you can just up the required support and advice. Often it is simply having a professional third party who can put a point of view across that is objective; Carolyne is not too close and is respected by all sides and her advice will be well received.
“It is great to have that knowledge and support as a back up and also her network is valuable too. We have had an ongoing situation where Carolyne’s occupational health contacts have been invaluable and also a mediator; I actually went on a mediation course to improve my skills as a result.
“It is always preferable to be able to pick up the phone or send an email to check what you want to do is right, it is that confirmation from an HR professional that allows you to move forward.
“When we started with Gap HR we were on the HR Navigator package which gave us the level we needed to implement the training, with that done we moved back to HR in a Box, which still ensures we have Carolyne as and when we need her, but not at quite the same level. This flexibility is valuable and allows us to adjust our HR support as required.
“Employment law is a minefield; if you get it wrong it can be very costly, so being able to rely upon an HR professional like Carolyne Wahlen at Gap HR is invaluable.”