Can HR really impact your bottom line? Interview with Claire Davies

Do you view HR as something that you only call on when things go wrong with your employees? Are they only there to fire fight and be the voice of management, or can HR have a genuine impact on a business’ bottom line?

We caught up with Claire Davies to put this common misconception to rights and how her passion for HR has led her to build one of Chester’s growing HR consultancies. 

How did you get into HR? 

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I was at college, so I ended up doing a degree in Business Studies to keep my options open.  My Mum worked in HR and this gave me a bit of inspiration. Then I was offered a HR graduate scheme which I loved and haven’t looked back since. 

What is it about your job that gets you out of bed in the morning (apart from paying the bills!)

I love working for companies who genuinely care about their people and who see the value in doing so – and they’re exactly the type of clients who I want to work with and who motivate me to get out of bed in the mornings. 

HR carries a bit of stigma, particularly in large organisations, why do you think that is? 

More businesses are now seeing the value of what HR can deliver, they’re not just there to protect the company (and management), but the people too. 

There’s so much more to it than just managing the grievances and actioning disciplinaries. Today, more businesses are proactively putting processes and procedures in place that care for employees for the greater good of the organisation. 

Why do you think some organisations overlook valuing their people so much? 

Some companies fail to take a holistic view of the employee.  They forget that they have a life outside work which is inevitably going to have a huge impact on how they show up in their job.  When things are going well, they’ll perform well, but during tough times they may need extra support and flexibility.  

You wouldn’t expect to have a bad day at work and come home with a spring in your step – and it works visa versa. 

Some companies don’t show enough respect and support if they are making people redundant.  Things like Career Support Programs etc. and time out to attend job interviews can really help emotionally support employees and help them find alternative work.  

How do you know whether a company has got their HR right and are truly looking after their people? 

Their employees will be engaged, they’ll be producing good work and they’ll be loyal and committed.  A company’s staff turnover is a big indicator, as is the number of employees who are attracted to working with them (even when they are not advertising for a role). More importantly, the company will have happy customers.  

Owning your own business must be a challenge, so how do you switch off from your job outside work? 

The whole point of having my own business was to have more flexibility – which of course, I do, but it’s also hard to find the ‘off’ switch! 

Regular exercise, lots of walks in the fresh air when I can, and regular holidays throughout the year with my family (pre covid!) always help me switch off when I need to. 

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt since you started your own business? 

Not being afraid to just be myself. It’s easy to be a people-pleaser (especially working in HR), but this should never take away from who I really am.  

How do you see 1850 growing in the future? What do you want to be known for?

I’ve got plans to grow the team and expand throughout the UK. Covid has meant that we can take on clients from anywhere, not just those who are local to us. 

My passion is to get more companies to focus on their people, as this is what impacts their bottom line. I guess that’s what I want to be known for. 

What changes have you seen in HR in the last 10 years? What trends are emerging that SMEs need to be more aware of? 

Historically, HR was more about employee relations, rules and regulations. Now it’s moving towards treating people as human beings and taking a holistic approach of their wellbeing.  There’s been a big shift on mental health in the workplace. This was happening before covid, but the pandemic seemed to have accelerated that.   

I can see businesses moving towards a hybrid working model over the next few years where outputs become more relevant than time and place.

Business owners and leaders have also become more honest than they ever were, and this helps to build a strong culture where the values of the company are really lived out and not just plaques written on the reception wall. 

If you would like to talk to Claire about any of these issues that may relate to your business, contact her for a FREE consultation

How to make the new hybrid workplace a reality for your SME

As hybrid working becomes the norm for millions of companies, SMEs need to rethink how they shape work patterns, and adopt new ways of working to meet employee preferences. 

Office of National Statistics figures show a third of staff worked from home in 2020, up by four times compared with before the pandemic. And it seems that despite social distancing measures relaxing, working from home will remain the norm for quite some time. 

Large organisations such as Apple for instance, are trialing a new hybrid model, with employees working three days a week but will offer flexible support for remote work in company-wide pilot project.

We’ve put together some practical and strategic ideas to help your SME adopt a successful hybrid approach to working:

Create feedback loops

Regular communication with team members will create an energising and healthy work culture.  Keep 1-to-1 catch ups consistent so everyone feels accountable and valued. These will not only help motivate team members, but they will also help keep your organisation achieving its wider goals. 

Feedback loops are essential for employee retention too.  If managers are not talking with their team on a consistent basis, they’ll leave to pursue ‘greener pastures’ where they feel they’ll be heard and valued.

Consistency in reporting and accountability 

It is important for SMEs to adopt a level playing field for employees who continue to work from home, so they don’t miss out on promotion, career progression or accountability. Home workers should still be considered a committed and valued member of your team. When you have in-person meetings that require decision making, try using online polling to ensure that everyone is participating equally and fairly wherever they are working from. 

Separation from work and home life

Making sure there is a clear separation between work and home life is essential. Managers should encourage their teams to switch off at designated times and take regular breaks away from their desk (just as they would having a lunch break and shutting down for the day in the office). 

Not being able to have a clear separation between home and work life can lead to the pressure of work inhabiting your home and that can be challenging for a lot of people.

Encourage virtual watercooler conversations

We all miss those casual and impromptu conversations by the watercooler in the office, but these should be encouraged virtually.  Set up regular team chats where work-talk is banned and allow people to share personal stories and social stuff.  This can help break down communication barriers and provide a much-needed platform to relax and offload, particularly those employees who live alone. 

We are providing consultation for a lot of SMEs now to help them adapt to a hybrid workplace model and culture.  We’d love to be able to share our ideas and help you too.  Contact us for a FREE consultation >>