Graham Salisbury from ActionAid UK talking to us about this – what went well and what was a challenge.
Context of the org in the past – 200 staff with 60% turnover(!), inadequate HR governance, poor payroll controls, scrutiny from Border Agency over work permits, lack of leadership in HR (team of 5) and no time to do anything except transactional basics. They were hidden away at the back of the office and the team didn’t welcome visits unless appointments had been made! One of their big challenges has been lack of clarity over the focus of the charity and the direction they want to take.
Not been an easy journey, lots of mistakes were made, they stumbled – but they got up and carried on anyway. It’s important to Graham that others can also learn from their learnings and to bring the reality that we’re all human, we all make mistakes and it’s better to share that than try and gloss over it. Hooray to that!!
The organisation acknowledged a need for change. Julie started by bringing in an interim change manager to create a clean sweep. This person brought in systems and processes but what Graham found was that the impact of the way this change was done meant that he had to re-build a lot of relationships within and with HR, and repair some of the damage to heal the emotional bruises.
One of the changes they made was an updated pay scaling approach – and which they tried to do quickly and simply. The change wasn’t right, employees were incredibly unhappy with it but rather than defend what they’d done, Graham and the team said sorry that they’d got it wrong and instead worked with the union and some of the wider team to create something better.
Pay and reward is now one of the best results on their staff survey!
What would stop you from involving more people from your organisation in creating your HR practices and processes where you work?
One of Graham’s first jobs was to stabilise the HR team, making some fixed term team members permanent. He also worked to share stories with managers to demonstrate the capability of the HR team. He’s keen to show that HR in third sector are passionate, engaged people who achieve great things and we should be shouting about this stuff more outside the organisation. And often we just need to look at what we have, not always going outside to find something new and shiny.
ActionAid launched an apprenticeship programme to change the dynamic from an org that was heavy with white females with MAs. They’ve now recruited 3 apprentices from the local community who are gaining great experience – the HR apprentice had the chance to meet Boris Johnson the week.
Graham’s encouraging the ActionAid team to use Ulrich’s latest book to develop their ability to be strategic, their ability to change, etc. Even if you just get 10% better than that’s great – doesn’t have to be perfect. And look to your own networks to find new ways to connect and collaborate. It’s easy to forget what’s right in front of us.
So how do you give your HR team a boost – just for them, with the rest of the org, outside where you work?
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