Q & A with Stephanie Durrant – Head of Group HR, Pall-Ex Group
Pall-Ex Group is on a journey towards achieving excellence.
The logistics giant has set out a series of strategic ambitions, which it believes will help it achieve this and one such ambition is to become the Employer of Choice.
To better understand this ambition, what it means and how the business will deliver it, Stephanie Durrant, Head of Group HR at Pall-Ex Group has answered a number of questions about becoming the Employer of Choice.
What are does becoming the Employer of Choice mean to you?
“For me becoming the Employer of Choice is essential to Pall-Ex Group’s ability to achieve its company plan by and will do so by attracting and retaining the most talented people by offering a desirable company culture, leadership style, and employee engagement.
“The vision for me is for all employees to love coming to work, enjoying performing at their very best and really wanting to contribute to the success of the business.
“It is also about having a strong brand and positive reputation within the wider community as well as delivering an amazing Employee Value Proposition (EVP). This will ensure that that people in the local community and further have positive associations with the Pall-Ex name and as a result are promoting us positively so that we are an attractive employer for local talent, bringing in the skilled employees needed to continue our success in the future.”
What challenges does the business face currently in this respect?
“Since joining Pall-Ex three months ago, I have spent time listening and observing our people and our culture as a whole. Having done this, it is very clear to me that we have so many talented individuals, who are extremely loyal and dedicated to the business and what we aim to achieve – This means we are doing a lot of things well.
“However, we are in very unusual times as a result of Covid-19, Brexit and being in a very competitive industry, so this poses many challenges for Pall-Ex Group. Positioning ourselves as the Employer of Choice is critical.
“One key challenge identified is most companies are also focusing on their EVP, offering enhanced packages for staff. Therefore, Pall-Ex Group need to offer over and above the standard package, whilst continuing to be innovative and deliver on our promises.
“Our CEO, Kevin Buchanan, and the strong leadership team he has created are all committed and focused on maintaining a positive company culture and leadership. This in turn will support our quest to become the Employer of Choice.”
What are your targets for this year? What do you hope to achieve?
“It is critical for all of our activities to be measurable. Over the past few months, we have produced data dashboards for all areas of the business which will support in the monitoring of how successful our efforts are.
“All initiatives are directly linked to the Company Plan that was launched to all staff members across the Group, and a focus on specific KPIs, namely our Employee Engagement Survey results, Time to Fill Vacancies, Retention, Cost of Recruitment and Absence levels.
“Our minimum aim is to see significant improvement in all of these areas, and this will then illustrate that we are moving in the right direction.”
What are you currently implementing to help achieve these goals?
“The greatest impact is the significant pay investments in our FLT and HGV employees. This has helped to attract and retain these critically skilled to the business. As part of this, it has been great to see so many people that used to work at Pall-Ex Group return, as it demonstrates that our culture is one that they are happy to work in, should the wages be competitive.
“This year is very exciting for us, with lots of critical initiatives being launched to strengthen our brand and our employee experience.”
Here are some of the initiatives that the HR Team are focused on:
Strategy Session –
“All senior leaders will be holding strategic discussions on the cultural piece, focusing on engagement action planning at a group level.”
Employee Engagement Survey Action Planning –
“We conducted our first Employee Engagement Survey, shortly after the Strategy Session and we will be holding employee action planning sessions to really focus on how we can improve the employees work experiences.”
Achieving Excellence Champions Team –
“We have formed an amazing team of dedicated individuals who are our ‘Achieving Excellence Champions’.
“We meet regularly to discuss hot topics and they really add so much value by providing feedback and speaking to fellow employees for their opinions. We have had three positive sessions so far, covering communication, employee engagement survey and recognition awards (performance and length of service).”
Recruitment Excellence Project
“We know that to achieve excellence, we have to attract the best possible people to our business. Therefore, a team has been formed to discuss how we can improve our talent attraction and how we can best fill our vacancies promptly with the very best candidates.
“This team has devised a recruitment strategy which puts our company values at the heart of our offering. Part of this involves evaluating our practices so that they are efficient, and candidates have a positive experience from day one in the business.
“The project has also seen the production and launch of our first EVP – which we will continue to build upon over time and we have also introduced a job canvas, which promotes how a role adds value to the business.
“In addition, our Group HR Manager, Tabitha Connolly is now our dedicated Talent Acquisition Resource, providing much needed support to our leaders on recruitment and selection activities, whilst Preeti Mistry, HR Advisor, is supporting Tabitha by producing a suite of recruitment tools, which will include more attractive adverts for example.
“Overall, we are working really hard to create a positive candidate experience, through feedback and improving our processes and procedures within Pall-Ex Group.”
FLT and HGV Trainee Academy
“We are investing in the local communities by providing trainee schemes that upskill people in FLT and HGV roles and provide them with higher earning potentials. This is a win win situation, as the company will have skilled people at the right time in the right locations, whilst benefitting the communities we operate in across the UK.”
Communication Excellence Project
“To deliver excellent communication throughout the business, a cross functional team meet to discuss how we can improve communication on a regular basis. Actions from these meetings have resulted in the development of a new Group-wide employee newsletter.
“Furthermore, HR Advisor, Simaran Uppal, is taking the lead role in producing a new induction programme, which will ensure new starters are onboarded smoothly, effectively and feel part of Pall-Ex Group from their first day in the business.
“Finally, we are beginning to implement staff forums across all Pall-Ex Group sites, which will further improve the understanding we have for how employees feel about working with us. This can only improve our culture and help us to become the Employer of Choice.”
How are staff responding to these actions?
“So far our employees have provided positive feedback. I hear from many sources that they can see progress is being made, despite it being in the early days of our initiative. I believe in delivering on our promises to gain trust, so this will take time, but so far so good.
“Our journey to achieving excellence and becoming the Employer of Choice will need to see everyone working together and doing their part, whether this is filling in an engagement survey or a leader taking a different approach to a situation, every small improvement will add value to our vision.”
“The feedback we have had so far is great and I absolutely love hearing it! I see it as a gift because it can only make things better!”
What benefits to the business will this bring?
“Being an Employer of Choice is critical to Pall-Ex Group’s success. There are clear links to employee engagement, employee welfare, improved customer service, and ultimately improved business results so our work will only benefit the business in the months and years to come!”
What are the key areas that will secure Employer of Choice status, in your opinion?
“For me, inspirational leadership, an empowering and inclusive culture, effective communication, and strengthened recruitment channels are all key to reaching that status.
“We also have to have a focus on employer brand, positive employee and candidate experience as well as living and operating by our values, delivering career growth opportunities, competitive pay and benefits.
“As well as this, we are really focussing on improving employee welfare, as this plays a vital role in achieving the status as the Employer of Choice. We have implemented an employee assistance programme to support any staff who need advice on a range of topics, plus a new remote working policy, which allows employees to enjoy a greater work-life balance.
By making continuous improvements through listening and taking action, no doubt Pall-Ex will be the Employer of Choice.”