1. What do your people want from HR?
HR spans a vast range of areas; from recruitment, performance management, development, training, and well-being, to overall company policies. Of course, there are different needs for different groups of people; new starters have different needs to more established members of staff, and managers have different needs from an HR perspective too. Generally, people want competitive benefits, but at the top of the wish list is always flexibility, whether that’s flexible working, part–time hours, or working remotely. Also high on the list is access to great training and a vibrant and collaborative working environment. It is up to us to ensure the business is catering for those needs. They want the HR team to be approachable, knowledgeable and to treat everyone fairly, and many ask for support with clear career paths.
We are in the process of fully launching a tool called “Strengths Finder” which is all about being aware of and building on people’s natural strengths; it’s a positive way of managing and dealing with everyday performance - that is something that really resonates with people; knowing and seeing that they can use their strengths every day at work and knowing they can be rewarded for it.
2. Stating “people” as a key focus for your business means what to HR initiatives?
It’s one of the key reasons I joined two years ago actually! It means the business starts and stops with great people. People are always on the agenda in every board meeting and everyone is really clear that in order to succeed we need thriving staff. From an HR perspective that’s the reason why we are here and it’s really exciting.
HR have the mandate to continuously review the staff offering; the ways of working and how we equip managers to deal with anything that comes up in the everyday life of managing a team. It also means with people as the core focus there’s a relentless drive in getting the right talent on board. We launched the employee temperature check at the beginning of the year; this gives our employees a voice and tracks how we are trending on important engagement factors on a regular basis.
3. How do you recruit the “best people”?
We operate in a very competitive market that puts the pressure on us to attract the best people. It really starts long before the interview process; it’s about creating a known and attractive employer brand and creating lots noise in the market. I think the re-branding of OPEN Health at the beginning of the year (where we now have a much more common platform visually and message-wise), definitely helps the talent team to tap into and amplify the noise out there. Ensuring our offering is competitive, coupled with a great working environment, helps to spread the word that this is a fantastic place to work.
We provide interview training for the business, and the talent team together with the practices have a rigorous process in place to ensure we identify the best candidates with the best fit for OPEN Health. It uses a mix of phone interviews, face to face interviews, and practical assignments and assessments to be able to make informed decisions.
We also need to ensure we have exciting roles, encourage autonomy and provide clear career paths. In the employee temperature check one of the questions is “would you recommend OPEN Health to a friend?” because it is a key mission for us to ensure staff have a positive experience with us so they continue to talk about us in a positive way; that’s the best marketing to potential candidates we can ever achieve.
4. How is training best delivered and received at OPEN Health?
We know from research we all prefer to learn in different ways; some like to read, some prefer more visual forms, and some are much more practical-orientated, so it’s important to offer many channels to access learning. We try to ensure a blended approach which means you combine all those different delivery methods. For example with presentation skills you may start with reading an article, then you layer that with a visual TED talk, then finish with a practical session.
Our learning and development platform, Bloom, is based on self-guided learning. Bloom allows people to access learning wherever they are rather than only face-to-face training sessions (which people often find harder to schedule in). We also focus on peer-to-peer learning, as we have so many smart people in the organisation it would be silly not to utilise that, and conversely it’s a benefit for people to develop themselves in their own role and feel they are an expert in their field. This is a key focus area for us because it has an impact in so many ways.
5. How do you define culture?
Looking at a textbook definition of ‘organisational culture’ it would say it is the sum of all the underlining beliefs, assumptions, and values in a company. Simply put: it’s all the things we do, how we say things and how we act on a daily basis. It is not a policy on paper, it’s what happens in reality, like the glue that shows us how we stick together and what’s acceptable or not.
At OPEN Health we have a strong mantra: employ, develop and retain great people; do fantastic work that excites our clients; have fun; make money; and always in that order. It provides a strong platform to build on and it influences all our practices in many ways; for example how we deal with clients, colleagues, and how we collaborate across the different practices.
Culture is the organisation’s personality; linking back to attracting and retaining people, it’s not something you can make up - it’s what people hear about us through the grapevine and what employees see and feel when they are here.