In this weeks Leading the Way blog, Kim Parsons, Group Employee Experience Manager, shares her experience of working with Bristow & Sutor and explains why focusing on the local community is integral to the business achieving performance goals.
Over to Kim …
I joined Bristow & Sutor in July 2019 after spending 10 years as an HR Manager at Birmingham City Council. A key part of my role is to embed an engaging company culture within Bristow & Sutor that supports the health, wellbeing and personal development of all employees; whilst simultaneously driving high-performance standards and ongoing community engagement.
I also look after employer branding and aim to attract the best employees by showing how Bristow & Sutor is an employer of choice and a great place to work. Some people have a preconceived idea about enforcement firms but are surprised at the high levels of employee pride and long-lasting career success and employee development we routinely see. COVID-19 provided some unique challenges that has shifted our focus recently but we have successfully maintained a progressive stance towards engagement and social value which is set to expand further in 2021.
Proud to be a Brummie
I was born and raised in Birmingham, attending Turves Green Girls School and Cadbury Sixth Form College, so it’s no surprise that a key motivator for me is to add value to the community I grew up in whenever I can. This was one of the reasons I previously worked for Birmingham City Council, where I had the chance to support the senior leadership team on people management and service delivery in the local area. I have experience of working in both the public and private sectors, having also worked for KPMG and NatWest during my 25 years in HR – wow that makes me feel old!
My role at Bristow & Sutor allows me to drive forward the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) agenda, engaging employees in relevant social value initiatives which benefit the local community. We are continuing to develop a programme of initiatives and interventions that focus on the mental health and physical wellbeing of all employees, establishing an inclusive and supportive culture. Being based in Redditch, many of our employees live in Birmingham and the surrounding areas, so adding value to the local community directly impacts them.
We had to be extremely agile to meet the HR challenges presented by COVID-19 but through hard work and team spirit, we rose to the challenge and ensured that our employees were ready to provide a seamless experience for our clients and customers. We quickly got to grips with the new employment legislation around the furlough scheme and increased communication to ensure staff had the information they needed and felt supported, including implementing new channels for two-way communication. This was all happening as our amazing IT Team moved all staff to work from home in March. Wellbeing has always been at the forefront of our minds but even more so over the past few months as our employees got used to new ways of working and all of the challenges posed by COVID-19. I am extremely proud of how our employees have risen to the challenges they’ve faced this year.We provided mental health awareness e-learning over the summer for all staff to ensure Managers in particular knew the signs to look out for if their team members were struggling. We also recently held Line Manager briefings and training to equip our People Managers with the tools needed to appropriately support others as well as themselves. Throughout the last few months, we have worked hard to keep staff engaged and positive during what has been a difficult time for many. We used regular COVID-19 bulletins and updates as well as our regular Newsletter ‘The Buzz’ to keep everyone connected as we worked from home. We conducted surveys to establish how our people were feeling and identify where they might need some help. By offering regular lines of support and recruiting and training more mental health first aiders, our employees always have a way of managing their wellbeing, with our support.
Providing an HR response to this pandemic has not been easy but we have received positive feedback about how our people feel they’ve been treated during this period and that can only be good news for our employees, clients and customers.
What the future holds
Unquestionably, social value is a key theme for Bristow & Sutor as we approach 2021. We have recently added roles within the business related to customers, social value and engagement and I will be working very closely with members of the team in this area.
We want to lead the way with our people strategy and add even more value to the residents in the communities we work with. A fundamental reason for this is because employee wellbeing, engagement and community involvement directly links to our performance levels. This is not just a ‘nice to do’, rather an essential step in ensuring return on investment and meeting client needs. Making sure the right people are working with us, that they are happy, feel they are contributing something positive and have the correct motivation and enthusiasm to perform optimally, is what sets us apart.
Having worked for a decade at Birmingham City Council, I have a true appreciation for local authorities and understand the incredible outcomes achieved from the work they carry out. Bristow & Sutor have a genuine desire to support this important work as best we can and build on the volunteering and charity donations we already undertake as a business. Currently, we are working on an internal wellbeing calendar and survey for early next year which give even more insight into our overall strategy for 2021 and beyond. It's an exciting time for me and an exciting time to be part of Bristow & Sutor.