Promoting wellbeing in the workplace

Workplace Wellbeing
Workplace Wellbeing

We recently held our third run of The Forum, discussing the importance of promoting mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. For those of you who don’t know, The Forum is an exclusive quarterly event for HR Directors to ask, share, explore and learn.

This quarter, we were talking about mental health and wellbeing in the workplace and it sparked some very interesting conversation, so I thought I would give my opinion on a few things!

First, a few stats:

  • 83% of people go to work when they are unwell
  • 59% of people who are off work on long-term sickness are off due to mental health problems

I think one thing is very clear – workplace wellbeing is a hot topic right now! Whilst I think organisations have come on leaps and bounds in terms of supporting wellbeing in general, I also think some organisations can turn it into a gimmick or photo opportunity – a bit like when everyone slaps the rainbow on the corporate logo for pride month…


Money or money-worries can be the root of a lot of stress and mental health issues. Some organisations have been running some great initiatives to combat this.

PKF Cooper Parry have allowed people to choose when during the month they get paid. The NHS has been offering same-day pay for its flexible employees. I think these approaches are innovative. It provides the flexibility that people need and empowers people to manage their finances and feel in control.

One thing I’m not a huge fan of is these new apps that allow you to access some of your next month’s salary early. I know they are marketed as being used for emergencies and a lot of them have limits on how much you can access, but I do feel that for some people (me included!) it would encourage you to frequently spend outside your means and always be living in a deficit, meaning you would be accessing money early every single month.



Flexible working, agile working, unlimited holidays…does it work? Do people really use it?

I am very lucky to work for an employer who offers flexible working. And when I say that I mean ACTUAL flexible working. What this means is that I can work from home, when I want, without needing a reason. On a Thursday I finish work at 4 pm to go and visit my nan who has Alzheimer’s and I don’t make the time back up. What I do, is deliver all the work I need to in the hours that I work.

Flexible working isn’t being allowed to finish at 4 pm on a Friday or starting an hour earlier/ skipping your lunch so you can leave early and it definitely isn’t being allowed to go for an appointment in the middle of the day as long as you make the time back.

The unlimited holidays I’m not 100% sold on, which is probably because It is now November and I still have 9.5 days holiday to take before Christmas. I’m not great at taking holiday. But I do see the purpose of it. Say you have a special occasion, honeymoon or the opportunity to go on an extended break, then it would be great to utilise.


There must also be engagement in workplace wellbeing and organisations need to empower and equip individuals to self-care.

There are other options to engagement surveys, for example, to get people to spend time thinking about themselves. People don’t just need to think about how they feel, but also what impacts those feelings, what are the root causes?

There are now apps that are a self-coaching platform and can be used with employees to enable them to assess their work happiness. These are an interesting alternative to employee engagement surveys and encourage people to think about the underlying motivations to their happiness – even as far as their work relationships, identifying which are high quality and which you could/would like to improve.

Anna Cleland’s app Workhappy is a great one to check out.

There is so much good happening in workplaces (and some crap here and there!) that I think we are making strides in workplace wellbeing, but there is still plenty more to be done.

It would be great to hear about the initiatives you love or hate, and what else you think needs to be done.

If you need some practical tips to help you, here are 6 tips for a better work-life balance.

Carl Hinett is our Director & Executive Search Specialist. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch

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The pros and cons of office dog(s)

Any of you who are friends of re:find will know we love an office dog! So much so that we have two who join us on a regular basis.

But having dogs in the office isn’t all cuddles and playing fetch. Here are my pros and cons of having office dogs.

Pro: stress reduction

It has long been known that having a dog can reduce stress. Virginia Commonwealth University 2012 study showed that people who brought their dogs to work showed reduced stress levels and higher levels of job satisfaction. Providing the dog is well behaved it is fun having it around. And if you are having a crappy day, they are always happy to give you a cuddle.

Con: allergies

I suffer from allergies; however, I am allergic to pretty much anything you can be allergic to. That includes dog, cats, horses, rabbits…basically anything with fur. The issue is I also love animals. Whilst my allergies aren’t severe, what it does mean is if I touch an animal, I have to wash my hands immediately. However, when Teddy decides to sneeze on my ankle…well let’s just say getting your ankle into a kitchen sink is not the easiest!

Pro: increased activity

When working in an office, it can be very easy to sit at your computer all day and before you know it, it’s 5.30! Having a dog naturally encourages you to be more active. It’s a great excuse to get out and take the pooch for a walk at lunchtime. Getting some fresh air and stretching your legs can also be great for your positivity levels.

Con: your food is no longer your own

Anyone who knows me knows this crucial piece of information about me. I. DON’T. SHARE. FOOD.

Sadly, dogs don’t understand what this means. Teddy stands at my feet when I am eating. I avoid making eye contact and I pretend that he isn’t there. Then he barks at me and taps my hand with his paw. Then I have to wash my hand because of the allergies. I sit back down to carry on eating, he touches me, I have to wash my hands. Well, you can see where this is going! It’s easier just to give him the piece of chicken from the outset.

All of this being said, I love having the dogs in the office. They bring a bit of fun and entertainment I genuinely do feel happy that they are around!

Here are the dogs you will find lurking around our office:

The Silent Assassin (AKA Teddy)

This is the sneakiest kind of dog….he pretends to be uninterested; he sleeps for most of the day and snores really loudly….but you rustle a food packet or ping the microwave and he springs into life like a jack in the box! That being said, he is very well behaved and is always very appreciative of a lunchtime stroll. He also loves strangers.

Pros: Loves a good fuss – if you are having a bad day, he is happy to give you a cuddle.

Cons: Watch out for your chicken, this guy will stop at nothing to get a nibble on your lunch!

The Energizer Bunny (AKA Gracie)

She’s a fun dog! She is happy to see everyone, bounces around the office quite happily. Give her a stress ball and she will be content for hours, although she will rip it to shreds. She can be a little noisy at times, but she provides endless entertainment.

Pros: Loves to play games and is always up for a walk.

Cons: Will bark the minute you pick up the phone to someone important.

So, what are your thoughts about having dogs in the office? Do you have any? What do you love/hate about having them around?

For all things HR Shared Services or if you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog, email me on

You can view more about Kate Wass our HR Shared Services specialist here.

Why won’t top-performing shared service professionals join your business? And what to do about it. Download our free eBook here.  

Phrases heard in recruitment offices that make my skin crawl

In recruitment, we like to think we are ever-evolving animals and that we have moved on from the pinstriped three-piece suits and working 13 hours a day. In the main part, I think this is true, but there are still some of you out there. You know who you are…. you are probably the one reading this and getting ready to blast some hate my way because I’ve touched a nerve. Either that, or you really are so hanging from last nights weekly team drinks that you just don’t have the energy, but at least you beat the office record for jaeger bombs downed, followed by press-ups completed. #ladsladslads

Anyway, here’s a trip down memory lane, the worst things I have heard in recruitment offices.

‘Ring the deal bell’

Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realise we were on the London Stock Exchange in the nineties! Are you really that self-congratulating that you need to ring a bell to let the rest of the office know you have actually done your job?

Referring to candidate placements as ‘deals’ also makes me want to scratch my eyeballs out.

’Right guys, we are having 10 before 10/Power Hour’

What this actually says is that your manager is concerned that you lazy shits aren’t doing enough BD, so they are going to force you to make a load of calls in an hour in order to hit your pointless call KPI target. If you can speak to 10 decision-makers in an hour, then I’m betting you the quality of those calls probably sounds something like this:

Recruiter: ‘Hi, you got any jobs?’

Client: ‘No’

Recruiter: ‘Ok, thanks’ *whilst secretly punching the air because the call counts as a decision-maker spoken to*.

‘We are different from your average recruitment agency’

Oh really? That’s strange because I’m pretty sure the last 10 recruiters that called me were all different…so if that’s the case, where do I find all the average recruiters because I think I wanna give one of them a try?

Recruiters that truly are different, aren’t constantly telling you how different they are, they are busy just being different. Let your actions speak for themselves.

‘I’ve got a hot candidate’

Why? Have you locked them in an un-air-conditioned room until they sign your exclusivity agreement? Your candidate isn’t an object for you to brag about! Talk about them like they are an actual human being and not a walking fee.

So, there you go, rant over. This is purely a bit of fun and not meant to offend anyone. But this doesn’t just apply to recruitment. What are the worst/most annoying phrases you hear in your office?

For all things HR Shared Services, change and transformation and if you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog, email me on

You can view more about Kate Wass our HR Shared Services specialist here.

Why won’t top-performing shared service professionals join your business? And what to do about it. Download our free eBook here.  

Simon Brown’s top tips for successful shared services governance

Top tips for successful shared services governance

Simon is a frequent columnist at SSON and a veteran of shared services deployments at GSK, Coca-Cola, NCR, Carlson Wagonlit Travel and Becton Dickinson over the past 20 years, both as a Shared Services Director and a Transformation and Change Advisor and Consultant. 

For this blog, Simon has kindly shared his views on understanding service proposition documents and SLA’s, the do’s and don’ts for introducing SLAs or OLAs, what a good SLA includes and how you should brand it.

When you have made the decision to move to, or upgrade, a shared services model for your enabling functions, be it finance, HR, IT, procurement or indeed an integrated business services, it makes good sense to set out your store and crystallise what it offers and how it works, when the processes and services will be delivered and who does what within the functional teams. Most important is that a dialogue takes place between representatives of all the key stakeholders – those who have a vested interest in the effective operations of the shared services model to be deployed.

What you agree can be recorded in a ‘Service Proposition Document’ – which should primarily be seen as a business partnership agreement about who does what, when, and with whom, and how the transactions are measured, costed and charged. The document is an output of an agreement, and a point for future reference in governance of that agreement – it is not in itself the driving force to make things happen.

Typically, a service proposition document proposes, at the executive level, the following items:

  • Purpose and mission of the shared services function
  • Who are the customers of shared services?
  • What is the business case for introducing shared services?
  • Which processes are covered, and which services and products are delivered by shared services?
  • Overall business model measures of success.
  • Costing and charge-outs for the shared services operations – often referred to as the commercial model.
  • Who are the parties to the agreement, what is the review mechanism and duration of the agreement?

The target audience for the service proposition agreement are the decision-makers at the senior level within the function – for example, in the HR function it would be the HR leadership team, and for an integrated enabling functions organisation the business services leadership team. Ideally, however, a review board – often referred to as The Customer Board, which has representatives from business heads who receive service from the enabling functions, is a good forum for getting the relationship right from the beginning.

Many companies make the mistake of being too insular when getting ready to launch their shared services function, seeing only their own function heads as the customers of the services. In reality, of course, all managers and employees of the business will be consumers of the products and services of shared services. So whilst it is right to ensure your own function is fully aligned and has bought into the new shared services model, it is equally important to go directly to the business heads when shaping the service – particularly, when agreeing on the business purpose and measures of success for the Service Proposition, and the charge-out method for the commercial model . These tend to be the big-ticket items where strategic alignment is key to success.

A service proposition document or agreement does not have to be long and bureaucratic. It is not War & Peace! It’s an executive summary agreement, which needs to be readily accessible and quick to read. The best SPDs are at most 6 or 7 pages in length.

So, what about the detail at the operations level below this executive agreement? How best to ensure that the right things are happening, in the right way, on the ground, as well as 30,000 feet up in the sky? How best to manage customers’ expectations regarding what’s in and what’s out of scope? And, how best to create a common understanding of processes, products, services, and responsibilities?

This is where the service level agreement has a role to play. It is a document with a lot more detail than the service proposition itself. Your SLA gives your service proposition legs!

Branding your agreement in the right context at your company.

Service Level Agreement, which describes the working relationship with third-party vendors, is sometimes referred to (for purely internal operations or captive HR shared services) as an Operating Level Agreement. Whatever your business context or whatever language used to describe your OLA or SLA, there are some fundamental principles to build into your thinking when designing and agreeing on this document.

It is vitally important to see the SLA/OLA as a communications tool, an output of an agreed way of working between the stakeholder parties at an operations level; something that by its clarity helps to prevent conflict and that provides a way to measure service effectiveness. The document that encapsulates all of the above in word and spirit should be seen as a living framework for an evolving and organic relationship of transactions between the stakeholders and providers. Don’t see it as something to file away or to be used to hit people over the head with when things go wrong! See it as something that will be amended and adjusted by agreement, on a predetermined frequency. As Shared Services evolves and grows and continuous, improvements are made to process effectiveness, leveraging technology and new ways of working so these can be updated and reflected in the document.

What should a good SLA or OLA include?

  1. The processes to be included and the products and services of those processes.
  2. A list of the processes which are out of scope at this point – to manage customer expectations.
  3. Conditions of service availability – hours of opening and days of operation.
  4. Service standards – times for delivery of services should be recorded in a number of working days (rather than say 24 or 48 hours) to manage expectations and be clear about closures of operations for bank-holidays or weekends.
  5. A R-A-C-I matrix – to show who is responsible, accountable, needs to be consulted and informed, regarding process steps. This ensures role clarity in completion of tasks.
  6. Cost versus service trade-offs, to manage expectations about “workarounds” or “just as a favour” requests.
  7. Clear escalation procedures and timelines so that when something goes wrong it can be resolved by the right person, in the right role, at the right time.

Governance and Reporting

For governance of the SLA/OLA it is also important to be transparent about how service effectiveness will be tracked – KPIs and metrics of outputs based on time, quality and cost-effectiveness criteria are included here. In addition, it is vital to report on service effectiveness to key stakeholders using agreed formats and frequency. See my article on measuring effective shared services performance on the SSON website for more examples. One-page dashboards; billboards with lots of colour and headline-only statements; and traffic lights (showing mostly green of course!) are effective ways to visually represent service and operating levels.

Measuring service satisfaction through quick customer surveys and focus groups which engage with the customer on an emotional level is just as effective as hard output metrics, which keep the score on time, quality, and cost-effectiveness of delivery.

Here are some do’s and don’ts for the introduction of SLAs/OLAs:


  • Discuss first with your customers, colleagues and stakeholders before you document your thoughts.
  • Gather information and insights about what can practically be delivered by the Shared Services Centre before making proposals on service and service levels.
  • Understand the complexity of processes by mapping them “as is” and where possible to streamline “to be”. Size up the volume of work and resources required to manage the processes to be included in the service proposition.
  • Consider a phased approach to introducing processes into your shared services operations – some now, some later … rather than the “big bang”, all-at-once, approach. Be clear about what is not in scope in phase 1, and record this in the service proposition and service level document.
  • Establish ground rules and ways of working with your customers and stakeholders so that the mindset is that of “partnership,” and “win-win together”, not “us versus them”.
  • Do build insufficient time to complete your SLA and SPD. Time to understand the processes, agree who does what, establish tracking mechanisms, agree supporting materials (e.g. process maps), debate to gain consensus, gain approvals, sign-off, run pre-launch education and briefing sessions, can take around three months under good circumstances.


  • Introduce SLAs simply as a way to plug the gaps after a complaint from a customer – it’s not a document to hide behind. Meet to sort out underlying problems first, rather than paper over the cracks with a written document.
  • Write an SLA without any input from your customers. Ideally, involve them in reviewing first and second drafts, which themselves are written following discussions, customer interviews, or process review workshops.

Finally, remembering the famous Oscar Wilde quote, “You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression”, do see your SPD and SLA/OLA as an output of something you do with the customer, not something you do to the customer. Get as much face time as you can with customer representatives in the design of your shared services. These documents will then follow as the icing on the cake!

Thanks to Simon Brown for sharing his thoughts and tips with us on successful shared service governance.

For all things, HR Shared Services, change and transformation and if you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog, email me on

You can view more about Kate Wass our HR Shared Services specialist here.

Why won’t top-performing shared service professionals join your business? And what to do about it. Download our free eBook here.  

Innovation culture…doable or black magic?

Innovation culture…doable or black magic?

We keep hearing it all the time…in order for shared services to be successful, they need to be continuously improving and innovating. But what is a culture of innovation? And how do you create one? Is it even possible?

A culture of innovation is when innovative ‘thinking’ becomes a cultural trait, second nature.

It is actively encouraged, and people live and breathe it from the bottom up.

It’s not just black magic, but in order to do this successfully, there are some key things to consider:

1 – Innovation should be encouraged across the entire workforce.

From the board to the cleaning staff, innovation should be encouraged from every employee of your business, with no exceptions.  We often think that ideas and innovations are created in brainstorming sessions. Make innovation a core responsibility of everybody’s roles and ensure it is reviewed frequently, don’t push it aside as an end of year objective.

2 – Empower your employees.

If you are going to set innovation as an expectation of your people, you need to properly equip them with the knowledge and tools to be able to do so. You also need to facilitate how people can share their thoughts and ideas in a positive and constructive way, to ensure they feel their voice is being heard and to make sure they know that no idea is a bad idea. There are a number of ways you can do this – either in 121s or group innovation sessions. Some businesses have suggestion boxes or an innovation section of their internal intranet.

3 – Take action.

There is always a risk that asking for innovation can lead to endless conversations with no real take away. The biggest impact that you can have on your culture is to take action. Now I’m not saying it is practical that every idea should be taken to prototyping/testing but, it is practical to show that all ideas are taken seriously and investigated, and giving a decision/outcome is critical to continually encourage people that their ideas are valued.

4 – It is ok to fail, as long as you learn!

Not every idea will be a success. Failure is inevitable. If things don’t fail, then the chances are you aren’t taking enough action on your innovation. Not every idea will be a success – and that’s ok!

The key here is to review the failure, figure out what went wrong, what could have been done differently and learn from it!

There are some organisations who do innovation really well. Amazon is a great example of this – where innovation has almost become a science to them. Everyone at Amazon is encouraged to submit improvement ideas through a simple template and are given sponsorship to try new ideas.

I would be really interested to hear how your company encourages innovation, as well as your opinion on any companies that do this really well.

For all things HR Shared Services, change and transformation and if you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog, email me on

You can view more about Kate Wass our HR Shared Services specialist here.

Why won’t top performing shared service professionals join your business? And what to do about it. Download our free eBook here.  

Does internal customer service affect your external customer experience?

Does internal customer service affect your
external customer experience ?

The experience that your employees have, directly impacts the service and experience your customers receive.

 A pretty strong statement, but one that I absolutely agree with.

This week, Lynsey Kitching and I explored how the experience your employees get from their internal functions can directly relate to the experience your external customers get from your business.

The first thing to note that although I talk about shared services in this blog, the statement relates to ANY internal function within your business and the fact of the matter is that almost any role within an organisation can be linked back to the customer in some way.

Well the scorecard is green so we must be doing fine!

Lynsey, Owner of Lynsey J Kitching consultancy, spent many years working with National Grid. During this time, she headed up a project to improve service quality within their shared service function.

People often use scorecards as a measure of success within shared services. But just because your scorecards are green, doesn’t mean your customers are happy with the service they are receiving. How are you getting feedback?

Lynsey used NPS (net promoter scores) to get internal and external customer feedback and began looking at their low scores/detractors and found there was a direct correlation between feedback and performance on both internal and external NPS.

”The initial NPS scores and supporting feedback from customers was the shared services team were not accessible, our customers didn’t know what we did, email dot boxes didn’t work, and our processes weren’t transparent. That led us to develop our service proposition…to be responsive, reliable and easy to deal with. And act straight away – implement a service management tool to remove dot boxes, set up a pop-up help desk at our largest colleague office and work on improving our first identified colleague journey – how to buy goods or services. In the first 12 months the NPS score improved by 22 points.”

Story time

One of the biggest detractors on Lynsey’s NPS for external customers was a lack of consistency/continuity with people when solving an issue.

An example of how shared services could affect this score.

Your payroll administrator processes the wrong payroll data for your account manager. Your account manager gets paid incorrectly. When he tries to speak with shared services, he gets passed from one person to another with nobody really taking accountability for the error. Account manager becomes disengaged and starts job hunting and leaves his role. Your customer calls up to speak to their account manager only to find they are no longer there. Said customer is on their fifth account manager in 2 years. They are sick of having to re-introduce themselves to someone new and spend time getting them up to speed. Your customer leaves and goes to another provider.

Now I appreciate this is a pretty drastic scenario. But it happens.

‘Every role in shared services can be connected back to the customer and, as a result of this, every role within shared services is hugely important’.

Your Payroll administrator thinks they are the lowest part of the value chain. How can what they do affect your customers, when they don’t even speak to them?

And there lies your problem. Your shared services team doesn’t understand their purpose and they don’t feel empowered to deliver service to the best of their ability.

The leadership role is to set the climate and enable their teams to look at the bigger picture and how their role has an impact.

You need to move from talking in process and transaction terms, to talking about colleague journeys and experience – from setting strategic objectives to individual performance management. Empower your colleagues to step away from process when needed to improve experience (obvs balancing any controls/regulations).

So, there you have it! How internal customer experience can affect external customer service.

If anyone has undertaken a similar project, both Lynsey and I would be really interested to see any hard data relating to customer service and employee experience!

If you would like to speak with Lynsey about her consultancy services, get in touch and we will connect you, or you can catch her on LinkedIn.

For all things HR Shared Services, change and transformation and if you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog, email me on

You can view more about Kate Wass our HR Shared Services specialist here.

Why won’t top performing shared service professionals join your business? And what to do about it. Download our free eBook here.  

The best stupid things people say at Christmas

The best stupid things people say at Christmas
The best stupid things people say at Christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. That’s right…it’s only bloody Christmas! And do you know why it’s my favourite time of year…because people say stupid things at Christmas.

So what better gift from me to you, than a list of the stupid things people say at Christmas time.


“I’m sure it gets earlier every year”

No…no it doesn’t. Christmas day is definitely December 25th, every year. Celebrating Christmas may get earlier every year. The house down the road from me put their lights up on 1st November – they must have nothing better to spend their money on than lights bright enough to cause seizures to anyone within a 5-mile radius! But I googled it…Christmas, definitely 25th December. Every. Year.


“New Year, New Me”

Sharon, you ain’t fooling anyone hun…you tried 7 different diets last year and still ended up half a stone heavier. You went to the gym twice and then faceplanted the biscuit tin on January 5th. It all went downhill from there. You decided to stop smoking…but you mysteriously re-enter the office three times a day smelling like a pack of B&H. Stop pretending that on January 1st you are going to wake up a different woman.


“It may be Christmas, but things certainly haven’t slowed down”

This one is for the recruiters out there. The recruiters who think that by posting about how busy they are over Christmas, clients will suddenly fall at their feet. You know the ones…pinstripe suit, bell nailed to the wall of the office, sat at their desks until 5.30pm on New Year’s Eve to score extra points with the directors. Newsflash – nobody gives a shit.


“Let’s not do gifts this year”

Warning – THIS IS A TRAP. If your partner says you shouldn’t exchange gifts, you should definitely get them a gift. I can guarantee they have got you one and, if you don’t reciprocate, you will instantly be the Grinch that stole Christmas. Your partner will also proceed to tell your parents, her parents, the entire family and all of your friends and anyone who will listen, that you didn’t get them a present.


“What did Santa bring you?”

Nothing. Because I’m 29. Santa isn’t real.


“Is it too early to have a drink?”

“Yes, it is”, said no one. Ever. As a child, the traditional Christmas breakfast consisted of chocolate fingers and Baileys, followed by a bath with bucks fizz (bucks fizz in a glass, not in the bath!).

Rule of thumb – if you aren’t half cut by the time Christmas lunch is served, you are doing it all wrong.

So, there we have it…. the list of my favourite stupid things that people only say at Christmas!

Feel free to share yours with me. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and feel free to use my list of stupid Christmas quotes as some kind of Christmas bingo, or a drinking game, whatever’s clever!

For all things interim management, change & transformation, get in touch with me on

The dummies guide to office eating habits

Office eating habits
Office eating habits

Don’t deny it…you know you secretly judge all of your colleagues by what they eat in a working day.

Here’s the dummies guide to office eating, sweeping generalisations included…


Serial dieting Sandra

There’s a Sandra in every office…Sandra has done all of the diets. Weight Watchers, Slimming World, Herbalife, The Cambridge Diet, Tea Detoxes that make you crap yourself. Another week, another fad. They never stick to the diet, they never lose any weight. They constantly complain about how difficult their diet is. Yes, Sandra, it is! Maybe it would be easier if you stepped away from the biscuit jar? That’s right, we see you stuffing those hobnobs in your face when you think nobody is looking!


Takeaway Tom

There’s a little bit of Tom in everyone. Tom is the guy who rocks up at 9.01am, unshaven and stinking of the 12 pints of Carling he had the night before, every day of the week. Tom eats bacon sandwiches for breakfast, McDonalds at lunch (other fast food joints are available) and mainly drinks Red Bull, Coca-Cola or more Carling. Tom has never drunk a glass of water…or eaten a vegetable.


Lunchbox Lorna

We all hate Lorna. Lorna is organised. She spends her evening making her meals for the next day. One Tupperware box of overnight oats? Check! One Tupperware filled with a colourful and exciting looking salad? Check! One Tupperware of carrot sticks and cucumber? Check! Lorna is everything we wish we could be…until that Tupperware disappears from the kitchen and Lorna loses her shit!


Clean eating Kevin

Where are you Kevin? You know who you are. You make the office stink. You microwave 12 egg whites at breakfast, you steam cod and green beans at lunchtime and you down protein shakes like Jaegerbombs. It’s all macros, keto and no carbs. But beware of Kevin when the cakes come out for Lorna’s birthday and he cracks…do not stand between him at the Krispy Kreme. I’ve seen Kevin eat a solid dozen to himself.


Vegan Veronica

Oh Veronica, she who judges everyone else. Veronica loves an avocado, lives on soy green tea matcha chai turmeric lattes and pretty much lives on dust…

Veronica is not Vegan due to her political, religious or animal welfare beliefs. Oh no. Veronica is Vegan because Tiffany Watson from ‘Made in Chelse’a said she should be. (No offence Tiff!)

Don’t be Veronica.


So there we have it, your office eating habits summarised in one easy blog.

Who are you? I’m definitely a Lunchbox Lorna.


For all things food related, as well as management, change & transformation email me on

You can view more about Kate Wass our executive interim specialist here.

How to lose friends and alienate people…

How to lose candidates and alienate people
How to lose candidates and alienate people

We are in the 21st Century and candidates SHOULD be at the centre of what we do. Let’s be real for a moment. Candidates are key to our success – they are the one thing that stands between success and failure as a recruiter.

But I would be bold and say 40% of recruiters treat their candidates like shit. Treating a candidate badly can destroy the reputation of you/your business. Any press isn’t always good press and trust me candidates talk. And they talk even more when they have had a bad experience.


So, here’s what not to do:

1.   Sell them the dream…

I get it…recruitment marketing is a hot topic right now, everyone is getting training on how to write engaging job adverts, how to be witty and get candidates attention etc. That doesn’t mean you have a to be a billy bullshitter. Don’t sell the candidate the dream – unless of course, the job is Chief wine taster at an exclusive hotel in the Bahamas – because who would turn that down?

Anyway, my point is, be honest with a candidate when talking about a role. Yes, tell them all the good things about the role, but tell them all the bad things too! Talk them through the client’s challenges and shortcomings.

Jobs aren’t all about flexible working and table tennis tournaments, sometimes companies are in a bad situation, don’t have the best brand etc. and that’s ok, in fact, some people like that about a job!


2.   Force a candidate into a role they aren’t sure on

Picture this. After hours of searching on LinkedIn and your job boards, you come across the holy grail of candidates. Your purple squirrel, glittery unicorn, whatever you want to call them. They are the perfect candidate for your role.

You pick up the phone, excited to tell your candidate about their dream job. But to your shock, they aren’t keen.

Newsflash. Just because they are perfect for the role, doesn’t mean the role is perfect for them. Respect their decision.

Don’t try and push them into going for an interview. Don’t even push them to apply if they aren’t keen. You look desperate and pushy.

You risk them being offered the job and turning it down, or worse, you risk them leaving in that elusive rebate period. You also risk them thinking you are a bit of an idiot and that you only care about your fee.


3.   Drag your candidate into an ownership war with another agency

It is the most frustrating thing in the world when you spend time qualifying, meeting and briefing a candidate on a role, send them over to your client…only to get the dreaded email response.

‘ We have already received this CV from Cowboy Recruitment, sorry’.

The candidate has not been spoken to by Cowboy Recruitment about the role (they claim!) so doesn’t know how her CV is already in the process.

There are two ways of dealing with this:

–       Politely step away from the situation and allow the candidate decide how they wish to proceed in the process.

–       Demand that the candidate calls the other recruiter immediately and tell them how terrible they are, whilst simultaneously emailing you to confirm that you have the right to represent them on the role.

I advise the first. Step away and allow the candidate to decide how they process. Naturally, there is some subtle influence you can have on this, but doing the second option makes you look like a petulant teenager.

Candidates also don’t need the reminder that they are simply just a fee to you – it makes you look greedy. Show them you are supportive and have their best interest at heart.


4.   Call your candidate in the morning on the day they are due to start their new job and then every day for the next 3 months

Your candidate isn’t an 18-year-old teenager who may or may not turn up to work, depending on how pissed they were the night before (apologies to any sober, reliable 18-year-olds).

You don’t need to ring them the day they start their job. A simple call the afternoon before, to check they have everything they need or the following day will suffice.

Candidates are intuitive, they will sense that the fact you are calling them every day means they are a flight risk. Also, their first few weeks are really full on. Give them some space and allow them to settle in, then check in with them.


5.   If your candidate doesn’t get offered the job….ignore them

In my opinion, this is the worst possible thing you could do to a candidate and it is the most damaging thing for your reputation.

Nobody really likes to tell a candidate they didn’t get the job…but it is not acceptable to ghost them. Other unacceptable ways of delivering feedback include emailing, leaving a voicemail, or getting your resourcer to give the feedback instead.

Don’t be a terrible human being. Your candidate has worked hard for you, they have understood the brief, done their research, spent 2-3 hours of their time with your client to represent you to the best of their ability. The least they deserve is some honest feedback.


6.   Give vague feedback

Almost as crappy as giving no feedback, is giving vague feedback. If you are giving feedback on your opinion to a candidate, don’t be afraid to tell them the truth.

Think their CV needs some work? Tell them.

Don’t think they interview well? Tell them.

They don’t have the right skills for the role? Tell them.

You get the gist.

A separate challenge is when a client gives vague feedback about a candidate. It is ok to push back on your client and ask for further detail or examples of what the candidate did.

Feedback should be constructive. Tell them what they did well, where they fell down and how they could improve.

Candidates may not always agree with the feedback, but they will be appreciative of the feedback nonetheless.


7.   Only communicate by email

If you are afraid to pick up the phone to speak to a candidate, you are in the wrong job. Pick up the phone and speak to them, what is the worst that could happen? It takes as much time and effort to speak to someone on the phone as it does to type out that email.

Contacting people exclusively by email is impersonal, impractical and to be totally honest, just bloody lazy! I don’t care if your candidate isn’t based in the UK and there is a time difference, or if they are travelling, or you are ‘super busy’…pick up the phone!!

Now I’m sure some of you are reading this, thinking it all seems pretty obvious. I’m also sure a lot of you reading this are guilty of doing one of the above things.

We are all guilty of letting standards slip from time to time, but let’s do our best not to become one of the clichés in those recruitment bashing posts we see on Linkedin!



For all things interim management, change & transformation, get in touch with us via the info form below, and if you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog, email me on


You can view more about Kate Wass our executive interim specialist here.

Insider Story – Resourcing Transformation at Gowling WLG

For August’s instalment of Insider’s Story, I met up with not only one of my favourite HR professionals, but one of my favourite people in general, to talk about ‘resourcing transformation’.

The wonderful Jo Franklin, Head of Resourcing for Gowling WLG, agreed to sit down with me and have a chat about the huge ‘resourcing transformation’ journey they have been on.

She explains how they have transformed their resourcing strategy and well and truly stepped out of the ‘Wragge & Co shadow’.

Gowling WLG has been on quite a ride over the past few years…

What was once Wragge & Co, then Wragge, Lawrence Graham & Co, (before joining forces with top Canadian law firm Gowlings) and finally Gowling WLG was born.

Jo joined the business post-merger in the early part of 2016. They had gone from being in the Top 25 to overnight becoming a part of a major international law firm. As a result of this, their resourcing and talent strategies needed some serious development and she was in responsible for resourcing transformation.

“ It was a testing period”, Jo admits “as I joined, three of my most experienced team members were going on maternity leave. All of that knowledge and experience leaving at a time of considerable change!”

The Transformation

The vision was clear; to make Gowling WLG a recognised brand in the marketplace, to compete against the top law firms and to secure the best talent across lateral, business services and early talent.

The perception that the resourcing team was very much an administrative support function was something that Jo wanted to change. As around 60% of the team’s time had been spent on recruitment admin, they wanted to adopt a business partnering approach and get more stakeholder facetime.

Jo says, “We wanted to have a position in the market where we could source directly, because of our reputation.”

To put this into perspective in the legal sector, agency hire rates sits at around 60-70%. Jo had set herself a target of direct sourcing at 60%.

In order to achieve this, the team needed to look at a number of things including Employer Brand, EVP and Internal Engagement.

How did you do it?

One of the key pieces to landing any big transformation is to engage with your people and to take them along on the journey. They wanted to focus on their people, rather than the work they do.

Gowling decided to undertake 360-degree feedback to determine their true employer values.

This consisted of 12 workshops with people across the brand, from trainee to partner level. It also involved leadership interviews and market research to understand what made working at Gowling WLG different and unique.

From this developed an employer value proposition (EVP)framework upon which the new careers site would be based.

Headed up by the team members returning from maternity leave, they employed the service of two specialist agencies to convert their EVP into attraction messaging and built their careers site around this.

In order to meet their own challenging direct sourcing targets (60% of all offers), their social media and direct hiring activity needed to be supported by a creative, informative and content-rich careers website.

This is Gowling WLG’s first full careers site. For several years, the firm has had an early talent website, but the offering for fee earners and business service professionals was limited, and the team was keen to promote their new enhanced apprenticeship programme. Now they have detailed information on the firm, its culture and all the different job families in one place, which is presented in a creative and engaging way.

‘You can’t just tell people what your values are’

A common mistake that many organisations make is just announcing what their Values and EVP are, rather than engaging with people, which can alienate people and leave them feeling unsure of their identity.

Rather than just announcing firm values, it is far more effective to live and breathe them, and they slowly infiltrate into the business as usual.”

There must be a mindset change for any transformation to be implemented successfully.

Jo and her team did this through empowering the people around them.. Rather than focussing on what was wrong with the current approach, they demonstrated how great things really could be by sharing knowledge and helping people to understand that there are other ways of attracting great candidates…

Jo says, “Don’t tell people, let them experience it”

Developing a ‘Dream Team’

Jo recognised that in order to truly provide a value-add service to the business, developing her team’s offering was key.

At the time of joining, their agency spend was substantial…

Due to previously having a limited view of forthcoming requirements, the firm had become used to a reactive approach to recruitment and this was going to be a huge change for them.

Proving the model worked and providing tangible results in the first few months was vital, both in the quality of candidates introduced and time to hire.

One of the key hires to the team was Chris Lake, who had an exceptional track record in direct resourcing, having worked for a legal agency for 6 years prior to joining Gowling WLG.

Jo empowered the team to start taking a more forward-thinking approach. They began to identify and map the key markets within the firm’s key sector areas, understanding the active candidate market but more importantly building a picture of passive candidates that could be developed into a talent audience for the future.

The resourcing advisors started to build trust with key stakeholders and taking time to understand their business objectives and working with managers to plan for skills gaps and provide competitor insight and analysis to build credibility.

‘This wasn’t an original solution’

Now Jo, whilst undeniably fantastic, isn’t a part of some kind of secret recruitment magic circle!

The direct sourcing model isn’t an original solution, however, it’s usage within the legal sector is limited within the Top 100 law firms. In addition to this, varied results and methods are evident across the sector – i.e. direct sourcing limited to business services/non-fee earner roles or paralegal level recruitment in some firms.

What is clear, however, is that Jo has opened her stakeholders’ eyes to ‘what could be’ if they trusted in her and her team.

By really engaging with your people, being armed with knowledge and taking a genuine interest in your stakeholders, you can build fantastic relationships.

This doesn’t necessarily happen over-night. Jo herself will admit it has been in huge part down to her teams’ sheer persistence, determination and energy to truly add value that this transformation has been such a huge success

Where are they now?

12 months after Jo and Chris joined the business, Gowling WLG had succeeded in reducing its cost per hire by 41%. The time to hire for the new direct talent strategy 30% lower than for previous hires through recruitment agencies.

The success has continued with the team meeting their direct hire targets year on year, producing real and credible savings on agency spend, whilst still focusing time on building relationships with their key agencies to help with niche roles. By April 2018, they had exceeded their initial 60% goal.

The team were also delighted to receive a prestigious HR in Law award in May for their careers site, which they are now extending out to their international offices, the first being Dubai.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Jo Franklin for taking part in my Insiders Story series! To find out more about life at Gowling WLG, visit their careers page at:

For all things interim management, change & transformation, get in touch with us via the info form below, and if you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog, email me on

You can view more about Kate Wass our executive interim specialist here