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 – work 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.


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.


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.  

Using robots to make Human Resources more human…

Using robots to make Human Resources more human

I know what you’re thinking….surely that doesn’t make sense? How can robots make things more human?

RPA and AI are becoming more and more popular within shared services functions across the world, but countries have very different views on them.

In china, they want to use it for world domination. In America, they believe it will put businesses in the best possible commercial position. And in the UK…well, we still don’t want robots to hurt us or take our jobs.

I have to tell you guys, the least popular purpose for automation is headcount reduction. If your primary goal when automating is to reduce headcount or to save money, then it will more than likely fail.

Automation is used to enable better quality in operations and more workforce agility.

So, what is RPA and what is AI and why should you use it?

RPA and AI often get mistaken for the same thing, or organisations decide to use both. RPA and AI are two different technologies, with two different uses, and quite often you don’t need both!

The Lowdown on RPA and AI

AI is short for Artificial Intelligence. Artificial Intelligence replicates the human thought process. It takes the knowledge of a human and builds it into the application. AI deals with unstructured data, meaning that it self improves and continuously thinks and learns. It is the ‘brain and spine’.

RPA is short for Robotic Process Automation. RPA behaves like a person. It deals with high volumes of structured data to carry out repetitive tasks that humans do. The purpose of RPA is to remove those high volume, repetitive tasks that we hate. It is ‘the fingers’.

How do you decide?

Before you chose to adopt RPA or AI, as a business you have some big questions to ask yourself – as the decisions you make will affect the next 10 years of your business operations.

  • What business am I in?
  • How do I want to deliver services?
  • What do I need my operating model to look like?

The cultural impact of automation is significant. It touches every employee and manager within an organisation, so equally, the training and messaging around automation has to be key!

How to make it successful?

  • Choose your areas of automation carefully and then work with humans to identify what can be offloaded to automation and take their knowledge to create the automation.
  • Train your people on RPA and AI. Help them to understand what it is and how they can identify processes that may be suitable for automation.
  • Get your house in order! Automation only works with good, clean data.
  • Continually review your processes to make sure your automation is efficient and user friendly.

Automation is your friend. It isn’t here to take your job or make your life hard. On the contrary, the whole point of automation is to take the robot out of the human. To remove the high volume, menial tasks within your role or your team, freeing people up to contribute more value-add work to your business, so don’t fear it, work with it!

For all things HR Shared Services, change and 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 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.  

Why HR Shared Service Centres fail

HR Shared Services

HR Shared Services are set up to streamline HR activities, which reduces costs, increases the efficiency of business processes and frees up time to concentrate on strategy.

HR Shared Services functions can add a lot of value if you do it right. If you get it wrong, it can have a negative effect on employee experience and relationships throughout the business with HR can be damaged.

Technology plays a big part in making HR Shared Services effective, but the exact structure and scope of HRSS really depends on the company and various other factors.

Why does HR Shared Services go wrong?

Organisations use shared services as a way of streamlining their HR activities, typically concentrating transactional activities into a centralised and commonly shared function. The shared service model can help businesses reduce costs and increase efficiency of processes and allow a greater focus on HR strategy.

When done well, HR Shared Service Centres (HRSSC) add untold value to an organisation. However, get it wrong and it can ruin employee experience and destroy the relationship between HR and the wider business. But why does it fail?

You haven’t engaged the business in the change

When you implement a HRSSC, two groups of people need properly consulting. The people working in the shared service centre and those who will be using it. Both of these groups are equally important. You need to take your customers on the journey with you and engage and influence, in order for them to understand how you’re changing the way they currently do things. If either of these groups of people aren’t engaged, the SSC simply won’t work.

You have rushed it

Delivering a HRSSC into a business takes time. It isn’t something you can decide to do and then implement within 2 weeks. You cannot do it half-arsed. There are a lot of things to consider – from mapping out processes and ensuring you have the right technology, right down to hiring and onboarding the right talent. All of these things take time. If you rush any areas and don’t give them the time and attention they need, the chances are they will fail.

You don’t use analytics to measure success and continuously improve

Establishing the right metrics to analyse in a HRSSC is the key to success. By monitoring data, you can see how your teams are performing and highlight inefficiencies and potential problem areas, that may need investigation.

Measuring results and data enables informed decisions to be made that drive your HRSSC to continually develop and run better. This gives your HR teams the resources they need to be successful, provides employees with a better experience and ultimately gets the business results you want.

Poor leadership

Having the right leader is important for any team, particularly in a shared service environment. If you have the wrong leaders in a share service centre, the wheels can fall off the entire operation, leaving you with an unhappy, disengaged team who lose their passion for delivering excellence. When this happens, the knock-on effect across the business can be immense.

A good shared service leader should be able to look beyond the SSC and understand the impact it has on employees, as well as customer and clients.

You don’t have the right technology

Technology is a fundamental component of any HRSSC. If you don’t have the right technology, then the SSC just won’t work. So, you need to check that your current HR systems are fit for purpose. Take time looking at your current systems and processes and what you need them to do. HR tech is a big investment, so make sure you choose the right one. Meet multiple vendors, get demonstrations – and challenge them, to make sure the system does everything you need it to. Modern HR technology allows HR to manage incoming requests, review case histories and related employee files, provide consistent responses and escalate a case when necessary.

You are probably reading this and wondering why I am writing all of this, because it all seems like common sense, right?

You would be amazed at how often people miss out one of the key elements to ensure their HR Shared Service Centre in a success.

So, do you agree? Have you had a Shared Service function which is been fantastic or failed spectacularly? Share your experiences!

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.

Hiring an Interim Executive? You need to get it right! Discover the 8 step process you should follow, by downloading our free eBook here.

Insider story – how to tackle a HR transformation project

Wondering how you’re going to tackle that next big transformation project as well as keeping your sanity intact? Wonder no more, in this blog we talked to Peter Cablis from HR consulting firm Evolving HR about managing a large, complex HR transformation project for Jaguar Land Rover. Peter talks about what was involved in the project and shares his key lessons learnt.

Embarking on a mission critical HR transformation project? Keep your cool with these key insights from Peter Cablis, from Jaguar Land Rover.

“The modern world is volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous and organisations have had to become like rapid-reaction forces, needing to respond quickly, flex and adapt to suit an ever-changing world. HR professionals have needed to adapt too and have been required to manage multiple change programmes over their careers.

No doubt many of you have learned valuable lessons during the change programmes, but how many of you wished you had gone into the experience armed with the wisdom you were set to gain after the project?

While we can’t send you into the future, we can at least give you some insight into the wisdom we gained from a recent large scale, complex transformation programme involving:

  • Multiple business areas and sites
  • The introduction of new technology & major office refurbishment
  • Ordering and trialling of new equipment
  • The transition of new people into a department and their training
  • A major cultural shift for how HR transacts with the business and how business needs to operate
  • Limited budget and finite time for implementation
  • A culture of low accountability and silo’s

Despite these challenges, the project delivered, on time, to budget and was exactly what the customer wanted. So what were the secrets to this successful programme and what can be learned for future HR change programmes? We share a few of the key insights below (this is not an exhaustive list but serves as a guide):

1. Clearly scope out the project. Have clear timelines, measurements and milestones for each activity and phase of the project.

2. Know the skills and experience you need on the project and select the right people. Ensure they are fully dedicated and clear about their role in delivering the project.

3. Be clear who the key stakeholders are and engage with them right at the start.

4. Ensure everyone on the project is clear on their roles and what they are accountable for.

5. Set up a clear project governance board, with the right operational people from the project and the right key stakeholders. Review weekly/daily each part of the project as it proceeds. Make sure there is a ‘Risk, Actions, Issues and Dependencies’ log. Just as importantly, ensure all members of the project team are kept informed of changes and impacts to the overall project and their areas. Consult regularly with them and don’t be reluctant to refine the project plan if required.

6. Chunk the project down into its component parts, so that it becomes manageable and if required have distinct work streams.

7. Always ‘check in’ with the end users/people most likely to be affected by the change, to see if you have missed anything in the project.

8. Have a clear communication and feedback work stream. Consider how the change may affect the end users and adapt both your style of communication and the method of communication accordingly. Use multiple mediums to reach out to these people, including workshops, feedback groups, presentations, regular bulletins and blogs and intranet. Keep the flow of communication going throughout the project.

Thank you to Peter for sharing his knowledge and if you would like to know how to keep your cool and perhaps your sanity during a big-ticket, high-pressure, HR transformation project please contact Peter at EvolvingHR on


To discuss further, you can email me on

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist 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