Our 2019 Independent HR Consultant of the Year, Julie Grabham of Ceredigion-based JGHR Solutions shares the challenges she faced when finding her feet as the face of her business and what she has found to be critical to building an engaged workforce.
1. What challenges did you face after taking the plunge and setting up your own consultancy?
I moved from South Wales to Ceredigion within just three months of starting the business, so not having the most reliable mobile phone signal and Wi-Fi connection was daunting at first, in addition to not feeling as closely connected to the M4.
However, I structured my diary to stay overnight in South Wales at least once a week to keep building the business and attend networking events. For the rest of the week I’d soon found some great and well-connected coffee shops to work in. The digital landscape has made it possible to do business from almost anywhere, so I used free Wi-Fi spots while supporting local businesses and making new contacts.
2. What HR initiative are you most proud of?
Creating a disability leave policy for a client to support an employee and managers. This policy has now been adapted and rolled out across all my clients to encourage inclusion for all.
3. What advice do you give to employers wishing to inspire great leadership and build effective teams?
To be a great leader, you need to understand your own behaviours, be adaptable and communicate well. I advise employers to invest in their own development. All too often, we invest in the team and overlook the “leaders” who sometimes have had no people management training.
4. How can organisations encourage and support young people, apprentices and trainees in their continuing professional development?
By having clear training plans, giving the right level of support for development, having regular career review catch ups and celebrating achievements along the way. Having a buddy in the workplace to support throughout the learning period is also a great motivator and shows a commitment from the company in developing new staff while motivating and engaging the longer-serving “buddy” too.
5. What advice do you have for young people considering a career in HR?
Absolutely go for it! Speak to a few HR professionals and try to visit HR departments. Get as much experience in various sectors as possible and as a generalist. Attend HR events, ACAS forums and so on to upskill and make excellent contacts.
6. How has your consultancy progressed since you were awarded HR Consultant of the Year? Are there any exciting projects you’ve been working on you could tell us about?
My business has grown by 65% since winning the award! The publicity in the local paper in Ceredigion made local business owners aware of my consultancy. Introducing myself as Independent HR Consultant of the Year has been amazing. In addition to supporting my monthly clients, I have supported companies with mergers and seeing the benefit of two companies becoming one successful team is great. Also supporting clients with raising awareness of mental health in the workplace has given me so much more knowledge and enabled my clients to support their employees in a positive and fair way.
7. What emerging trends do you believe will transform the HR landscape in the next decade?
Brexit will continue to have an impact on the UK workforce and legislation. Technology will be one of the biggest drivers of change, impacting how we work, the level of workforce needed and the way we communicate.
8. What do you believe is critical to building an engaged workforce?
Communication, respect, clear goals and the right level of support.
9. What strengths lead individuals to excel in the HR sector?
Determination to get things right, the ability to treat people fairly and assess the facts, not the drama. Having a personality that can engage with everyone and being able to adapt HR policies to the business you represent. Being able to move away from generic HR policies and documents, and treating businesses individually to become an integral and valued support.
My clients refer me onto their contacts because I have built their trust with my extensive HR knowledge and adaptable ways of delivering HR to their business. Having an award winning HR Consultant supporting their business makes them proud that they made the right decision to work with me.
Our fourth annual Wales HR Awards will be held at Sophia Gardens - our most glamourous affair yet, the evening will follow a roaring twenties theme to mark the year 2020!
We will celebrate the unsung HR heroes working behind the scenes to support businesses and organisations of all sizes over the past twelve months. And we can’t wait to shine the spotlight on the monumental achievements of these individuals and teams.
If like Julie your consultancy is ready to accelerate its success and get the recognition it deserves, enter to win 2020’s HR Consultancy of the year.
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