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Case Study: How We Turned A Toxic Culture Into A Happy, Profitable Workplace [Download Free Resources]

Today we’re sharing the true story of a UK business crippled by low morale, a revolving door of disengaged staff,  expensive mistakes and re-work, stressed business owners, and unhappy clients.

It’s also the true story of how dynamic and proactive  HR support transformed a company in crisis.

Many businesses may believe that they don’t require HR support; however, often, it can be a case of not knowing what they need until they have it. 

Without proactive HR advice and support, a business’s strategy may be too heavy on outcome and profit and not focused enough on the people. If this is the case, the business may encounter endless people issues and challenges, constant turnover and absenteeism, client dissatisfaction and a company culture that is not conducive to optimal success. 

This case study demonstrates how HR Star formed an ongoing relationship with a business to understand the root of the company issues and work together to create solutions, achieve business goals and cultural change and encourage engaged employees and satisfied clients.

A Business In Trouble 

Let’s start with the background . . .

Our client’s company had high employee turnover and absenteeism, and the majority of leavers were ‘bad’ leavers. 

The people issues were becoming more frequent. 

The mindset of the business was to avoid in-depth HR support as the two Directors’ focus was to invest money in other ways and fix people problems when they arose rather than seeking to prevent them in the first place. 

Essentially, the Directors had opposing views of their people. One held a ‘Hire and fire,’ approach to underperformers and the other one wanted to avoid conflict and manage matters properly.

By the way, here’s a handy free resource for you: Your Management Style – Self Assessment Quiz & Guide. This questionnaire identifies four key competencies in management and asks you to consider a range of specific behaviours. The overall assessment allows you to use the scores from the questionnaire to assess your effectiveness in preventing and reducing stress in your staff. 

There was a financial cost of recruitment fees to replace leavers (potentially £2,000 per recruit), and it cost the business time to recruit new employees and train them. 

In Kelly Tucker’s (HR Star Managing Director) words, staff turnover was creating a negative culture when she first started working with them:

When someone new started, current employees didn’t make the effort  to introduce themselves as they believed that the new people  wouldn’t be there in a couple of weeks.’

Also, there were the costs of organising settlement agreements and other legal fees. 

It seemed that high turnover was impacting the engagement of other employees who worried they would be next or decided they wanted to leave too. It created a culture of unhappy and disengaged employees.  

A Proactive Approach Required

Initially, the business used HR Star for employment record management and ad hoc issues, such as onboarding documentation and end of probation reviews. However, as the people issues increased and became more serious, Kelly Tucker spoke with the client about the benefits of a more proactive HR support aim at reducing:

  • Disgruntled, unengaged employees
  • Performance issues
  • Absenteeism
  • Turnover
  • Cost (in relation to turnover, recruitment fees, retraining etc.)

Getting A Fresh Perspective

Once the business agreed to a proactive HR approach, Kelly and the HR Star team brought a fresh perspective to the situation by commencing a thorough investigation of the people to understand how they felt about their employer. 

Kelly carried out one-to-ones with each employee and discovered the following:

  • The overriding trend in feedback was that employees felt that management only wanted to make money, and they did not care about their staff or their development. 
  • Male workers were separated from female workers in different offices because they did different roles. This division was not challenged until HR Star questioned the impact on the broader company culture. 
  • The interior of the office and the décor was outdated and was having a negative impact on the people who worked there. 

Kelly ensured the feedback was given to the Directors. They were shocked and unaware of the feelings of their people. 

By the way, here’s a handy free resource for you: One-To-One Coaching Meeting Script & Planner. Use this document to prepare for your next one-to-one meeting with a team member. The document also gives you a conversational script to use so you know exactly what to say. Download it from here.

Improving Performance And Communication

Before HR Star worked closely and regularly with the company, there were many ‘bad’ leavers and turnover was a problem. 

One example HR Star helped with highlights the importance of proactive communication and people management from the moment an employee starts a job. 

One employee did not pass his probation, and he challenged the end of his employment because he wasn’t made aware of what was expected of him in his job and he wasn’t given support or regular feedback. He threatened legal action. Kelly believes that if he had been given management support in the form of regular check-ins, feedback, objectives (and these were documented) then he may not have failed his probation period or it wouldn’t have been a surprise to him when he did.

By the way, here’s a handy free resource for you: Induction Checklist. Hiring a new member of staff? How you welcome them at the start makes a huge difference to their performance and engagement at work. Use this checklist to get things started in the best possible way. 

Implementing The Action Plan

Although the feedback was difficult for the Directors to hear, it was insightful and marked the commencement of an ongoing partnership with HR Star, who created a project plan for the business.

HR Star reviewed and updated all contracts of employment and the employee handbook and introduced their employee voice platform which gains employee feedback to assess engagement and development opportunities.

As a result of the employee feedback, the business made many improvements by:

  • Carrying out training with their managers
  • Improving some of the employee benefits
  • Giving regular updates to staff about business objectives and successes
  • Taking employees out for social events
  • Changing the interior of the office with new furniture and décor

HR Star now carries out quarterly one-to-ones with all employees for feedback, and they have worked with the management team to develop and promote people from within. Kelly believes that by working closely together, the attitude of the Directors about their people has changed. There has been a significant shift from them viewing staff as necessary to drive company profit to focusing on the people and their development and engagement. 

‘Their engagement scores have increased, and they see the benefit of investing in their people. They’re so much nicer to their staff.’ Kelly Tucker, Managing Director, HR Star.

By the way, here’s a handy free resource for you: Top 10 Tips To Boost Employee Motivation. We’ve all been through some terrible times recently. This quick guide shares some simple but very powerful ways to help your staff get back on their feet and feeling good about work again. 

Outcome: A Happy, Profitable Workplace

They’ve got a settled, experienced and happy team, whose number one priority now is delivering.’ Kelly Tucker, Managing Director, HR Star,

The outcome of the proactive HR support from HR Star, and the continued partnering with the client was incredible.

Staff morale and engagement metrics as measured by employee engagement software increased from 5 to 8.5 (out of 10).

The proactive changes implemented as a result of employee feedback allowed staff to feel more valued, engaged and part of the same team. For the first time, management was interested in their feedback and input about what it was like to work there. 

Employee turnover reduced by 50%

Another positive outcome was the reduction in staff turnover. 

Before HR Star’s involvement, there was constant turnover, and the majority of churn was bad leavers who left to go to competitors or were dismissed because they weren’t performing. Such continuity of unhappy leavers not only cost the company money but contributed to a culture of unhappy and demotivated employees.

Kelly believes that HR Star’s involvement has also increased the satisfaction levels of the client’s own clients.

Initially, clients were unhappy with the quality of work. The low quality of work may have been a direct result of the high turnover and the lack of consistent and trained staff. 

The high turnover created a cycle of disengaged workers and therefore low productivity, quality and output. 

By reducing turnover and ensuring a thorough induction and training for all employees, client consistency, satisfaction and confidence increased.

Even during COVID-19, the company has continued to grow; ‘They’ve still been hitting their targets and still hiring new clients and still upselling to existing ones.’ Kelly Tucker, Managing Director, HR Star.

By the way, here’s a handy free resource for you: 20 Questions To Answer Before Your Employees Will Perform At Their Best After Lockdown.

Not only are the employees benefiting from the improved workplace and culture, but the Directors are also happy with the results. After some initial resistance to proactive HR support, they see the benefits of the interaction with HR Star. They have invested in management training, revamped the office interior and are investing in and developing their people instead of viewing them as a by-product of the business.

This close partnering of HR Star with a failing business highlights not only the importance of listening to your people but also about the positive influence of HR input and the success HR can bring. 

Need Some Help In Your Business?

If you’d like a little help or just an independent outside perspective on how to create a happy, productive, and profitable workplace, get in touch with us here.

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