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hrworksmart - supporting the people and skills agenda in Bedfordshire

Written by Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce | 16 Sep 2019

hrworksmart provide flexible HR support to businesses across the country and cover three core areas: recruitment, training and retention.

Working primarily with small to medium businesses, they offer an affordable subscription service for companies who have grown to a size where they need help with staff-related issues, but can't yet commit to a full-time HR manager.

Having recently enrolled on our Bedfordshire Business Ambassador programme, we spoke with Angie Brothers at hrworksmart, to find out more about her business and what she hopes to achieve in her role as ambassador.

Supporting small to medium businesses with people-related issues

At the heart of the hrworksmart business model is a drive to help businesses identify and manage people issues before they become problems. This means providing more than just a set of policies and a telephone number for when things go wrong.

“Tribunal cases have rocketed by 165% in the last two years. We’re trying to help employers and employees avoid going through that process by being more proactive. Often, HR only get involved when it’s too late. But most staffing-related issues can be avoided if managed proactively.”

This is why, unlike many of their competitors, hrworksmart offer all clients a monthly review meeting with a dedicated HR manager.

“Our clients get a dedicated HR manager that meets with them each month to understand what their staffing requirements and people issues are, and to identify some of the potential problems that might need to be mitigated so that they don’t then become an issue. These monthly meetings are pivotal because by going through those conversations the unforseeable risks can be teased out.”

Angie maintains that having one dedicated HR manager means you have support from someone who knows your business and can ask the right questions.

“Unless you're dealing with the same person and that person is asking you the right questions, you can't identify the sometimes relatively minor tell-tale signs that a problem is brewing. We get to know the team, the nuances of the team, the personalities and the history. This allows us to prompt those conversations in a constructive way and propose practical solutions to mitigate.”

For Angie, HR is more than just writing policies. It’s about people and skills.  hrworksmart's expertise covers everything staffing related, from helping business owners attract and bring in the right talent and ensuring successful onboarding, right through to performance management and upskilling staff to help the business to grow.

“Many people don’t make the connection between HR and the people and skills agenda. Often, the perception is HR is the office at the end of the corridor, the people who write the policies. But one example of the practical things we are doing is recruitment, and in particular, working with employers to bring their recruitment in-house rather than having to pay sometimes very costly agency fees and struggling to attract the right talent and the right skill-sets”

“Upskilling staff is another core focus. We often see that managers are very technically competent at what they do, whether it’s engineering or surveying, but sometimes don’t have the skills to get the best out of people. And this is where we can help.”

What hrworksmart hope to achieve as a Bedfordshire Business Ambassador

Angie and her team made the decision for hrworksmart to join the Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce back in June this year. Though they work with lots of businesses across the country, they wanted to grow their client base in the local Bedfordshire area.

Angie told us about their ambition to support local businesses and the experience they’ve had since joining the Chamber.

“In Bedford, 56% of our town’s occupants are independents and we wanted to link up a bit more with those. We’ve been doing some networking events and the Chamber was recommended to us as an option. Since we joined in June the support has been fantastic. We’ve been invited to a number of events, have met with Justin and Paula, and been to Bedford Borough Council meetings regarding the future needs of Bedford based businesses.

It was this positive experience that encouraged them to get involved in the Bedfordshire Business Ambassador programme

“The Chamber have been really helpful and that’s why we wanted to get involved in the ambassador programme - to give something back. We’re already providing support to local community groups such as Companions, a community interest bakery supporting ex-offenders into employment.”

Listening to the people issues of small and medium sized businesses and finding practical and workable solutions is what Angie and her team at hrworksmart do best. And it’s something they want to extend to a wider audience.

“Everyone we work with, including the associates that work on our behalf, all have operational experience - this ensures we're always able to provide practical solutions and sometimes direct intervention rather than just advice alone.”

“As ambassadors, we want to offer local business owners the chance to bring their staffing problems to people who have experience of dealing with similar situations first-hand. As a small business owner, if you have staffing issues it’s impossible not to take them personally and these are often the things that keep business leaders up at night."

"The ambassador programme is an obvious one for us as it means more of doing what we do best - having chats with people about their staffing problems and then coming up with practical solutions.”

By working with the Chamber and local authorities, Angie and her team are excited to use their experience and network to help businesses with people-related issues.

Bedfordshire Quarterly Economic Survey

Topics: Bedfordshire Business Ambassador, hrworksmart

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