How RebusHR wrapped up Baco’s HR function

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. RebusHRwas called in to support the day-to-day HR operations of packaging company BacoConsumer Products after two rapid sales of the company left its own small HRdepartment hopelessly under resourced. Nic Paton reportsTo an outsider, the world of packaging and foil or transparent wraps may notappear to be a roller coaster ride of thrills and spills. But for Jane Quy, HRdirector for Baco Consumer Products – the name behind the Bacofoil brand amongothers – the past three to four years have been just that. In that time the company, based in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, has been soldtwice. First it was bought by US firm Reynolds Metals which, in turn, in 2000,was acquired by US firm Alcoa, the largest aluminium company in the world. With only two administration staff to support her, Quy found herselfmanaging the HR needs of 500 employees split between two factory sites.Unsurprisingly, an evaluation carried out by Alcoa soon after its takeoverdiscovered the company was under-resourced in HR and something needed to bedone – and fast. However, adding to the sparse headcount in the HR department was simply notan option, says Quy. Quite apart from the cost of hiring a new face, there wasno spare desk. And, however good the person hired it would inevitably be sixmonths before they were fully up to speed – time Quy did not have to spare. The solution is a good example of how a small firm with limited resources,can use outsourcing to relieve the burden on its hard-pressed HR department andcut costs, while at the same time bringing tangible added value to thefunction. “I was just about managing to get the operational side of the functiondone, but I was not doing very well on, or rarely getting to, the strategicneeds. Then I had a phone call out of the blue from Rebus which suggested to methat outsourcing might be an option,” recalls Quy. Outsourcing specialist RebusHR was established 35 years ago and includes araft of blue-chip companies among its roster of clients, including ManchesterUnited, Sainsbury’s, Consignia and CGNU. From that first contact with Baco in September 2000, a two-year £30,000contract was swiftly thrashed out, which went operational just two monthslater. “I was able to justify the cost against the amount of legal feesthat had been paid out the year before,” says Quy. “At that time the HR function was nurse, fireman and police. It was agatekeeper and that is not how it should be. Rarely a day went by when amanager was not in my office with a problem or an employee in tears. I couldsee nothing but tribunals ahead of us.” RebusHR carried out an audit of the company’s HR processes and functions andquickly identified what was needed. The first priority was to tackle the basic policiesand procedures. The company, says Marika Hall, Rebus’ account manager for Baco and seniorpersonnel consultant at the firm, had no comprehensive handbook in place. Therewere no standardised policies or procedures that managers could work within. “Previously managers did not have guidance and would call Jane, but ifshe was tied up, they would go ahead anyway,” she explains. Guidance was drawn up on a wide range of issues, from grievance anddisciplinary procedures to absenteeism and this was distributed to managers asa handbook. Two RebusHR consultants lead the work with Baco, although theyremain employed by RebusHR. They are backed by a helpline that managers can call any time to sort outqueries or to gain advice. The company could also have bought in a RebusHR ITsystem but decided its own system was up to the job. Hall explains that RebusHR is essentially now responsible for everything interms of HR that happens on an operational, day-to-day basis within theorganisation or where managers need help or guidance. This could be anything from dealing with a grievance or managing someoneback to work to dealing with a long-term absence. “If there is a problem on the shopfloor, they will not ring Jane, theywill ring us at RebusHR. If we are not available, then they can ring thehelpdesk,” says Hall. One of the hurdles was gaining the trust of managers working in a small,highly competitive field. It took the best part of six months for managerswithin the company to recognise they could go to RebusHR first with a problem,and for them to feel they could trust its judgment. Managers were worried about excluding the in-house HR team or simply feltQuy needed to be involved, admits Quy. This initially led to overlap, withmanagers sometimes approaching RebusHR but still following it up with Quy, butthis has since settled down. “In the last six months, there has been muchmore of a swing towards managers making direct contact or being referred on byme,” says Quy. Quy will speak most days on the phone to Hall or her colleague. Normallythere is also someone available on site one or two days a week. And there areregular update meetings every two weeks. “You can often find yourselfquite isolated in HR. Having other HR people there to bounce ideas around hasbeen a plus. It helps you to build up your own confidence,” admits Quy,who adds the set-up effectively gives her an informal HR network to tap into.Such a resource can be an invaluable asset for the hard-pressed HRprofessional. Now the bread and butter HR processes have been dealt with, RebusHR isturning its attention to other “life cycle” issues within theorganisation, such as mentoring systems and benchmarking. Other areas willinclude recruitment and appraisal processes – what Hall terms “drivingproactive areas of HR rather than reactive” that an organisation canattend to once it knows it has its HR foundations in place. “Since RebusHR came on board, we have not had any claims made againstus, touch wood,” adds Quy. She estimates that, in just one year, thecompany has saved £20,000 through its contract with RebusHR. “The message is very much ‘contact us when you are thinking about whatyou want to do, before it becomes a problem, not once you have aproblem,’” she adds. Should a claim be made that comes about as the result of actions taken onadvice or guidance from RebusHR, the outsourcing company will cover the costsof any action. “One of the big advantages of outsourcing is that you transfer theresponsibility. We give best practice advice, whereas if it were their own HRemployee and they gave wrong advice, then they take the consequences,”says Hall. For many smaller organisations such as Baco, HR is often perceived bymanagement as something to be frightened of, a bit of an unknown, she adds. ButBaco’s experience shows outsourcing need not be solely for the large or bluechip organisations. Smaller firms can benefit just as much, as long as they areprepared to make the leap. “I guess there will come a time when we shall totally have to overridethe advice that we have been given, but that hopefully will be the exceptionrather than the rule,” says Quy. “For me, the main benefit is we have put all the aspects of the HRfunction that are generic into the hands of the experts. With the breadth ofthe HR remit these days, it is often impossible to be an expert in all theareas that you are required to be. “This has released me to be able to think. I am now starting to havetime to consider the longer-term HR strategic issues instead of beingconstantly dragged back in to the ‘day-to-day’ problems.” RebusHR involvement cuts tribunal risks – Baco Consumer Products employs 500people split between two factories– The HR department consists of just three people, directorJane Quy and two assistants– The main benefit of Baco’s outsourcing agreement with RebusHRhas been a complete reduction in the spiralling cost of tribunal cases againstthe firm– Since being appointed, there have been no cases brought bydisgruntled employees and the contract has saved the firm an estimated £20,000– Rebus has also standardised procedures, put in place acompany-wide HR handbook and freed Quy to look at the wider, strategic issuesfacing the company– Looking further ahead, RebusHR is beginning to work with Bacoon the next tier of HR issues, particularly recruitment and appraisal processes Previous Article Next Article How RebusHR wrapped up Baco’s HR functionOn 5 Feb 2002 in Personnel Todaylast_img

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