New Forests is a sustainable real assets investment manager offering leading-edge strategies in forestry, land management, and conservation.
What was the state of the HR function when you started?
New Forests had not had a dedicated HR resource before I started, although they did have a good base understanding of HR and had a lot of the essentials in place. So it certainly wasn’t a matter of starting from scratch but there was a lot of work to do to get things like policies and processes updated to current legislation and consistent across teams and offices.
What was their biggest challenge?
Their biggest challenge is moving to a best practice model and the change management process that goes along with it. The company has grown quickly and a more sophisticated and structured HR approach is needed to support the company in its future growth.
What was the thinking behind bringing in Harrisons? How was it done?
One of my first priorities was to put together a learning and development program for New Forests. Training had been on an ad hoc basis and I wanted to find out what the key development needs were from both an individual and organisation point of view before creating a program. Harrison Assessments was recommended as a great holistic tool to determine strengths and development areas across a range of work related traits. We had an all staff retreat coming up which was a great platform for showcasing the results and discussing the HR strategy in more detail. We worked closely with Susan to get all of the debriefs completed face to face.
What was the initial reaction / result?
On the whole, the employees loved it. We had a few that were initially resistant as it can be confronting to see “development” areas that you may not be aware of but Susan did fantastic individual debriefs with each employee which gave them some context to the results and allayed a lot of those concerns. Susan also did a fantastic presentation at our company retreat on the key New Forests results which created a lot of discussion amongst the staff.
What has been the change in the longer term?
This process has given clarity to development areas, which has helped determine the key training areas going forward and build an L&D program. It has also given our employees the drive to be proactive around their development and to talk openly about their development needs and/or interests. Finally, it was a great bonding experience for our employees – they were all sharing results! It gave them an insight into the common traits in the company which means that we can move forward with more understanding of each other and how to tackle traits that may clash with ours.
What other initiatives / achievements have you made since you have been at New Forest?
I’ve updated all of the HR related policies and procedures, put in place new recruitment and induction processes to create more consistency and efficiency as well as better hiring and induction experiences. I have also arranged some critical training and wellness programs for all of our employees.
A quote from Kym: “Having Katie at Employee Matters has allowed me to focus on formulating our longer term HR strategy whilst getting our company to a standardised set of HR policies and practices. It has taken the pressure off dealing with many of the day to day issues and brought a professional and thoughtful approach to dealing with a broad range of matters. It has allowed me to set the platform for our executive team in formulating priorities for HR in our business planning and to develop a resource that is well respected and integral to the success of our business.”