Future Focused HR: Embracing topical trends and progressive practices
Future Focused HR: Embracing topical trends and progressive practices
We know that employers are facing more challenges than ever before when running their business. From the risk of losing staff, the worry of how best to be a supportive employer to the uncertainty of using AI in your business when it is such an unknown but powerful tool.
On 8 November, AAB People are hosting a webinar that will cover some of the most topical HR matters facing employers right now, based on our conversations with clients and from what we see in businesses we deal with day to day. We have included a varied range of topics detailed further below and provide pragmatic advice to business owners, manager and HR professionals on how to effectively deal with the issues we believe they are facing.
The impact of Hybrid Working on Mental Health and how to manage it
Having been catapulted 10 years ahead of where we would have expected to be following the pandemic, has the pendulum swung too far and how do we find a balance between Hybrid working practices and the increase in mental health issues.
This seminar will help employers look at their Hybrid working practices form a “people” perspective to avoid the “one size fits all” approach.
AAB People can work with employers using specialist skills to identify roles, behaviours and personalities best and worst suited to Hybrid working ensuring they get the best out of everyone
How to Retain and Engage Talent
We will cover the importance and benefits of engaged employees and how this links to retention. We know that holding on to great employees is a focus for a lot of employers right now due to a very buoyant recruitment market. We will also discuss factors which can impact employee engagement and methods of increasing engagement and in turn employee retention levels.
Managing AI in the workplace
You will likely have seen the recent influx in conversations about Artificial Intelligence and how people think this is going to impact on the workplace. We are going to look at where AI can be useful, and how to manage it effectively and ethically within the workplace to ensure that it is used in a positive and productive manner.
Nordhealth is a fast-growing international SaaS company which builds software to empower healthcare professionals to focus on what matters most – delivering great care, great experiences and growing their businesses. Their solutions serve more than 30,000 healthcare professionals across 7,000 clinics and hospitals in over 25 countries.
They have over 400 employees globally, and 14 employees based in the UK. Nordhealth is a remote-first employer, meaning that staff work remotely and are based throughout the UK.
AAB People started working with Nordhealth in October 2021, working closely with the UK General Manager to support the growth of the newly established team in the UK. The business had recently acquired a location in the UK, having initially started out in Finland. Their HR policies and procedures were not UK specific and it was of the utmost importance that these were created in order to recruit UK based employees and ensure that they are following UK law. They required the help of qualified HR professionals to create specific documentation and advise on best practices.
As the business unit was new, the AAB People team supported with the creation of HR documentation, including contracts of employment and an Employee Handbook. The team also gave advice and recommendations, taking into account current employment legislation and HR best practice. One of the key challenges faced by Nordhealth was how to embed these new HR policies and practices as the team grows, and how to build the culture of the company when team members are based remotely throughout the UK.
To support these objectives, AAB People facilitated a DISC Insights session for Nordhealth as the DISC model can be used to build awareness and enhance communication and performance within a company. DISC Insights is particularly useful for remote teams, as it is a powerful team building tool.
The DISC Insights session was a great success and gave Nordhealth’s UK team the opportunity to not only get to know each other better, but also to get to know themselves better. This helped the team understand why people might act in a particular way, enabling easier conversation between team members which ultimately contributes towards building a higher-performing team.
‘We’re delighted by our partnership with AAB People and the HR services they continue to provide, having the best practice advice only a phone call away is extremely valuable and the team have taken the time to understand our business and tailor the service we receive to our specific needs helping us to grow.’
Founded in 2011, Soiltech is a Norwegian cleantech service provider specialising in the treatment, recycling and responsible handling of contaminated water and solid industrial waste streams. With a clear purpose to provide clean technologies for a greener future, Soiltech designs, builds, owns and operates its treatment technologies, providing services in close cooperation with the customer on their sites.
Soiltech has 100+ employees working with several clients world-wide, with headquarters in Norway and a strong presence in the UK and the Middle East.
Unusually for most AAB People clients, Soiltech already has an HR manager in place (based at HQ in Norway). But with no presence in the UK, they sought HR expertise in 2022 for UK-specific recruitment and employment. They turned to the AAB People team to set up a new UK entity and identify, locate and recruit UK-based North Sea offshore field personnel, including operators and supervisors. Ever since the collaboration began and now 9 recruits later, AAB People continues to act on a retained basis as the UK recruitment and pre-onboarding arm for UK-based employees. An ongoing responsibility is to create appropriate salary and benefit packages for Norwegian recruits aiming to work in UK and other overseas territories, but who remain employed by a Norway-based company.
This HR collaboration is a unique set-up in that the onboarding process, the ongoing management of employment issues, the performance management and professional development is led by the Norwegian HQ once AAB People has created the UK-compliant systems needed for UK-based employees. Once new recruits are hired, they go on to report to their Norwegian line manager.
Before recruiting could begin, AAB People created a UK arm for Soiltech, registered in Aberdeen. A complete HR infrastructure for Soiltech UK was introduced, putting in place employment contracts, an employee handbook compliant with UK legislation, a payroll process (managed by our dedicated AAB Payroll arm) and several other HR tools to benchmark salaries, make salary recommendations and create bespoke, competitive benefits packages.
In the first few months, AAB People sought and recruited seven engineers for Soiltech UK. This involved creating job descriptions, identifying strong candidates, screening, shortlisting (and sometimes helping to interview) them and creating onboarding documentation once they were hired. In 2023 more engineers were and still are being recruited, and AAB People has helped to create a performance management structure that works for UK employees.
AAB payroll in particular are closely involved with the practical management of UK personnel’s day-to-day financial needs, including the support and upload of all travelling expenses and changes and additions to contract relating to benefits.
With deep knowledge, experience and expertise in the entire HR lifecycle, AAB People acts as an always-there sounding board for Soiltech. Whether it’s about attracting and hiring new team members, developing their careers, managing their performance or managing their salary and benefits, it’s key to the relationship to have fresh perspectives and a reliable steer on the best course of action.
Soiltech’s VP of People and Organisation, Bente Skogen, echoes this last point:
“We have only a small HR team in Norway, and AAB are like an extension of our team. We see them as our colleagues and it’s an, friendly co-operation. I find Frances very knowledgeable – she’s a professional HR person and a great discussion partner. I value her time and the way she’s into the details. If I have a question or an issue that needs help, she always responds quickly.”
“Both Frances and Michael have worked in Norway before, so they understand the nuances and country differences around workplace and employment, which means they can communicate appropriately with Norwegians planning to work in the UK. This is important, because remuneration and employment trends are quite different here, and you can’t compare UK and Norway without understanding why. AAB have helped us create competitive solutions that appeal to Norwegians working abroad.“
“It’s very important to us to have their immediate expertise on UK law, compliance issues and regulatory frameworks. We need to know that we have the correct pension schemes and insurance policies, for example. It saves me a lot of time to have that knowledge on hand and it means expertise on laws and regulations are compliant”
“The AAB team is always there and they follow up well. I feel as if we are their only client even though they have several others. We recently gave just one week’s notice of a recruitment trip to UK and they arranged everything quickly and easily. We use their meeting rooms for interviews and are always warmly welcomed not just by HR but by payroll, finance and other departments too.”
“it’s also important to mention that this co-operation helps us live by our Vision, which is about delivering quality, acting with integrity and taking responsibility. We need their UK expertise to live this fully.”
Employment Legislation Changes: What Employers Need To Know
There are three employment legislation changes that we are expecting to take place in the year ahead. These changes will affect family friendly provisions in the workplace.
Three key changes have been announced by the government which will be the most significant developments to family friendly legislation since 2015 – flexible working rights will be getting a shake up, along with the introduction of carers’ leave and extended redundancy protections for pregnant and new mothers. It is anticipated they will become effective for employers in the year ahead, and the below sets out what employers need to know at this stage about the upcoming changes.
Redundancy Protections During Pregnancy & Maternity Leave
It is well understood by employers that employees expecting a baby, or those on or returning from maternity leave, are already the most protected category of workers in employment law. However, these new proposals will broaden the rights of expectant and new mothers a step further by extending the period of protection for redundancy from the point of an employee informing their employer they are pregnant until 18 months after the birth of their child. What this means in practice is that in redundancy situations pregnant women and expectant mothers will have the right to be offered suitable alternative employment for a longer period. It does not mean that this group of workers will be immune from redundancy, but essentially there will be additional protections from pregnancy, right through to a child reaching 1 and a half years old.
Carers’ Leave Introduction
Carers currently have very limited rights under what is known as Time Off For Care Of Dependents providing ‘reasonable’ unpaid time off. The proposed legislation would be much more prescriptive giving the right for unpaid carers to take up to one week (five working days) of unpaid leave per year. Like the changes to flexible working outlined below, it is anticipated this would be a right regardless of length of service. Employees will not be required to give evidence of the request for leave, and employers will not be able refuse requests, but they will be able to delay requests on limited grounds. It is expected employees will be able to choose to take leave in a flexible way such as single days, half days, or a full week.
Flexible Working Changes
Probably the most wide reaching of the three proposals is the reforms to flexible working, and the changes proposed are a significant shift from the status quo:
Employees will no longer have to justify the effect of their request for the employer, and how the change might be dealt with;
- Rejecting a flexible working request will require consultation by the employer;
- Employees will be able to make two flexible working applications per annum rather than the current right to one application; and
- Decisions on the outcome of a flexible working request will require to be made within 2 months as opposed to the current 3 months.
Impact of Changes
Whilst these are the most significant changes to family friendly legislation we have seen in nearly a decade, even collectively, the impact for working families is likely to minimal. However, they are definite progress – the fact that the government are implementing several new pieces of legislation to give enhanced rights and protections for those with caring responsibilities are a step in the right direction. For employees, the new legislation will give that little bit more protection and confidence in making requests to support their family. For employers, although many have become far more flexible than ever, the introduction of additional laws will serve as clarity on what is expected. Further updates are expected in due course to firm up the details and specific dates of when these laws will become effective in practice.
Furthermore, whilst the upcoming changes are somewhat limited in reach, these three initial reforms are likely to be a catalyst for further change coming down the track in mandating employers to improve their family friendly support to their staff. There is already further provision anticipated with statutory neo-natal leave and pay already approved and also set to be brought into effect over the next year or so. It’s clear that further reform in this area can be expected so watch this space.
Our specialist HR & Employment Law team are here to support you. If you have any questions about the employment legislation changes please do not hesitate to get in contact with a member of the team
Right to Work Checks – What you need to know
What are right to work checks?
As part of the onboarding process right to work checks are a vital part of ensuring businesses are compliant with the law. So, what are right to work checks? They are checks employers carry out with new staff members to ensure they have legal authority to work in the country where they are to be employed. They should also be carried out throughout employment to ensure their right to work is still valid if they do not have a permanent right to work status.
What documentation is considered as evidence of right to work?
There is a useful document on the government website which details what evidence is required. An employer’s guide to right to work checks: 6 April 2022 (accessible version) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). If the employee is from the UK, the right to work would be their valid UK passport and a document that details their national insurance number. This will differ for foreign employees and will usually require evidence of a visa; employers should keep in mind that employees from the EU may be part of the EU settlement scheme and should ask for evidence of this. It is important that all employees are treated the same no matter where they are from to avoid claims of discrimination. Right to work checks should be completed for all employees. Employers should then also carry out ongoing checks on their employees’ right to work, to make sure their visas or passports are in date. If an employee is waiting for confirmation of their visa/ national insurance number, documentation from government bodies evidencing they have applied can be used in the interim.
How should this be stored?
It is important to note that for all right to work checks, employers should sign and date a copy of the right to work documents to say they have seen the original. This should then be clearly labelled and securely stored on the employees’ personal file. Any updated documentation should also follow the same process.
What if an employee is unable to provide appropriate right to work?
It is a criminal offence to employ/ pay individuals who do not have appropriate right to work and so is vital employers keep on top of this. If employees are unable to provide accurate right to work, after a grace period to gain this, they should either have their offer of employment revoked or their employment terminated if they are unable to evidence that it will be obtained in a reasonable amount of time.
Changes that took effect from 1st October 2022
During the pandemic there were changes made to right to work checks to allow employers to check right to work remotely. The changes allowed employers to check right to work by arranging a video call with the employee and checking their scanned documents, if they were unable to check in person. As of 1st October 2022, these changes are no longer valid. Checks will now either need to be in person, or by appointing an Identification Service Provider (“IDSP”). The IDSP will then use Identification Document Verification Technology (“IDVT”) to check the passport of the British & Irish national on behalf of employers. If the employee does not have a passport, then you must see their documentation in person. Please be aware that this could be carried out before the first day of employment, such as at a second stage interview. If the applicant is outside of the UK and Ireland you can use the government checking service, which will require a share code that the employee will have been issued with. View a job applicant’s right to work details – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
If you have any queries about the right to work checks process or any questions about your HR & Employment Law processes please do not hesitate to get in contact with or a member of our HR & Employment Law Team.
Gryffe Valley Pubs
Gryffe Valley Pubs is a family business and the owners are proud to run two beautifully renovated local bar restaurants – “Carriages” in Kilmacolm and the “Fox & Hounds” in Houston.
Both venues aim to deliver a high-quality drinking and dining experience for customers in a friendly and attractive environment. The venues are both local icons; metaphorically and literally at the heart of the villages they serve.
The owners had already worked with the AAB People team to prepare employment documentation such as an Employee Handbook and Contracts of Employment.
In 2021, they were looking for support to review Health & Safety and Fire Safety obligations. The Area Manager, Dale Shepherd, wanted expert help with completing the following for both venues:
Full audit of health & safety standards and practices
Fire risk assessment
Review and refresh of health & safety policy
Ongoing competent person support
Initial audits and inspections were completed on both sites and follow up work then took place off site for both Carriages and Fox and Hounds. This enabled the AAB People Health & Safety team to develop a new health & safety policy and procedures to achieve a consistent approach across the two premises; review and refresh staff training with a particular focus on management responsibilities and ensure that the premises met the required standards for health & safety and fire safety.
Area Manager, Dale Shepherd said,
“I couldn’t be happier with the results of our health & safety review. Having worked with the AAB People’s HR team before, we knew they were excellent to deal with. We were delighted when our experience with the H&S team was just as positive. The advice we got, while undoubtedly compliant, was sensible and practical. Most importantly, we felt they were there to help us and not scare us.”
”The importance of health and wellbeing of our staff and customers is paramount and working with Lee Craig and her team provides significant peace of mind that we are doing the right thing. Based on our experience, I would recommend AAB People to any business looking for professional, sensible advice from people who are genuinely good to deal with!”
Fios Genomics provides bioinformatic data analysis services to pharma companies and academia for drug discovery, development and applied research. (Bioinformatics is the science of collecting and analysing complex biological data such as genetic codes.)
Founded in 2008 and based in Edinburgh, Fios is listed among the top bioinformatics providers, with a large client base in all life science areas. In the last six years alone, its 10-strong team has grown to 46, working with top pharma companies around the world.
Fios has a specialised team of bioinformaticians, statisticians and biologists based mainly in Edinburgh, AAB People has supported the company for over six years in all things HR, excluding recruitment. In the absence of internal HR expertise, Fios sought a long-term partner who could manage, develop and advise on all aspects of workplace life, employment practice and employee relations. The ongoing brief is wide-ranging general HR expertise, guidance and practical tools, from compliance and procedures to performance management, professional development and employee engagement.
A priority since 2022 has been to provide team training across ever-evolving areas relating to people management, such as company-wide diversity and inclusion awareness, to reflect and respect the changing nature of the workplace. Also vital in the post-pandemic landscape of hybrid and remote working has been the provision of training relating to a re-distributed workforce. Pre-2020, almost all Fios staff were based in Edinburgh. Now, most work remotely or within a hybrid arrangement, presenting fresh challenges for leadership, communication and performance management.
Consultant Donna ran training workshops for all 46 Fios employees, including management team training. They included performance management and appraisals guidance for new and established managers, where sessions were created for managers to learn how to manage processes relating to performance management and employee feedback.
Also vital was awareness training in several continually evolving areas: diversity and inclusion, the importance of emotional intelligence in a highly technical, analytical, often ‘black and white thinking’ environment, giving sensitive feedback and having difficult conversations, building resilience and the challenges and practicalities of working from home and here-to-stay hybrid working.
AAB People also provided employee relations guidance, featuring end-to-end process education on all aspects, from mediation, casework, performance management issues to annual leave, maternity leave, absence management, occupational health referrals and disciplinary procedures. In addition, a benefits review and set of recommendations was conducted for Fios in 2022.
Turning to company culture, AAB People ran a Values workshop for Fios in 2020. The outcomes have since underpinned all workplace behaviour, outlook and recruitment, as well as approaches to everyday challenges and problem-solving. An adapted version of AAB’s own ‘Ways of Working Charter’ was introduced, covering mindful, respectful communication with colleagues, people development, time management and overall company culture guidance.
An employee engagement forum was established, in which six representatives of different departments meet voluntarily every six weeks to discuss workplace incentivisation schemes, any emerging team issues and ideas for all-important team social activities, many of which happily include AAB People!
Ensuring robust policies, procedures and compliance is another key part of the brief, including a Right to Work audit to ensure that correct documentation is supplied for every employee in every circumstance.
Ongoing support and a ‘listening ear’ is central to the AAB People-Fios Genomics relationship. CEO Sarah Lynagh has weekly calls with Donna to discuss emerging HR issues and challenges. These might include retention challenges, performance management or specific cases relating to individuals. As testament to her trusted role as senior advisor and HR Lead, Donna is regularly invited to internal leadership meetings where people strategies and decisions play a significant part. She is also first port of call for any employees with HR questions or concerns.
CEO Sarah Lynagh particularly values the advisory role that AAB People play over and above the practical support and guidance of everyday HR issues:
“We have the ideal arrangement, where AAB People are part of our team but act as a slightly independent, neutral source of knowledge and expert guidance. They also ‘keep us right’ in negotiating the teething problems associated with business growth.“
“As CEO of a growing business, you can sometimes get lost in the weeds and the trees. It’s great to have a sounding board in Donna, who can help us decide what to sometimes let go and what to pursue. It’s also beneficial for our business to have access to her wider team and all their client experiences. It takes away the typical pain points of running a company.”
“Before we found AAB People, we had academic processes in place and legal support, but we lacked the ‘softer touch’ expertise needed to nurture a growing team. We needed to take stock and professionalise our HR!”
“We’ve had several new managers facing new scenarios – people whose roles are very technical and who’ve benefited from AAB People’s management training, having never run teams before or been responsible for the development and wellbeing of other colleagues. The training around diversity and inclusion and emotional intelligence really opened our eyes.”
“The emerging issues around post-Covid hybrid-working have been particularly challenging to navigate. It was like a grenade being thrown into our working practice, leading to several new flavours of contract and with them, new types of policy and new people management issues!”
“The world has changed; the levels of flexibility that new recruits, especially younger ones, are demanding, is brand new territory. It’s a fine balance between encouraging office-based working to suit the needs of the job Vs. alienating the discerning talent you’ve worked hard to find. The ‘Monday-to-Friday in the office’ culture is simply no longer an option for some recruits.”
“The values workshop that Donna ran for us was terrific and very worthwhile. We apply the outcomes to our daily practice and stick to those values in our comms, our marketing and in recruitment interviews.”
Glasgow-based managed cybersecurity and IT consultancy incovo provides vital support services to companies large and small. Founded over 20 years ago in 2002, its 9-strong core specialist team, led by dynamic entrepreneur Chris Thomas, helps Scottish and global firms of all shapes and sizes manage their tech needs.
In 2022, incovo acquired IT services provider, RGB Solutions. The move cemented incovo’s position as one of the leading cybersecurity and IT consultancies in Scotland, boosting the group’s turnover to over £1.5m and bolstering incovo’s presence across Scotland’s Central Belt.
The acquisition increased incovo’s need for a solid HR infrastructure with strengthened systems and processes for recruitment, onboarding, compliance, performance management and everyday team management. Before AAB People came on board, there were no formal systems in place at Incovo.
Since September 2022, AAB People have become an integral part of incovo’s team. Working closely with CEO Chris Thomas and COO James Myles, AAB reviewed every aspect of people management activity and introduced a range of features to manage current and future HR planning needs.
Formal job descriptions were created for all incovo positions ahead of a recruitment drive for two more positions in Spring 2023. But before the current recruitment process could begin, employment policies and procedures, compliance procedures, an employee handbook, onboarding procedures and a long-term HR management system were all introduced by AAB People. A maternity cover process was formed and shared too– a first-time need for incovo!
It was important to incovo not only to be recruitment-ready, but to feel more equipped to serve the employment and development needs of all the current team members and ensure that they feel listened to, supported and nurtured. An HR Mailbox was introduced to enable individuals to come to AAB People with any HR issues, challenges or information requests. AAB People work hard to understand each team member’s aspirations, offer support on any emerging issues and give all team members a voice.
The result is a strong sense of reassurance across the business, coupled with on-tap best practice advice and a reliable solid infrastructure to handle ‘all things HR’.
CEO Chris Thomas is clear about the value of having more formalised ongoing HR support in place, and always-there guidance on a ‘right’ way of doing things:
HR-wise there’s so much to think about in a growing business. Once you have the kind of help that AAB People have given us at incovo, you realise – and you’ll be surprised by – what you were missing before! If a company is serious about growth, then having an HR company like this is a must-have. I don’t think we realised just how much support we needed, especially now that we have more people since the acquisition.
“Our relationship with AAB People flows well and the team is easy to work with. They’re good at understanding the needs of our people, they get on and get things done, and they have a great human approach – it’s not a corporate feel, and that suits us. We have weekly catch-ups and there’s always plenty to cover, which proves just how much there is to be aware of and that there’s a right way to do things!”
“It’s comforting to have AAB People there to manage all things HR for us as we grow. It’s a great investment and actually it’s one we can’t afford not to make. The entire team is looked after and that’s important to me. People can stay in companies for a long time, and we only have one life, so we should look after those people. It’s good to give individuals that added touch and extra degree of empathy by listening to and responding to their needs.”
“The recruitment help is huge for us. It’s really hard to find good people in the current climate and AAB People helps us perfect the job descriptions, work with the agencies, place the adverts and review the CVs.”
“We’ve also now got a system in place now for proper performance reviews. AAB People have done the big work in designing the questions and providing the documentation. Now we’ll conduct reviews for every team member. We just couldn’t have done it before. And performance management isn’t just about pay and job descriptions; it’s about setting targets with everyone and reviewing them properly. It’s that level of performance management that gives us the real opportunity to grow the business. It’s not just about sales. It’s great performance that creates sales!”
“The legal support is important too – the contracts, the handbook, the processes for recruitment and dismissal, the ‘correct’ way of doing things. We had everyone’s holidays on an Excel spreadsheet before; now we have a proper system in place with a tool called Breathe HR.”
“All of this is essential for the owner of the business, not just the team. A lot of people believe that HR is just about keeping people happy at work. It’s about so much more than that. Working with AAB People, we’ve got to see the whole picture. It also helps us relate better to the challenges facing our own hyper-growth clients.”
Industry-leading game art designers Wardog Studios specialise in hard-surface asset development for computer games and film. Based in Edinburgh, they’ve grown from 2 to 17 staff in 18 months since their incubation within tech start-up Tank Studios. Now known widely for their outstanding weapons and vehicles concept art and design, this fast-growing team are in continuous recruitment mode.
To recruit, keep and nurture leading-edge game art concept developers in a niche sector that barely existed six years ago! Namely gifted artists, experienced in the gaming industry, who apply their outstanding eye for detail to create lifelike digital assets, specifically weapon art and vehicle development art. Before 2016, computer game consoles and PCs lacked the hi-res power and levels of graphic fidelity seen in today’s intricate game art. When this changed, the demand for hi-res 3D art design skills accelerated rapidly. By the time Wardog Studios was born, parts of the industry faced a unique recruitment challenge. The race was on to prevent recruitment issues becoming a bottleneck in the way of exciting growth.
The second challenge was finding the time and knowledge to grow and retain a talented young team on an international stage. Wardog sought not just HR and people management support, but finance and accounting business advisory support too.
“I really appreciate their genuinely human approach. Scott’s been brilliant at tailoring the programmes and tools he suggests to fit our unique needs. He also recognised that traditional recruitment processes weren’t for us and that we needed to be creative. Without any judgment or boxing us into ‘corporate’ ways, he’s helped us shape and formalise in our own way how we manage everything to do with people and performance, including how we lead the team and respond to typical SME challenges.”
JADE LAW, CO-FOUNDER & CEO, WARDOG STUDIOS
AAB People have been embedded in the set-up Wardog Studios from the outset. In 2020, Jade Law, CEO of tech start-up Tank Studios, co-founded Wardog with games artist Ohle Mathiebe as an incubator company and went on to become its CEO and quickly grow the firm. Already working with AAB People while running Tank Studios, she retained consultant Scott Baxter and colleagues to help her develop Wardog into the powerhouse it now is. Concept artists were identified and hired from all over the world in the face of such niche requirements. AAB People handles all aspects from start to finish, including setting up visa sponsorship licences for each overseas recruit AND knowing where to look more locally for talent closer to home. The 17-strong team now houses game artists from South Africa, Germany, Lithuania and France as well as the UK.
In a neat collaboration, accounting group AAB (AAB People’s parent company) also support Wardog continuously, providing financial and accounting services and monthly strategic advice. This includes not only providing management accounts, year-end compliance and technical accounting but also using current data patterns to help Wardog make the best financial decisions to achieve its desired growth. The business advisory team at AAB is expert in working with owner-managed businesses in the tech start-up space and works closely with entrepreneur Jade to boost Wardog’s growth journey.
Alongside AAB’s support in keeping all financials, projections and reporting up to date, AAB People have introduced to Wardog a bespoke, non-traditional performance management system and leadership training designed to get the best out of the ambitious young team. We also led all-important organisational culture and values work with all staff to maintain unity and focus in this unique, quirky, disruptive gaming culture.
The priority now is to help the ambitious Wardog team double in size and remain a solid, respected, comfortably different top-notch operator before they extend from game art outsourcing to incubating new game ideas and becoming a game developer in their own right.
Co-founder and CEO Jade Law feels strongly about the value of the ever-present personal and professional mentoring she receives in her collaboration with AAB People and AAB.
“Their emotional support and personal rapport as well as all the practical stuff is instrumental in helping us make sure everyone here is treated well. Staff retention is everything – it’s tough to find the talented artists we need in such a niche sector. We want to keep and grow the best, having taken the care and time to cultivate and coach talented gaming artists to apply in the first place!”
“The recruitment support has been vital to our success in what is definitely still an emerging market. Our USP is literally the quality of staff. People come to us for their game art because they can’t find the talent they need in their own organisations.
As an entrepreneur focused entirely on your field and not expert in running in a business, good mentors can be hard to find. AAB People is about so much more than HR. It’s not about robotic systems and tools, it’s all about supporting and nurturing very individual people, and helping us all be our best at work with one common aim.
In my 16 years working in the gaming industry, my experience of HR was negative before I met AAB People. People management is often secondary in this industry and HR were the people you brought in when things went wrong! Working with this team I see it from a completely new perspective. At Wardog, everyone knows and trusts Scott and is happy to see him!
The values and culture exercise was a big one for us. AAB People helped us really define our culture, formulate our values and discuss among our team what’s important for us and how we can proliferate that into how we work.”
On the financials, it’s a great, supportive relationship with AAB. Entrepreneurs are juggling so many growth and operational challenges and one person can’t do it all! Having AAB to take care of the data means I don’t have to worry about numbers or how to communicate them.
Together, AAB and AAB People have a thorough overview of our business. They understand the bigger picture and where I want to take Wardog Studios, and they help me interpret our numbers so that I can confidently project and plan in exactly the right way for our aims. Having all the HR, financial and business advisory services under one roof and embedded as part of our team is invaluable and means we can be free to do what we do best and focus on game art and nurturing the best possible talent!”
European Institute of Innovation and Technology
The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) is an EU body created by the European Union in 2008 to strengthen Europe’s ability to innovate. The EIT is an integral part of Horizon 2020, the EU’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. Within the EIT there are eight Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) – partnerships that bring together businesses, research centres and universities, each focusing on a different societal challenge.
EIT needed impartial, independent and objective expertise to review their existing HR policies across six KICs. A thorough evaluation was needed on the existence and completeness of policies relating to recruitment, remuneration, employment practices, workplace diversity, equality, training and career development.
As a registered expert in the expert database of the European Commission, Lisa Thomson was selected and appointed to undertake the project.
Lisa conducted a comprehensive review and gap analysis of the existing HR setup, strategies and toolkits in place within each of the KICs subsidiary organisations across Europe.
A detailed report and extensive recommendations were provided to improve and align the existing policies and practice in line with the EIT’s guiding principles of transparency, diversity & inclusion and good governance.
The report and recommendation provided served as a reference for implementing a clear HR strategy, thus enabling EIT to set up effective and fit for purpose HR frameworks across the KICs to ensure consistency and good practice.