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Gold Stevie Award Winner 2021, Click to Enter The 2022 StevieĀ® Awards for Great Employers

Name of Organization/Company: British Sugar Plc, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom
Category: Human Resources Team of the Year – Other

Entry Title: People Team - Putting people at the heart of a substantial turnaround

 

BACKGROUND

British Sugar is the sole processor of the UK’s beet sugar crop and the leading producer of sugar for the British and Irish food/beverage markets. Operating at four advanced manufacturing plants, we employ around 1,250 people across the UK.

In October-2017 British Sugar entered a new era when the market was deregulated – marking the end of EU quotas in the sugar market. This change gave the sugar industry an opportunity to grow, but bumper crops across Europe accompanied by a newly competitive marketplace, led to challenges around profitability and engagement.

THE HR TEAM

Back then the ‘People Team’ was 22 people, lacking direction and demoralised with high turnover.

In 2018 British Sugar embarked on a journey to transform the whole business to suit this new deregulated world and drive its ambition to be ‘Fit for the Future’.

People Director, Catherine Taylor, was hired and led the formation of a new People Team, the team being nominated (the nomination also includes British Sugar’s small, dynamic Communications Team)

This is the story of how this team developed and implemented an equally people-focused and business-aligned people strategy. A strategy which has transformed the operation and contributed to a dramatic change in fortunes for British Sugar.

As explained, our story started in 2017, and here we’re reflecting on the People and Comms Team’s achievements over the past year. Since the beginning of 2020, these include (amongst many):

LAUNCHED A NEW PEOPLE STRATEGY

Signed-off by the board in May-2020 after six months of development, the people strategy was thoroughly aligned to the needs of:

•People: Achieved through successful listening.

•The business: Positioned at the heart of our top-level ‘Fit for the Future’ strategy.

CO-CREATED/LAUNCHED A NEW LEADERSHIP MODEL AND ASSOCIATED TRAINING

Designed to support culture change, our Leadership Model aims to improve leadership capability at all levels and improve overall performance. To date, 229/271 managers have participated.

ESTABLISHED A ROBUST PERFORMANCE REVIEW PROCESS

Our people told us that we could substantially improve on how feedback is given on performance, how we develop people to their full potential, and how we communicate down the line.

So, we brought together a working group of our high potentials across the business to review processes, gain insight from external companies and co-create a performance review process that works for all.

INTRODUCED A COMPREHENSIVE RECOGNITION PROGRAM

Introduced to reinforce great behaviour in line with the Leadership Model and values, our new recognition programme is proving to be popular with 63% active app users.

INTRODUCED DRAMATICALLY IMPROVED INTERNAL COMMS AND TECHNOLOGY

Here, it’s all about empowering our people and putting in place a culture of feedback, so we introduced many new ways of communicating and collaboration/online platforms. Consequently, ratings related to ‘communication’ improved by 6%.

WHY THESE ACHIEVEMENTS WERE SO SIGNIFICANT FOR BRITISH SUGAR

The change in culture and customer focus was literally mission-critical, and the Managing Director personally gives the strategy and People Team substantial credit for the turnaround.

EMPLOYEE ACHIEVEMENTS

By listening, and making it clear people were being listened to, we ensured they came along. Consequently, our latest employee survey shows that people now understand strategy and priorities (c.80%), know what they’re accountable for (80%) and feel trusted to deliver (74%).

Furthermore:

•C.80% of the workforce engaged with collaboration platforms like the Workplace social platform (77% engaging monthly), People Hub (54% logins since March-2021 launch) and the recognition platform (63% engagement). For a previously siloed manufacturing-focused organization, this is huge.

•Voluntary workforce turnover has halved (fell dramatically before pandemic and continued during pandemic).

•Employee engagement is up from 68% to 72%.

The company is now a great employer:

•5-point uplift in the likelihood of recommending us as an employer.

•Applicants per position doubling from 21.6 to 56.5.

BUSINESS PERFORMANCE ACHIEVEMENTS

With the support and engagement of the workforce, the business has gone from not being at all ‘fit for purpose’ to extremely fit – customer-focused – and profitable.

As a result, our Managing Director commented “…thanks to our People Team… we are winning and retaining business that we wouldn't otherwise have won.”

Appendices:
https://vo-general.s3.amazonaws.com/a1ab4161-9c30-4e28-88fc-d6ad384e3fe2/98c8e122-6749-40b1-83da-4f0bbe47201d?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ4PRWO26HAX3IOCA&Expires=1720393504&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3D%22British%20Sugar%20-%20E10%20Human%20Resources%20Team%20of%20the%20Year%20-%20Supporting%20document.pdf%22&response-content-type=application%2Fpdf&Signature=wjg0SmkbNgwQYUkcvjLT%2Bpcd3VE%3D

APPENDIX 1:
Here you’ll find more information about British Sugar 120-year history as well as an overview on how decades of a regulated market had shaped our culture, and therefore gain more insights into the uphill battle we were facing regarding a shift in culture.
APPENDIX 2: The new People Team.
APPENDICES 3 to 7:
Evidence related to our key achievements since the beginning of 2020.
Appendix 3: Our People strategy and priorities
Appendix 4: Leadership model
Appendix 5: Our people performance review process
Appendix 6: Recognition program
Appendix 7: A step change in our internal communications
•Our new Workplace portal, enabling cross-site comms and allowing people to provide feedback as well as bringing to life personal stories through groups.
•Virtual monthly MD briefing and team briefings: now business wide.
•Monthly live virtual Q&As with Board members.
•Communications Champions supporting comms capability in their sites, teams and Workplace.
•People Hub: a major achievement as technology at British Sugar was very behind before. People are logging in and feedback has been fantastic.

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