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NAME

Denise Bird-Newell,
HR Director,

Looking back at your time with the company (Clarins), what are you most proud of?

There are quite a few things I am extremely proud of, but, if I had to pick one, I think it would be introducing a transparent reward strategy with the primary aim of attracting, retaining and motivating employees. Centralising rewards under HR’s remit was agreed by the leadership team, and now it is the norm for all managers to work with HR on the annual salary review, salaries for new hires and internal promotion increases. It is this partnership that I am proud of.

The ultimate goal was to create consistency, transparency and a ‘feels fair’ principle. The underpinning principles were to align organisational values and goals, engage and grow talent, reward performance and personal contribution. Differentiation was also a key factor as one size does not fit all when it comes to performance-related rewards.

There were two phases to the project. Phase one included creating a robust internal grade hierarchy to promote internal equity and comparing external relativity by benchmarking pay. Next was to set our position on pay, review pay parity and determine the impact on the budget.

Phase two focused on creating a consistent benefits platform by grade. This was always going to be a long-term strategy as like with most organisations, aligning pay and benefits takes budget planning over a few years to achieve pay parity and reach the desired goals.

 

What is the most exciting project you’re working on over the next 12 months?

The most exciting project from an HR perspective has to be the implementation of a new Human Resource Information System (HRIS). I know first-hand from previous experience the difference a good HRIS can make to the business. When the energy is in the right place and changes from investing time trying to collate information that is often out of date by the time it is complete, to having the information at the touch of the button and seeing the energy shift into driving prescriptive analytics that inform decision-making, this is when you see HR driving added value.

 

What do you hope to achieve at Clarins in the future?

My aim is to continue to drive digitalisation so that HR has the tools and systems in place that allows it to do what it does best: partner the business proactively on the people agenda. Having a system that facilitates the hire to retire cycle will allow more time for education and transferring knowledge to develop confident people managers.

What is your guiding philosophy for HR?

HR has a truly unique position in the organisation. It has to balance the needs of the business as well as the needs of the employees. This can sometimes be a challenge. My guiding philosophy is always to remain impartial. HR is often the department that has to hold up the mirror and show the reflection, sometimes the reflection can be ugly. The skill of HR is not in translating the black and white of the law, it is navigating the grey. This is why, for me, the courage to challenge, being personally credible and a skilled influencer are three of the important behaviours set out in the CIPD professional map.


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