My role is quite varied, it’s very broad. In the H&S team, Sylwia has just finished her Diploma in NEBOSH and Patrycja her Certificate in NEBOSH, both are or have undertaken Leadership Training. I am the Chair of the Wellbeing Committee (which meets monthly) where we review any accidents and incidents, seeking root causes with a view of implementing new ways of working to try to reduce the level of accidents occurring in the workplace. The core principle is to ensure that all partners who arrive for work leave safely and return home to their families after their shift is complete.
The H&S team are also responsible for risk management within the business, so that’s about any new machinery that comes in, to make sure that Risk Assessments and standard procedures are covered. COVID has had a massive impact on the team – having to change and alter a lot of processes and risk management in order for us to remain open. We also cover things like operating procedures, the legals, training matrices, First Aid, and fire wardens to name but a few. They are also heavily involved with Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs), as well as the Partnership Council (PC) and other projects like healthy eating, charity, translation, and the Common Language Project. They’ve got quite a wide remit!
In terms of the HR function, we’re here to ensure there is fairness and consistency across the business primarily. We’re also there to support managers, and this is ‘work in progress’ to make sure that we support and not do the work for them. We cover things like absence management, which includes occupational health referrals. The whole of the Welfare team are trained as Mental Health First Aiders, including myself. We’ve been heavily used over the last year due to partners' home life affecting their welfare, much of it impacted by COVID. We also cover things like case management, that’s your disciplinaries and grievances – to make sure that we have no disparities across the sites.
We’re also are custodians of the partner handbook: we create and change policies depending on legal updates and feedback via the PC from partners. A recent example of policy change was the Bereavement and Compassionate Leave Policy – that came as an aspiration from Joanne (Brogan) and the PC, which then was discussed. We widened the remit of the Compassionate Leave, so it’s more open to partners, it’s not segmenting people by the relationship they have with individuals, and that linked with the Cultural Group, which I’m also part of. Through the Cultural Group, it was agreed across the ‘Group’ to adopt the new policy. The next one that we’ll be looking at is the Maternity and Paternity Policy.
We’re also here to ensure that we remain legal in terms of the employment law, which is an ever evolving, changing scene and always will be, and when you’re dealing with employment law, you’re dealing with shades of grey, which makes it problematic, but also challenging.
We also cover payroll, pensions, benefits, things like death in service, and the Cycle to Work scheme. We deal with recruitment, from agency all the way through to senior roles. We’ve just completed the recruitment for Simon Fowler, the new Chair of the Aquascot Board, which involved the PC and Leadership Team working effectively together. We’ve altered our recruitment to make it more inclusive, to have as many opinions and voices involved, especially for key roles. We’ve got resource issues, as we know, with Brexit and COVID, so that is ongoing and we need to get better about how we bring people into the business, which will require a different mindset in terms of reaching out to school leavers, modern apprenticeships. job share, and increased part-time working.
I also deal with learning and development, at a strategic level. So we’re not talking about specific things for mandatory departments – but wider, for example the current Leadership Training programme, to support the PC with bespoke programmes, to professional qualifications, apprentices, and coaching. I specifically wish to mention coaching because we’re trying to move to a coaching culture, which is going to take some years. We’re heavily investing in people, and we will continue to do so. That’s one of the reasons why we won the SCDI Awards for People Development, which is a testimony to not only me but all the departments and the Leadership Team.
What else? R&R, Reward and Recognition. This is to make sure partners’ contributions are recognised across the whole of the site. Stacey and I have a role to play to make sure there is fairness and trust within that relationship, so we sit in all of the R&R meetings.
I’m also part of the Aquascot Trust Cultural Group, which is led by John (Housego), the PC and the Group Directors. I am accountable for the Aquascot Cultural journey in terms of capturing all our current and future activities over the next 5 years, which involves some informed guess work.
I’m also accountable for the 'Group' – we work as the Group HR function across Bay Foods, Shore and IHCT. Investment Holding Company of the Trust (IHCT Ltd) was formed to lead the diversification strategy of Aquascot, and has the responsibility for all new businesses, two of which are the start-ups New Wave Foods, creators of the Shore brand seaweed business, and Bay Foods, a provider of high quality frozen meals and puddings under the brands of Highland Bay, The Scottish Food Company and The Highland Cookhouse.
A lot of my team are involved with an awful lot of work outside of the normal HR remit too. Joanne is leading the Charity Group, which they are all a part of; Patrycja and Deborah sit on the Partnership Council and the Great EO Strategy Group; Stacey played a major part in the Microsoft 365 roll out, and she’s also looking at a new payroll system in time and attendance. Patrycja and Sylwia are responsible for translation tasks, and of course the induction work.