UHR Awards 2020 Winners

Category: Exceptional HR - our 'Team of the Year' category


WINNERS: Keele University

The transformation of Keele University’s Human Resources directorate, over a period of two years, from January 2018, has seen the team develop into a truly strategically aligned and progressive team who have made an immediate and sustained impact on the institution’s business effectiveness and organisational performance. With a dual focus on operational excellence and strategic delivery, adopting a “better and bolder” approach to service delivery, the team have demonstrated excellence across a range of objectives including reduction of recurrent pay costs, advancement of the EDI agenda and improvements to the staff experience through a new and exciting approaches to staff engagements. Key learnings emerging from this transformation can be summarised as: 

This transformation and the achievements that have been delivered as a result should be considered in Keele’s particular context: we are a relatively small team of HR generalists who have, in the recent past, had a low profile in the institution and the sector. The tremendous progress we have made may be dwarfed by larger teams in more successful institutions as measured by financial performance, but we believe we have made great strides, and this viewed is shared by many in our institution.   


RUNNERS UP: Staffordshire University

Staffordshire University recognises that people are key to its success. The direction of travel that the HR&OD team have taken has had a transformative influence on the leaders and managers. One major development has been the introduction of talent identification and mapping to help inform workforce development at a strategic level. This tool and the development work that followed is having real and tangible benefits including a change in the behaviours of their leaders and how they approach succession planning and identifying development opportunities. A change to the way their engagement survey results are disseminated has led to more meaningful information from staff, as well as ensuring that staff have been listened to by senior managers. This rich data will also inform their Cultural Improvement Programme commencing in 2020. The real focus to this team’s success is their ability to provide an all-encompassing view of their workforce made up of the softer elements such as development and talent, as well as the hard data provided through effective data capture and real-time reporting. All of this is aligned with the University’s strategic direction, ensuring that the work of the HR&OD team has a direct impact on the University strategy and ultimately, its success. 


Shortlisted Nominee: University of Lincoln

The University of Lincoln HR Team have worked collaboratively over the last 12 months to deliver a number of key projects that have aligned to the strategic aims and embodies the “Dynamic engaged people” strategy. The pieces of work have required the team to work together to ensure that the combination of skill sets allowed for successful change management. Areas to highlight have included supporting the long term financial planning of the University by transitioning new members of staff to a defined contribution pension arrangement whilst ensuring that financial education and relevant alternative saving vehicles are launched to ensure they are able to make informed decisions going forward. In addition, the team have designed and launched “Linc-On” as a one stop innovative desktop tool that incorporates all aspects of the reward, recognition and engagement offering to ensure that the employees have constant engagement with the employee offering. Finally, the attraction and recruitment of multiple Global Professors to Lincoln will shape the agenda for both the new Medical School and research relevant to Lincolnshire going forward. The achievements demonstrate a forward-thinking HR team working collaboratively with a clear vision of supporting the organisation with achieving goals and ambitions. 


Shortlisted Nominee: Loughborough University

Loughborough University has developed an exciting People Strategy that aligns with the University’s Strategy of ‘Building Excellence’ and is representative of the ambitions of a top 10 university. The Senior Management Team (SMT) of Human Resources and Organisational Development led a highly collaborative design process which resulted in the People Strategy being approved by the University’s Senate and Council in March 2019. Since then the SMT have delivered many initiatives across the five priorities within the People Strategy aimed at enabling all colleagues to be the best version of their professional selves, working with flexibility in an agile organisation that is an employer of choice. At the heart of the People Strategy is inclusion and a culture which enables all colleagues to be successful and have equitable access to opportunity. Loughborough is on a journey that has put people central to its continued position as a top 10 university. 


Shortlisted Nominee: Northumbria University

Our University has an ambitious Vision and Strategy. We are a challenger University, transforming to #Take on Tomorrow. The HR team is proactive in recruiting and retaining the best talent, developing future leaders, supporting and driving performance, encouraging an inclusive environment with diversity as the norm and where colleagues feel valued and motivated to perform their best. We do all this while we streamline our Service focusing on the resources we have (not those we’d like or we used to have!)  




Read about all the shortlisted nominees for the UHR Awards 2020 in other categories:

Business Effectiveness and Organisational Performance

Organisational Development and Culture Change

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Exceptional HR: our ‘Team of the Year’ category