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Q&A: Sharon Broughton, Lucy Atherton – Make UK HR & Employment law

Make UK champions and celebrates British industry, allowing organisations to meet their objectives and goals, empowering individuals and inspiring the next generation. Can you tell us… View Article


Q&A: Sharon Broughton, Lucy Atherton – Make UK HR & Employment law

Make UK champions and celebrates British industry, allowing organisations to meet their objectives and goals, empowering individuals and inspiring the next generation.

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

Lucy – I am a Solicitor. Since qualifying over 25 years ago I have specialised in employment law. I head up a team of specialists who provide technical support and expertise to Make UK’s national team of advisers on employment law. I am also involved in representing the interests of Make UK’s member companies to Government on employment law issues. I regularly attend task force meetings and legislation related working groups. Most recently me and my team were involved in the consultation process related to the changes to the Flexible Working regime. I also write and present content and webinars regarding Employment Law changes and updates for Make UK.

Sharon -I am a Chartered member of the CIPD and have worked at a leadership and strategy level over the last 15 years. I have a strong commercial focus and an extensive knowledge of employee relations, HR strategy and change management gained working across a multitude of sectors covering retail, manufacturing, professional services, banking, defence and care.

I head up Make UKs HR & employment law commercial services, which involves both leading a team of HR professionals to deliver consultancy and training services. Alongside the strategic responsibility for the wider business of commercial budgeting, planning and execution of non-subscription based HR & employment law products and services. I regularly write and present thought leadership on all matters HR for Make UK.

What does your company do? / What is your USP?

Make UK HR & Employment law is part of the Make UK family. Make UK champions and celebrates British industry, allowing organisations to meet their objectives and goals. Our aim is to empower individuals and inspire the next generation.

Make UK HR & Employment Law have a team of over 60 Lawyers, Barristers and HR professionals who are equipped to handle any HR challenges that may arise for our clients – making us one of the largest teams of employment lawyers and HR professionals in the UK supporting over 1200 companies who employ collectively 440,000 employees.

With our in-depth knowledge of employment law, we provide tailored strategies and guidance to ensure our clients’ businesses operate smoothly and within legal boundaries.

We provide balanced, commercially focused HR and employment law advice and we pride ourselves on providing Clients with an accessible, high-quality service, personally delivered by our dedicated team.

We offer full case preparation and representation for Clients. Last year we had a 95% win rate in the employment tribunal.

Our HR and employee relations professionals give advice and support in areas from recruitment, skills and sickness absence to work organisation, change and employee engagement.  Our employee relations team offers first class expertise in handling union disputes.

We also offer a comprehensive range of CPD accredited training courses and tailored consultancy to help companies manage, protect and develop their people.

What’s special about your services and your approach? What advantage does it add?

Our advisors, consultants and trainers are experts in their field. Experienced in providing day to day and specialist advice, and consultancy to companies of all sizes. Combining the expertise of both a Law Firm with the practical experience of an HR, Leadership and Management Consultancy. We give you the in-depth support needed, with an accessible, high-quality service.

As part of our policy and representation work, we are closely involved in government consultation on employment law.  This puts us at the center of the debate on new legislation, guidance and government initiatives.

MAKE UK has many years of experience of acting as trusted business advisers to our clients. We have a reputation for partnering with our clients and collaborating closely with them.

With our unique combination of HR & Employment Law expertise, business services and government representation, no other organisation is better placed to provide the skills, knowledge and networks our clients need to thrive.

How are retailers using your systems to gain competitive advantage and what does best practice look like? Can you share a case study with us?

Specifically recognising the differing needs of the generational workforce within the retail sector, we have developed an ever-evolving suite of innovative ways to access learning and development. This includes our Micro learning products which are bitesize 2-10 minute videos that can be accessed from anywhere at any time and are ideal for the digitally savvy and time poor retail workforce. With over 100 topics to choose from these allow employers to ensure messaging is in time, relevant and memorable.

To complement this suite our IMPACT 90 management programme provides retailers with the perfect programme to suit their organisation, their line managers and their operational availability. Each session has been condensed to provide an impactful 90-minute session for leaders. This can be purchased as either a full modular training programme that is a series of 15 pre-recorded sessions, delivered by our expert trainers that can be used and repeated as often as required or as virtual classroom delivery that is run in real time. With topics such as ‘Equality diversity and Inclusion, Managing Conflict and Engaging and Motivating your Team we have considered the key challenges and step change managers in retail are required to make. This allows them to focus on making the mindset shift from peer to manager, and manager to leader and turning these newly learned insights into practical actions.

What challenges and opportunities do you see in UK retail for 2023 / What challenges are retailers facing in 2023?

As the retail landscape undergoes significant shifts propelled by technological advancements, changing consumer behaviours, and global economic trends, the role of HR leaders is also evolving.

Leadership in the fast-paced retail industry is evolving beyond traditional structures. HR leaders must embrace a dynamic and collaborative approach to meet the demands of e-commerce, data-driven decision-making, and market agility. Inclusive and transformational leadership styles are essential for navigating this dynamic landscape. HR professionals in retail should focus on cultivating innovative, adaptable, and digitally savvy leaders within their teams.

Investing in leadership training is essential to meet the demands of this evolving industry. HR leaders should design programs that enhance technical skills while also nurturing emotional intelligence, adaptability, and strategic thinking. Such training empowers retail executives to tackle complex challenges, make informed decisions, and inspire their teams in a rapidly changing environment.

In an industry prone to constant disruptions, building a resilient culture is paramount. HR leaders must foster a culture that embraces change, encourages learning from setbacks, and promotes open communication. Providing mental health support and fostering a sense of purpose among employees contributes to both satisfaction and organisational success.

The wellbeing of retail employees is increasingly recognised as crucial for organisational success. HR leaders must stay informed about trends such as work flexibility, mental health support, and work-life balance initiatives. Proactive measures to address employee wellbeing enhance productivity and job satisfaction.

Employee safety and wellbeing should be top priorities for HR leaders. Addressing workplace harassment, implementing safety protocols, providing training, and creating a culture of trust and accountability are essential.

Recruitment and retention remain significant challenges in retail. HR professionals are focusing on employer branding, competitive compensation packages, and career growth opportunities to attract and retain top talent. Understanding the needs of different generations and implementing data-driven recruitment strategies can reduce turnover rates.

As the retail landscape evolves, HR leaders are crucial in steering organizations toward success. Embracing change, investing in leadership development, prioritizing employee wellbeing, and addressing recruitment challenges are key strategies. The future of retail HR leadership lies in adaptability, innovation, and a commitment to fostering a positive workplace culture.

How will you address these challenges and turn them into successes?

Much of our work with clients is about focusing the leadership team on answering the question : what will your organisation look like in 5 years’ time. This allows HR to work strategically with the business to align the workforce needs accordingly now and in the medium and long term. In retail this is critical to maintain adequate staffing levels and ultimately excellent customer service and experience. With our leadership visioning workshops, facilitated by experienced leadership coaches, there isn’t a requirement to have all the answers. We create a collaborative environment for the senior team to set priorities and agree on the right strategies. Providing follow on support as required.

One final critical point we always work with clients to ensure ongoing success is to empower employees to have a voice. We work with them to delve into diverse perspectives, from grasping how employees perceive the business’s current position and where they envision it heading to researching how the company is perceived in the market. Too many organisations have a tendency to act rather than ask. We support and run employee surveys and focus groups, which allow the company to understand the true barometer of its employees before formal changes are made. At this point we then work with further employee representative groups to support the change implementation and agree critical success factors to measure against when reporting and communicating  ‘you said, we did’ details. We have had many successes across our client bases implementing this approach, which can be tangibly demonstrated by the results from repeat surveys and HR metrics.

What is on the horizon for you as a company?

Continuing to develop our ever-evolving suite of innovative ways to support our clients with all their HR & Employment Law needs.

To find out how Make UK can help your retail operation, click here.




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