Human Resources consultant Julie Leach shares her business journey with us and offers her expert advice for business owners during COVID-19
What do you do as an HR consultant?
I offer outsourced HR & Training services to small to medium sized business who see the value in having these skills within their business but don’t need someone employed permanently to do this. Some of my clients have around 10 employees, others have over 70 and I work with them to deliver a bespoke service that suits what they need. I’ve run my business for 3 years now.
What did you do before you set up on your own?
After graduating with a 2:1 in Business Studies, specialising in HR, I realised that I wanted to follow a career in that field. I feel really good about being able to follow me dream and make it a reality. During my career I’ve worked over 15 years within global financial services so I bring that corporate experience to my clients. I lived and worked in Hong Kong for a few years whilst working for one of the financial services firms and appreciate the opportunity I had to experience of working across different cultures. I took a career break for three years when my children were very young. My son is now twelve years old son and my daughter is ten.
What are the key services you offer?
Producing comprehensive contracts of employment, employee handbooks and robust polices are often the starting point and once they are in place we can move on to other services. These can then include assisting with recruitment and induction if the business is growing or restructuring and downsizing if headcount needs to be reduced, followed by outplacement. I also help with disciplinary situations where employees are underperforming or behaving inappropriately. On the more positive side I really enjoy working with clients to help them manage their employee’s performance so everyone feels motivated to achieve more and employee engagement is improved.
I also have a training side to the business where I run bespoke workshops for clients on topics such as time management, effective teamwork, customer service, enhanced communication skills, great presentation skills for management and leadership. I also weave 1:1 coaching into some of the longer modular courses I run.
I also listen a lot and very often people – business owners, managers and employees, simply want someone to talk to that they can trust.
What advice would you give to business owners at this difficult time?
I really think that looking after your employees is crucial at the moment, people must come first. The current situation will be impacting everybody in different ways, both physically and from a mental well-being point of view. Ongoing communication, honesty, compassion and consistency in how you treat your employees is key.
In addition, as we move very slowly towards ‘a return to work’, managing the risk and ensuring the workplace is safe is critical so use the Health & Safety Executive website for specific guidance.
Finally, this comes back to people again, everyone is different. Everyone will be dealing with this situation in their own way and will have been impacted in a different way. For some, they will be able to work effectively from home, in a comfortable environment, on full pay spending more time with their families than normal. Others will be isolated, suffering from high anxiety, may have lost income, may have been very ill or lost loved ones to the virus. As a business owner, a leader or manager, remember that everyone is an individual and that no one answer or solution will suit everyone.
If someone wants to improve their HR what should they start with?
I believe that the foundation to good HR management starts with comprehensive documentation which should include high quality contracts of employment, an employee handbook and a selection of polices that support your employees and your business. Once these are in place, a business can start to focus on elements that will continue to add value such as a performance management framework, a reward strategy and a robust recruitment and selection process.
What makes your business different to others offering similar services?
As my business is still relatively small, I have the ability to be flexible, adapt and respond to the changes in the market. Our current situation is a good example; I need to understand the Governments response to the coronavirus, very quickly become familiar with the legislation and then translate that into meaningful advice that my clients can use quickly. I also think my customer service is exceptional, my clients mean the world to me and I’ll always be there for them when they need me.
What do you enjoy doing when when you’re not working?
I have three passions; baking, dancing and football! I love making cakes and have passed that on to my daughter who often joins me in the kitchen to help, she is surprisingly competent herself even when I’m not there to help. To balance the cake making and eating I attend Zumba classes 2-3 times a week. Given that we are still in lockdown at the moment, these are online classes with the instructor who used to teach at my gym. Finally, football, my husband’s family are all dedicated football fans and that got me hooked shortly after I met him. I love the focus that it gives to so many people, the passion people have for it, the loyalty it creates and it is usually a good topic to discuss when networking. Both our children play to a very high standard and my daughter is part of a premier league academy.
Website – https://www.julieleachassociates.co.uk/
Instagram – @julieleachassociates
LinkedIn – Julie Leach