ActionAid – finding value for employees
Graham Salisbury is head of HR at ActionAid.
International development agency ActionAid UK has 180 employees in the UK, mainly based in central London. They are supported by a team of five including two HR business partners.
A major challenge facing the organisation is staff turnover, which stands at 30%. It is taking a number of steps to address this, explains head of HR Graham Salisbury.
“We have recently undertaken a major review of our reward framework to ensure that we have a sustainable yet attractive salary structure, supported by a range of non-financial reward mechanisms,” he says.
This has included a programme of internal communications to highlight the benefits available to staff, and implementing ActionAid in Action – a scheme which each year enables four employees who wouldn’t normally travel to visit an operational programme overseas.
The organisation has also launched an apprenticeship programme. “We’re collaborating with Plan UK and Christian Aid in this initiative as we all believe in providing a wide range of pathways into employment in the international development sector,” explains Salisbury. “It’s not always easy for those without university qualifications to gain entry, so we hope this will be a positive initiative.”
ActionAid has also committed to paying the London Living Wage to new apprentices and is aiming to employ people who live in the area close to its London head office. “We want to have a positive effect on the lives of people living in poverty, including the lowest-paid Londoners, not just those in developing countries. We take our responsibilities as an ethical employer very seriously,” he says.
According to Salisbury, ActionAid has gone through significant organisational change over the past few years, and while the HR team has not been exempt from this, the past 12 months in particular have seen investment in the development of the HR team to ensure that there is the internal capability to support business challenges.
“We’ve rolled out a comprehensive programme of employee development modules covering areas such as influencing and presentation skills, and managing difficult conversations,” he says. The company also launched a management development scheme and is focusing on developing coaching skills among all line managers. A priority for 2014 is identifying people in critical positions and ensuring that succession and development plans are in place for them.
To help potential candidates see the full range of career development opportunities available, ActionAid has added employee profiles to its website. “We are very proud of what our employees do, so we’ve allowed them to tell their own stories (from a secondment in Israel and occupied Palestinian territories to the role of interim head of policy in London). These demonstrate what a position at ActionAid mightmean,” adds Salisbury.
On attracting the next generation of talent, Salisbury highlights the need to respond to the changing profile of those entering employment, and consider whether the traditional pathways into organisations are still valid for the 21st century.