Bunzl HRD: Getting buy-in for new HR programs

The HR head details how her team secured and expanded their tech-driven employee experi-ence strategy

Bunzl HRD: Getting buy-in for new HR programs

Jennifer Tiffin, HR director at Bunzl APAC counts having a lean HR team as a critical reason why they’ve successfully managed to get buy-ins for HR-related programs.

This meant that they’ve had to ensure that they go through all the stages carefully — from finding the right program for the company’s needs, to developing a business case, and monitoring and measuring ROI once it’s implemented.

“To put things in perspective for about 1100 employees, the HR team is five,” Tiffin said. “We have very limited resources and we have to [implement programs] ourselves… we didn’t have the IT team support.

“We also need to do it in a staged approach, so that we can make sure each stage was successful before we moved on to the next.”

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Prove ROI to get continuous support
Sharing a case study on delivering personalised employee experiences, Tiffin explained how they made dollars and sense of a recent HR tech investment to secure continued support from the finance team.

Firstly, she defined employee experience “everything an employee encounters, feels and observes” from the moment they join the company.

Bunzl has been using HR tech to transform and drive employee experience, and it’s managed to bring down their voluntary turnover bundle from 24% about two years ago, down to 11%.

“If we look at the cost of turnover being approximately six to seven months and employee salary, we’ve reduced our turnover by approximately 100 positions in every salary of $85,000,” she said. “That’s [savings of] an indirect cost to our business in turnover of $5.3 million.”

Besides turnover rates, she also detailed other areas that’s proven ROI of the new tech program, including talent attraction with the help of employee referrals, as well as the increase of internal promotions — all of which have led to direct or indirect cost-savings to the company.

They’ve also reduced one headcount in the HR team, which has led to further direct savings of over $123,000.

“Overall our investment in tech, including the depreciation of the capital assets around $90,000 a year, we’ve delivered direct savings of approximately $205,000 a year after the investments are deducted,” she said.

“Here’s the biggie: Indirect savings of $5.3 million. So what finance director is not going to want to support you investing in HR tech when you can deliver those savings to your organisation?”

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Find opportunities to build a case
Of course before you can get to the stage of showing returns, getting the initial buy-in is always the toughest part.

Investments on new HR programs, especially technology-run programs are very costly. Tiffin shared that she managed leadership pushback for her initial proposals by building and presenting a real-life application case.

“I think initially the pushback was, ’how are you going to pay for this?’” she said.

Her first successful investment was for a recruitment and onboarding module. Someone on her team had just resigned, so she turned it into an opportunity to demonstrate how much time and cost-savings would be made with the new program.

“Before diving in and replacing that position I used that opportunity to get my first investment in and to actually get the recruitment onboarding module launched,” she said.

“Once I had that, I didn’t have to sell further on other benefits that are sometimes difficult to demonstrate to a finance team or an MD — [for instance] the cost to hire and the indirect cost of turnover.”

From there, “the results spoke for themselves” and her team was able to gain momentum and show that they were able to fill positions faster, thereby improving their sales and business bottomline.

“The momentum grew and then the next stage of investment was much easier,” she said.

“So we’ve actually done it as a three-phase process. Stage one started with recruitment and onboarding. We delivered the results, and added on the learning platform. Six months later, added on the performance module.

“I’m lucky that I’ve come from an environment where cost decisions or fair decisions had to be justified so I had the case prepared.”

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