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Meet Lucy Fitzgerald – HR Consultancy supports employers through COVID-19 challenges

Today we have selected Lucy Fitzgerald to take her interview. She is the Managing Director of Fitzgeraldhr.

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

Thankfully, we’re doing well and looking forward to the future. Despite the challenges of the last 18 months, our team has grown considerably in the last year, and we’re expanding into new locations in the South West. We’re especially excited to get together as a team for our end-of-year party in a few weeks, having worked remotely over the last 18 months.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?

I was an HR leader for several organizations before channeling my knowledge and experience into becoming an HR Consultant in 2008. I recognized that small to mid-sized organizations without internal HR and HR teams within larger companies needed flexible, hands-on, commercial HR solutions. As a result, I set up Fitzgerald HR. Since then, the company has developed into an exceptional team of experienced HR Consultants, with a network of local offices in Devon, Somerset, East Sussex, Essex, and London.

How does your company innovate?

Our growth as a business comes from our ability to adapt our services to each client’s needs and requirements. Since the beginning, we have delivered a truly customized HR service for every client we work with. Everything we do, from the services we provide to the relationships we build, is influenced by our aim to deliver Human Resources with the human touch. This allows us to adapt our service to suit our clients’ needs and keep up with the frequent changes to employment law.

How has the Coronavirus pandemic affected your business, and how are you coping?

Our team has adapted to working remotely because of the pandemic, and we are now adopting a hybrid approach as we begin to meet clients face to face. Our services were in high demand over the pandemic as our clients required immediate support to keep up with the unprecedented situation and the rapid changes it presented.

Beyond the everyday HR requirements, employers also needed to find ways to communicate with remote teams, understand and utilize government schemes, manage sickness absence and carry out redundancy processes. Our HR Consultants team was on hand to support employers in navigating all of these changes.

Did you have to make difficult choices and the lessons learned?

Our clients were faced with making extremely difficult choices over the pandemic. Our job was to provide them with the necessary guidance and information they needed to feel confident to make these decisions. In addition to supporting our clients with their unique circumstances, we also ran regular HR Talk webinars to discuss key changes to regulations and government schemes.

It was clear to us from the beginning that employers needed to communicate clearly with employees. To support our clients, we provided a range of templates, including a homeworking policy, coronavirus policies, furlough agreements, and hands-on advice and support to ensure employers could follow processes correctly even in the pandemic.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

We were aware that communication would be key to ensuring our team remained engaged and could continue to work effectively. As a result, we invested in our communication software and technology to operate as a remote team and remain connected. We continue to review and update the processes were needed to suit our new ways of working. Several tools enabled us to maintain communication as a team.

For example, we use Trainual to share key company information such as policies and procedures, news and resources with our team. Having an easily accessible, central location for key information has been invaluable for us as a remote team, especially when onboarding new staff members. In addition, we have been using Microsoft Teams to meet virtually once every day to stay connected as a team and to also engage with our clients in the absence of face-to-face meetings.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Employers often compare us to the large, call center-style HR providers that provide, predominantly, an employment law advisory service. However, it is impossible to compare our service with that solution. Our clients choose us because of our deep knowledge of the full spectrum of HR solutions, as well as the relationships we build.

Many employers need more than an advice line; they need someone to handle their HR for them. We fully understand our client’s culture, business plans, and goals when providing advice and solutions. We focus on their business needs, from resourcing and talent planning to restructuring and employee exits.

Your final thoughts

The past 18 months have presented unique challenges for employers to navigate and have changed how we operate. Organizations are now transitioning back to ‘business as usual, but we have made huge progress towards normalizing more flexible working models. We’re seeing many employers opt for a hybrid working approach instead of a full-time return to the office.

If employers need support with any aspect of navigating their post-pandemic HR needs, please do not hesitate to contact our team on 0330 223 5253 or office@fitzgeraldhr.co.uk.

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