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Attract, inspire and keep the very best

Human Resources and Operational Development are crucial to any successful council, school or other public service. But our consultants do more than help you employ the right talent. They’re geniuses at creating vibrant, productive workplaces. Devising structures and initiatives that help people thrive.

This is in no small part due to the wealth and variety of experience at one source. As one of the UK’s leading public sector shared service arrangements, we aren’t just about HR and OD: we also deliver Asset Management, Finance, Legal & Governance, Payroll, ICT, Enforcement and Health & Safety services – so we really know what makes all your people tick.

Whether you’re after a better policy, need a new employee wellbeing programme, or plan to transform an entire function: we bring proven strategies, innovative ideas and practical expertise. However, we firmly believe it’s the strong relationship with you – your leaders, managers and employees at all levels – that ensures we can help you reach your goals.

On the surface, the savings we help our partner councils deliver are impressive. But it’s the individual effects that count most – that engaged new hire, the course that leads to a senior role, a team’s new home working solution, all crucial benefits everyone mentions when people ask why they stay.

We can help you improve every aspect of life within your workplace. End result? Better services for the people you employ – and the people they support.

  • HR business partnering

    We’re not just people experts. We’re public service people experts. Our experience of council services means we can give you unique insights as we develop HR strategies and programmes together. We understand how your people think, and can quickly marry your goals and culture to the best solution.

  • Change management

    Whether because of growth, new objectives, technology, legislation or something else entirely: it’s your people who most feel the impact of any change. We can help with strategy, (re)designing process, employee engagement and communications. And we can ensure the changes you make are not only successful – but sustainable.

  • Learning and development

    We offer L&D support at all levels – from grads to c-suite – right along the employee lifecycle: developing and running onboarding sessions, soft skills classes, specialist training events, and more. For us, the employee is key – and our understanding of their ambitions and the way the learn underpins the way we deliver.

  • HR policies

    From employee handbooks to health and safety measures do more than protect you legally. They’re the outline of your culture, and your ‘how to’ guide to a successful career. As well as developing individual policies or procedures; we can lead audits that ensure everything’s in place, up-to-date – and understood by all.

  • Wellbeing and engagement

    There’s a clear link between employee wellbeing and engagement. As you’d expect, we advise on things that keep your people happy, healthy and motivated – benefits packages, workplace design, social activities and the like. However, we can also look more holistically at your working practices: delivering stress management training, for example, or upgrading your home working systems.

  • Operational HR

    Our experience with other partners gives us an edge. We add value to recruitment activities; legal expertise to complaints, disciplinaries and tribunals; and efficiency to payroll and admin processes like leave, maternity and notice requests. Our independent investigations team can also give you objective assessments of any grievance or misconduct.

  • Talent programmes

    Our reputation for nurturing talent grows every year. As well as feeder initiatives like work experiences, shadowing and internships, we can create structured paths for any area: our CIPFA graduate schemes have produced large numbers of qualified accountants, and our Talent Hub is helping councils maximise Apprenticeship Levies.

  • Workplace investigations and training

    Our highly experienced team delivers professional, and wholly independent, workplace investigation and related training services to public bodies. From service reviews, through to disciplinary investigations, right up to sensitive and complex grievances; we aim, where possible, to complete investigations within a target window of twenty working days, helping you make informed decisions fast.

  • London Collaboration Contracts

    A quick, simple and highly competitive recruitment and selection service. Working with our roster of fully vetted specialist personnel agencies, we’ll find you people with the talent, ambition and skills you need. Whilst also saving partners an average of 24% on direct award fees.

Case studies

Our expertise stretches across all the facets of HR. Here are some of the highlights, but please do get in touch if you’d like to discuss any services in particular – every challenge is unique and calls for an equally unique solution.

Apprenticeships Talent Hub

Our Talent Hub helps Havering and Newham councils maximise the Apprenticeships Levy by identifying skills gaps, improving diversity and creating more effective programmes.

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Case Study
Apprenticeships Talent Hub

Our Talent Hub helps Havering and Newham councils maximise the Apprenticeships Levy by identifying skills gaps, improving diversity and creating more effective programmes.

Any organisation whose annual salary bill tops £3m has to pay the 0.5% Apprenticeships Levy. The money is then topped up by government and put into a fund for employers to invest in apprentices’ training over the next 24 months.

Any funds that aren’t spent over those two years are reclaimed by HMRC. So it’s vital that Havering and Newham Councils get the most for the £1m+ they put in their funds each year. Our solution? A Talent Hub that maximises their apprenticeship schemes’ reach and impact.

A dedicated central team

In practice, the team behind the Talent Hub work with line managers and training providers to create programmes that fill skills gaps at each Council – not just for more junior roles, but higher and degree-level apprenticeships.

They make sure the door’s open to everyone – internal and external applicants from all backgrounds, including care leavers and young people living in poverty. And finally, they oversee the programme, ensuring the apprentices get the high-quality learning to excel.

A conveyor belt of success stories

The first Talent Hub-led programmes recruited five degree-level Social Workers for Havering and Newham. They’re all now in hard-to-fill permanent roles, and studying towards their Level 6 Social Worker Apprenticeship.

More recently, the team helped four people already at Havering start Building Control degree apprenticeships, and a further five people – two existing and three new hires – join the Level 7 Chartered Town Planner Apprenticeship, a particularly tough area to recruit for. And in terms of softer skills, six Newham managers are taking the Emerging Leaders programme run by SOLACE – experts in public sector senior leadership.

Put together, the future’s looking very bright for Newham and Havering’s apprenticeships. The Talent Hub is a unique solution that’s making great strides in not only ensuring the Levy is good value for money for both Councils – but delivering the right people, with the right skills.

Helping Newham use wellbeing to fight COVID

The once-in-a-generation challenge of COVID-19 has shone a light on the importance of employee wellbeing. Our measures ensured everyone at Newham had the support they needed and deserved.

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Case Study
Helping Newham use wellbeing to fight COVID

The once-in-a-generation challenge of COVID-19 has shone a light on the importance of employee wellbeing. Our measures ensured everyone at Newham had the support they needed and deserved.

Our holistic wellbeing programme had been a core part of our portfolio of services for a few years. As well as our own initiatives, it was built on best practices developed by organisations as diverse as: NHS and Public Health organisations, Deloitte and our own Health Champions Network.

Importantly, we looked at the issue from every angle – we built awareness, turned understanding into action, and provided support and flexibility. We laid the path for a wellbeing journey.


As the pandemic evolved, we didn’t need to read the endless newspaper articles to know the people in our care would likely need the programme in greater numbers. We saw how stressful it was navigating through such uncertain times: fatigue, fear, the repetitiveness of Zoom call after Zoom call, and the gap between logging off and logging on feeling shorter by the day.

So, rather than reacting as events progressed, we set about learning how we could help Newham’s people through the crisis.

Responding at speed

Our first act was to set up a Wellbeing Subgroup of our most respected professionals. They looked at Newham’s wellbeing services, and what people would need during the pandemic – and highlighted the gaps.

Throughout, the team was mindful of the practicalities. Was a solution worthwhile? Is it being delivered in the right from? Would it be useful for people working from home, on critical frontline services, continuing in their normal place of work and those needing to shield?

A comprehensive approach

Naturally, mental health support was a key priority. We created the Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA) support network, made up of employees who could be ‘booked’ for 30-minute private chats. We also added extra layers to the existing Employee Assistance Programme, including Group Resilience – helping entire families – and Bereavement Support.

All the details were on the intranet, and we drip fed communications, so everyone knew there was help if they needed it.

As time went on, specific services got in touch for advice. One conversation led to our ‘Wellbeing Conversations – A conversation worth having’ training module for Newham’s Children Social Work managers.

And taking a step further, we went on to work with CMT and psychologist and restorative wellbeing specialists to create our ‘Time to Talk’ initiative, where internal volunteers support colleagues by making the time to sit down with them and have honest wellbeing conversations.

Elsewhere, we delivered targeted sessions for Hub Managers feeling the strain of having such a responsibility for their community. We created and ran wellbeing other audience-specific workshops in person and over Zoom – sometimes for hundreds of people at a time, at other times for small leadership teams.

Keeping things normal

The annual staff survey in June 2020 was the perfect opportunity for us to understand how people were coping, what support was working, and what services were still perhaps missing.

One thing became abundantly clear: people needed hope. Everyone took great pride in supporting councils, communities and residents. But they needed to know there was a long-term plan, and that there were still things to celebrate.

This tied in well with our work on the Council’s staff benefits site, which also launched that June. While it was held virtually, Newham’s staff awards were also a roaring success. And to prove the new normal was a lot like the old normal, we brought to life an initiative we floated in 2019 – a cross-Council Wellbeing Week, with events ranging from Dealing with Stress and Anxiety in Difficult Times, to Let’s Talk About Menopause.

Building wellbeing that lasts

One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that organisations with innovative and creative HR &OD teams have created stronger bonds with their people.

With a detailed and targeted approach to wellbeing, we ramped up Newham’s wellbeing strategy to deliver good value, cost-effective initiatives in trying circumstances. And these initiatives are going further than simply solving practical symptoms of any issues.

They’re giving people the opportunity to have real conversations about topics that used to be taboo, such as mental health. They’re helping us connect virtually and metaphorically more than ever. And they’re strengthening people’s resilience and agility – to everyone’s benefit.

We have some of the most innovative and respected public sector shared services in the UK.

Your challenges are unique – but our experience makes us the perfect people to find the perfect solution. What’s more: we only work with the public sector. We share your passion for the communities you serve.