HR Experts Give Back to East Anglia’s SMEs
15/10/2019 - Petaurum Local
“The small businesses of today are the mediums of tomorrow.” This idea is something Mark and Adam from Petaurum Local are firm believers of, which is why the HR experts are making sure small to medium enterprises (SMEs) across East Anglia have the support they need, as and when they want it.
East Anglia is an area in which Petaurum Local are established and increasing their profile in, with the idea of putting something back into the area through straightforward HR advice. “It would be wrong to think that East Anglia, as a rural area is all about farming,” says director Mark. “East Anglia has a broad and diverse set of businesses, from the technology parks through to the Port of Felixstowe and is a great asset to the UK.”
They have the belief that good people management doesn’t have to be complicated or costly. Done right, it can save you time and significantly improve the commitment, loyalty and motivation of your people, which ultimately drives the success and profitability of your business.
“One thing we love about what we do is how we can make people feel, affecting not just their work life but their whole life,” explains Mark. With both Mark and Adam coming from a corporate background and now specialising with SMEs, over time they have seen how important it is to be honest and fair with employees. Mark works by a 3 areas of fairness approach:
Talk to employees how you’d want to be spoken to. Are you speaking to them in the right way?
Is the process fair? Are you doing what you said you’d do? In challenging and changing HR times, people shortcut and treat others differently
Make people understand; they might not agree with the outcome, such as redundancy, but it’s important they understand why the decisions were made
Seeing a business turn a corner and achieve what they set out to do is also what Mark loves about Petaurum Local. Many business owners fear HR for being legal and complicated when actually, it’s about common sense and having the right conversations. “This is why we have straight-forward HR at the centre of our proposition,” says Mark.
Being the critical friend to SME owners makes a difference; by building trust with clients, Mark and Adam can give advice that SME owners/directors can use to improve their business performance and wellbeing of employees.
“Before going into a project, I can see shining stars who just need a bit of exposure to show what they can do. I remember when I was working on a strategy with a Essex County Fire & Rescue Service. One firefighter told me that he was ‘just a firefighter.’
“In that moment, I told him he was far more than that, that he was intelligent and articulate. By the time I left, he was acting leading firefighter, working with chief fire officer on their business planning and strategies and was working alongside Sir Ken Knight, the then Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser for England.
“All I did was give him the confidence to achieve what he could do and help him realise his potential. By giving people the confidence and opportunity to prove themselves, through our work we’re able to leave people in a better place than when we found them.”
Growing up in rural Surrey, Mark has been living in East Anglia for 14 years. From an early age, he preferred the countryside and even though he has worked all over the country, East Anglia is the place he loves to come back to.
He started his working life doing a 5-year engineering apprenticeship before moving to BT. Whilst there, he progressed through the company and has since worked in the public, private and third sector. During this time, he has seen change from a perspective look at both people and organisation.
“It showed me how change affects people on an individual basis and how some people can embrace change, some are fearful of change and the social impact of change.”
Fast-forward to 2001 when Mark met Adam. “Wherever I went, Adam seemed to be there. I’m sure he was following me around!” Through their common HR passion, they realised how difficult it was to find people to understand HR from a business perspective. This led to the decision to set up their own business, deciding to change the landscape of the HR process.
That was 6 years ago and now Petaurum Local are moving from large scale corporate HR to local, small-to-medium enterprises. Originally the business was focused on corporate, owing to Mark and Adams’ backgrounds, networks and contacts. They have been involved with some large-scale companies, including the Post Office, ECFRS and Spire Healthcare. With the Post Office and another well-known high street brand, Mark led on the implementation of payroll systems. This is down to his knowledge of how to set the outcomes of changing the system and the practical skills and experience of change. Both systems were delivered on time and have achieved from day one.
In this way, of helping SMEs, they’re looking to offer information and tips in order to be self-sufficient. “With the internet, it’s easy to collaborate and share good practice and collateral and that’s the reason for us joining SuffolkWire, to share so people can be self-sufficient. We want to offer advice on the fundamentals so start-up small businesses can reduce risk and understand how to look after their people… it’s a win, win.”
We have seen many small businesses who succeed and growth rapidly, then come across problem after problem with their people. “Based on a real-life client of ours, who downloaded an employment contract from the internet, we can see how quickly things can go wrong, and that’s where we help out.”
“We can provide all manner of personnel management support for SMEs. One of the greatest business-related lessons I’ve learned is that although there are similarities in what we do, every business is different.”
He goes on to explain how at Petaurum Local, they have to be agile and pragmatic in the way they provide their service. This is due to some organisations just want advice, others to do everything, and they need to be flexible enough to cater for that.
So what next?
“Part of setting up Petaurum Local was for me to work locally. I want to put something back into East Anglia as it’s given me great pleasure and enjoyment. One of the ways in which we’re doing that is by helping sponsor Framlington Town Football Club youth section as it’s my local club and where my son and I play an active role on the pitch. We want to be a trusted partner for East Anglia businesses, who can come to us for straight-forward advice and support, to help not only employee performance but their business as a whole.”
Mark concludes: “We want to understand what makes a business unique, and tick. Sometimes the issue that we’ve been asked to address isn’t the cause. For us, it’s getting businesses to realise that investing in their people, and a robust people plan linked to their business plan, will drive better performance. If you ignore things and wait until something happens, it’s cost time, effort and money and potentially damage employee relationship and business performance.
“Other providers, wait for you to have a problem, sort it out then stand back. We want to get ahead of the game – who’s starting the fire, not just putting the fire out as and when. We bring a local proposition we have a whole host of networks that we can help East Anglia, to connect people through.”
For more information visit the Petaurum Local website.
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