Case Studies

Detailed below are some examples of projects we have successfully completed over the last few years.

Achieving Positive Results Through a Redundancy Process

This was a larger Company that had a well established internal HR Department but, as part of a national concern, was undergoing a restructure where many functions of the business were being centralised. We were invited to support the business through the 2 stage individual consultation process.The Company was also keen to provide support beyond this and so we also provided workshops on CV writing, interview skills and making the use of online job boards to help employees affected find alternative work as quickly as possible.

Key challenges

  • We were working with a range of employees in very different functions within the business – including other HR professionals.
  • There was a planned and phased implementation of the restructure and so not all employees were able to leave immediately and so morale and motivation had to be maintained in this period.
  • The workforce was very stable and so many employees affected had not had to apply for work or go through the interview process for a number of years and so this made them feel nervous and worried about the future.

As an external consultancy we were able to provide completely independent support, which the employees affected felt was a benefit as they were more open and honest during the consultation process than if a fellow co-worker had conducted these meetings. The workshops received really positive feedback from all that attended and we also provided telephone support beyond this as individuals were shortlisted for interviews and just wanted to talk through the process.

Outcomes for client

The restructure process was completed within deadlines with positive feedback and support from those involved.

The employees affected by redundancy were all successful in obtaining positions elsewhere either in the organisation or outside within their notice periods.

The business was able to maintain a positive brand and image with their workforce through what was a challenging time.

‘Sarah stepped in at short notice to help us manage a significant redundancy exercise. Which she did very effectively. I can highly recommend her.’

Effective Use of a Self-Employed Workforce

After a complimentary consultation to understand the dynamics of why and how a freelance / self-employed workforce was used we established the real concerns were having provisions for handling quality issues if and when they arose and also to clearly define the legal relationship and responsibilities of each party.

Key challenges

  • We had to challenge the Company as to whether the workers really should be employed or self employed.
  • There had been a lack of structure to previous agreements which were always verbal ‘gentlemen’s agreements’ that exposed the company to unnecessary risk, even though they had been lucky to date.
  • There was some reluctance on the part of the freelance / self-employed workers to sign agreements as they had never been provided with them in previous years.

We assisted the Company in getting some advice through our recommended Accountants to ensure their workers really did meet the IR35 requirements. Our agreements were delivered within 48 hours and we guided the Company through the issue and completion of these to ensure any possible challenges by their workers were addressed. We assisted on site with the issue of agreements and answering any of the questions posed by the workers.

Outcomes for client

The Company has all workers with clear, documented terms of engagement which has given them a much greater protection in the event of issues arising.

The process of putting together these agreements prompted a review of how they structure the terms including payments for their freelancers and self-employed workers which in turn has reduced administrations costs and time by an estimated day per month.

‘As a small business we were concerned that trying to get formal agreements would be a complex and expensive exercise and so had always put this off.

Quest were recommended to us and after a free review and many phone calls with a variety of questions, which they handled very patiently, we had received exactly what we needed and we had the help and support of the team at Quest right through the process.

This was so simple and cost effective I wished we had done this months ago’

Implementing an Effective Recruitment Process

We detailed comprehensive job descriptions for the roles required. A recommendation of the recruitment method was presented to the Directors which considered how best to advertise, where to advertise and whether agencies were used. We drafted the job advertisement and briefed this to our recommended recruitment agencies, for which we have preferential rates. We compiled competency based interview questions and scoring. We completed first stage interviews and shortlisted for 2nd interviews with the Directors. Upon job offer we drafted the offer letters and contracts and also provided feedback to all unsuccessful applicants.

Key challenges

  • The Company was limited with time and resource but had an urgency for the 3 positions due to growth.
  • We had to balance the cost of using a full agency service v’s advertising only in view of the limited resource.
  • A shortlist to 2nd interview needed to be presented and so had to ensure we had a thorough understanding of the roles and business to represent the company completely through the first stage of interviews.

We were able to completely take the burden away from the Company by handling all aspects of the recruitment process, keeping them updated throughout the process. As a HR business, we have preferential rates with agencies we work with so we were able to provide value and an excellent standard of service. The structured process allowed us to effectively shortlist and present candidates to the Directors for their final decision.

Outcomes for client

All roles were successfully recruited for.

The cost saving of using our agency partners was over £4000.

Our resources provided additional cover in the absence of their Departmental Manager.

‘We needed an extra pair of hands to help quickly recruit for 3 vacancies where getting the right person was essential. As a business we were able to focus on developing through our period of growth and felt confident in leaving Sarah to act on our behalf. We were pleased with the new recruits and the savings we secured from using the recommended providers Sarah suggested’

Managing Poor Performance in Managers

As a small company the business was run and owned by a single Director and they were experiencing issues with the Manager in the business failing to perform. We initially advised and reviewed the fact as no formal processes had been started to address these issues. Based on the Company’s disciplinary policy we were able to establish this was a case of misconduct and not capability as there was a neglect for the completion of their duties. The Director did not feel comfortable handling this alone and so we prepared the correct invitation to attend a disciplinary hearing along with evidence and supported the Director throughout the meeting, taking accurate notes on their behalf also. We assisted in writing a clear performance improvement plan and documented the standards required through a more comprehensive job description. Unfortunately, the employee failed to make any improvements and so we assisted in moving through the stages of disciplinary ultimately to a dismissal. Throughout the whole process we provided advice and guidance on a step by step basis and drafted all invitation and outcome letters to ensure a fair and consistent approach was taken.

Key challenges

  • As a small business there was no infrastructure to deal with meetings and appeals with anyone other than the Director.
  • The Director was passionate about his business and felt frustrated at the poor performance and the fact the process did take time.
  • The employee had no acknowledgement of his failure to perform and so this proved challenging in the meetings to gain his commitment to improve.

We were able to be the sounding board for the Director to share their frustrations and be able to provide a plan of action so they felt this was moving forward. Our advice on making this disciplinary process relevant for the specific business gave the Director confidence we understood his business well. Throughout we gave the support to help the Director remain in control of the process and reach a fair and reasonable conclusion.

Outcomes for client

They managed the situation effectively, which although this did lead to a dismissal, was a positive outcome for the business.

As a result the requirement for a Manager was reviewed and a cost saving of £10000 per annum saved by recruiting a more junior resource which has proved to be far more effective for the business.

‘I did feel impatient and frustrated with the poor performance of someone that was trusted and senior in my business and as a small company this was disruptive and costly. Sarah listened to my frustrations and remained calm when I didn’t and talked me through the process and came to the meetings with me to ensure these were handled correctly for all involved. I really do appreciate the help and support through this whole process’

Gaining Health & Safety Accreditations

This client was a scaffolding company who already had a health and safety provider when they employed our services. However, their provider at the time was telephone based, so the company never actually saw a consultant. The owner was looking to grow the business and wanted a robust health and safety system in order to gain accreditations. Initially, the client wanted to achieve CHAS accreditation as this was a requirement to tender for local council contracts. Later, they needed to add Constructionline accreditation for similar reasons.

Key Challenges

  • We had to be highly flexible in order to tailor our service to suit the client’s needs.
  • In order to secure the accreditation with minimal disruption to the client, we oversaw the application and submission of the relevant documents.

We began by carrying out our free health and safety review, identifying areas where improvements could be made and offering recommendations to make those improvements. For the accreditation, we used some of their original documentation and complemented them with additional new evidence that we created to ensure the requirements were met for the accreditation.

Outcomes for Client

As a result of working with Quest, the client gained a recognised safety accreditation with minimum effort on their part, giving potential customers another reason to choose them over competitors. The client also now has access to ongoing assistance, advice and support from Quest.

'We couldn't have done without Quest's help in this process, we needed accreditations to progress in our business and he got the job done painlessly. We would highly reccomend Steve.'

Effectively Replacing a Retiring In-House H&S Officer

This was a manufacturing based business with a health and safety consultant who was retiring. Due to the high-risk nature of manufacturing businesses, it was important that the business was not left without any health and safety provisions, and so employed our services. The business was also looking to expand their premises due to extra machinery arriving. The business had a full safety manual, but they wanted to be sure that it was adequate for their requirements during the expansion and beyond.

Key Challenges:

  • The risk assessments in place were inadequate and lacked obvious risks and necessary controls, putting workers at risk.
  • The owners were unsure of the frequency of statutory equipment checks and inexperienced in carrying out risk assessments.

We began by carrying out a free safety review which highlighted areas where staff were at serious risk on a daily basis. We also offered various options by which we could help the business, eventually settling on a twice yearly visit to ensure health and safety standards are being met. Finally, we delivered hands on training to the company’s management on how to carry out effective risk assessments in terms that were easy to understand.

Outcomes for Client

As a result, the client can now be confident that they have met their legal obligations and that they can better manage the risks in their workplace. The staff employed by the company are now safer and appreciate that the company respects their safety. The chance of an incident occurring is now significantly lower, which will ensure that production runs smoothly and deadlines are met.

Most importantly, the company now has access to ongoing assistance and advice from Quest, eliminating the need to recruit a new health and safety consultant.

'Steve's help during our health & safety consultant's retirement was invaluable. We actually came out with better health and safety than we began with, plus Steve's ongoing support. I would highly reccomend him.'

Getting an Appraisal System Right

We implemented a monthly performance review structure, appraisal system and introduced a skills & development guide to help focus on staff retention.

Key challenges

  • There were no structured job descriptions in place for all roles in the business and so we had to identify firstly what was expected for each role in the business.
  • None of the Management team had experience in delivering appraisals or using a structured system.

Our initial consultation focussed on the outcomes – what did this company want to achieve as a result of having more structure to the review and appraisal process. By identifying this we developed a system that the Managers and staff bought into. We also trained all the Managers on how to use the system on a practical level and gave guidance as the first reviews were completed.

Outcomes for client

Performance issues are being identified and positively addressed much earlier which is improving productivity and efficiency.

Managers have received development by learning the system and increased their skills in being able to use this proactively.

There are now detailed job descriptions, clear KPIs and a benchmark to measure performance across the business.

‘Our appraisal training with Quest Consulting Services was extremely beneficial. I am new to a management position but even long standing managers from other departments in the company found the session really interesting and helpful. Sarah offered clear and concise advice about appraisal practices and considerations. I am looking forward to putting her suggested structure into place for my team and start reaping the rewards from it for both myself and for my team members.’

Handling Complex Grievances

We were engaged to fully investigate the grievance and to follow through with any relevant disciplinary action as a result of the findings.

Key challenges

  • This was a business which operated with shift patterns and possible witnesses worked across different shifts.
  • There was a reluctance from potential witnesses to come forward during the investigation.
  • There were language barriers as the Company employed a very diverse workforce.

We engaged the services of a translator to assist in gathering accurate witness statements which was invaluable. We provided an impartial, professional and diplomatic approach to the investigation stage to reassure all involved. The Company received thorough records of a comprehensive investigation and detailed minutes for the grievance meetings. We provided clear and concise recommendations which ensured that the Company took all reasonable steps to resolve the issues and take fair and consistent action in addressing this. As there was the need to take disciplinary action as a result of the grievance outcome we were able to provide support during this process which allowed the presentation of very clear evidence to support what was a case for Gross Misconduct and subsequently a dismissal from the business. No appeal or further action was taken as the disciplinary case was comprehensive with clear evidence to support the outcome.

Outcomes for client

The Company was happy that an independent investigation supported the employee raising the grievance and those involved in the investigation more effectively.

The grievance was handled by professionals with experience which addresses a gap in skills and experience of the Management within the business.

As we have a team at Quest we were able to provide a different Consultant to handle the disciplinary so there posed no conflict of interest from the investigator of the grievance.

The message delivered to all employees was that this type of behaviour would not be tolerated in the business and so no further incidents have been seen.

With a diverse workforce this has helped build moral and motivation.

‘When faced with a difficult situation that we did not have the experience or expertise to handle, the involvement of Sarah and her team was invaluable. We felt reassured that the correct procedures were being followed to be fair to all parties and we were satisfied that the outcome and subsequent action was appropriate based on the evidence expertly gathered. Without the assistance of Quest Consulting Services I feel sure we may have made mistakes unintentionally, in what was a complex complaint.’

Testimonials

Northern Accountants

Sarah and the team at Quest have provided us HR support since January 2013.

Quest Consulting Services provided us with a comprehensive employment structure with contacts and a handbook and have been on hand to help me deal with the occasional issue I have faced with team members through their telephone support service.

As our personal Consultant, Sarah provides a quality, professional and complete service which is great value for money.

Northern Accountants

10 Associates

Why would anybody NOT have Sarah working 'alongside' their business?

I've known Sarah for many years and she's always been there for me and the business when her wealth of knowledge has been called upon.

We have used Sarah and her team to handle our contracts, handbook and Health & Safety and they are readily available on the telephone when needed or on site at our premises.

Highly recommended.

10 Associates

Fisher Financial Management Ltd

As a busy owner of an expanding Financial Services company, we recently took on our first employee and wanted to make sure everything was done properly and so we enlisted the expertise of Quest Consulting Services to help draw up the necessary contract of employment.

Sarah, our Consultant, made the whole process straight forward and the costs reasonable to ensure both the company and the employee were fully protected.

I would not hesitate to recommend Quest Consulting Services to any colleagues or business clients.

Fisher Financial Management Ltd

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