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Katey Howard

I have worked in HR for around twenty years, in different sectors and geographies. Over the years I have had the opportunity to work with some fantastic people that have helped me to grow, and I hope to create the same opportunities for my colleagues. In March 2021 I joined pladis to lead the HR team for pladis UK & Ireland. We are part of pladis global, custodians of some of the world’s best loved snacking brands such as McVities, Jacobs and Carrs. Although we are a relatively young company, we possess hundreds of years of heritage within our brands. We are a team of over 4,000 colleagues across the region.

“We have to demonstrate agility to meet the challenges of the new workplace.”



Introduce yourself and tell us about your organisation  

I have worked in HR for around twenty years, in different sectors and geographies.  Over the years I have had the opportunity to work with some fantastic people that have helped me to grow, and I hope to create the same opportunities for my colleagues.

In March 2021 I joined pladis to lead the HR team for pladis UK & Ireland.  We are part of pladis global, custodians of  some of the world’s best loved snacking brands such as McVities, Jacobs and Carrs.  Although we are a relatively young company, we possess hundreds of years of heritage within our brands.  We are a team of over 4,000 colleagues across the region.



What do you think defines an organisation as a top employer today?  

I believe the key to being a Top Employer is having the curiosity and motivation to continue getting better. In a world that is becoming increasingly challenging and agile, it is essential to continue evolving to meet the needs of our employees and to enable our goals.

The pandemic has led to a fundamental shift in people’s expectations.  We see more movement as people re-evaluate what is important to them, and I believe top employers will be those that can engage their teams in a shared purpose.

Participating in Top Employers has provided us with a great way of connecting with leaders in our field, and of engaging our employees in the journey.  In other words, it’s an opportunity to celebrate what we have achieved whilst staying focused on where we need to improve.



Tell us about a recent initiative that you have instigated within your organization that you are most proud of?  

During the last 18 months we have had significant progress in our Inclusion & Diversity journey.  An Employee Resource Group, BeingMe, was established and grew rapidly – currently there are over 300 members.   This group has played an important role in educating, engaging and celebrating diversity across our organization.  During 2021 the group evolved to support specific groups such as gender, LGBTQI+, disability and race.  It facilitated really powerful conversations across our business.

There is a strong leadership commitment to diversity in pladis.  We have reviewed policies across our region to support employees through different situations in life.  In 2021 we were one of the first companies to launch a domestic abuse policy – addressing the taboo and creating a support network to help those who need it. 



What is the next objective in your organisation's journey to keep improving the employee experience?  

We need to keep building our capability to help drive forward our mission to create an ever better employee experience.

The role of the manager is crucial here, particularly in daily interactions and processes like career conversations.  Managers play a disproportionate role in the experience of their team, but often struggle to provide the direction and support needed.  I believe that investing in managers – and recognizing the importance of their role – is essential.

We are also introducing initiatives that create a different experience for our colleagues, such as our campaign for Dignity at Work that reinforces the importance of how we treat each other at work.  Our aim is to create the right conversations to build awareness on the importance of dignity at work.  Every employee has a role to play in creating a positive employee experience.



What is the biggest challenge facing your organization today and how are you planning to overcome it?  

We are conscious that these are challenging times across many sectors, and food manufacturing is no exception to that. This places a lot of strain on the organization and our employees, and so we need to provide the right support for employees to feel supported, inspired and fulfilled.

That means that our HR processes need to be simple and efficient; we need to be completely focused on what really matters and recognise where we need to get better.

It also requires us to actively listen to what our employees need – what matters to them, and how we can work together on a common purpose.  



How will your organization have to adapt to meet the changing future workplace?  

We have to demonstrate agility to meet the challenges of the new workplace. Therefore we must address changing employee needs, to listen and then take action. We need to show humility and empathy at all levels of the organization.

Top Employer provides us with an opportunity to stop, reflect and then redirect to ensure we meet these needs.  I believe this partnership will help us to continue to grow in the right direction.



 

This interviewee was kindly introduced to us by ‘Top Employers Institute’ – the global authority on certifying excellence in employee conditions.’ Their organisation is certified as a Top Employer.

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