Written for and by Volkswagen Group UK
The system behind the success: HR Toolkit and AW Repair Group
Andrew Walsh explains how HR toolkit helps grow his own talent, and keep him out of court
What’s your first thought when someone mentions HR (human resources)? Chances are you think about hiring, firing or promoting someone. For smaller businesses – such as most bodyshops – getting HR processes right doesn’t just give you the chance to run your business within the safety net of the law, it means you keep only the best staff and build a company culture to be proud of.
AW Repair Group’s network of Midlands-based bodyshops, AW Accident Repair Centres, uses HR Toolkit to support its HR team when it comes to disciplinary procedures, appraisals, recruitment and even creating an employee handbook.
Using HR Toolkit’s online legal information, customisable forms and 24/7 legal advice helpline costs AW just £290 per year per branch, and is available for the same price to all Volkswagen Group-approved bodyshops.
And managing director Andrew Walsh (pictured) is certain he gets his money’s worth.
“Employment law is changing so fast, there’s no way that busy bodyshop managers are going to have time to keep up. Employing nearly 100 people it’s inevitable that we’re going to have staff issues and will have to act straight away.”
Phone a friend
Andrew and his team make full use of the toolkit’s telephone advice helpline. Over the years of addressing disputes, his first bit of advice is: “Get advice straight away. Find out what you should be doing, because you need to make sure you’re acting properly straight away. There are way of doing things and a wrong step early on can affect an outcome.”Since AW Repair Group launched its first purpose-built bodyshop in 2000, it has expanded into Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire, and relocated its first branch to become an aluminium-approved prestige centre in Sleaford, Lincolnshire.
Because of this expansion, Andrew has decided to create a company handbook – a bible of the company’s rules that all staff must agree to. “Compass, the team that runs HR Toolkit, has been helping us with our handbook, and their regular email updates have kept our legal knowledge up to date as we create it.”
In the firing line
It’s clear Andrew doesn’t shy away from keeping only the best people in his team. “If someone is not being an effective part of the team then give your manager the power to call the advice line as soon as they have any problems.
“It’s crucial to do the disciplinary process right and one step at a time. You have to be impartial – I bring in a manager from another branch – and hold hearings with the right to appeal directed to me. But because of the process, the evidence and the time you must give yourself to consider the situation, sometimes the disciplinary procedure has been a positive process.”
From disciplinary to top employee
One of AW’s team members was put through this disciplinary process after repeated verbal warnings, but it didn’t quite work out as expected. It gave the member of staff the motivation to completely overhaul his working attitude.
In Andrew’s words: “We thought we had reached the end of the line with him, but he was a good person and that shone through in the disciplinary procedure. Both the company and the individual discovered a lot about each other, and we decided to keep him on the team. In fact the process we put him through has turned him into a star AW employee.”
If you don’t use HR Toolkit, Andrew has some advice.
“We’ve used the HR Toolkit regularly, even when we know we are taking the right track, for that added reassurance. The best thing I can say is that we’ve not been threatened with legal action, we’ve had no repercussions from our HR decisions and we’ve not been to court.”