Engineering a better talent pipeline with Libertine through strategic HR

People Puzzles helped this pioneering, Sheffield-based renewable energy company develop its employer brand and internal systems to not only attract but hold onto talented engineers in a challenging job market.

When the success of your company depends on attracting highly specialised and technically qualified people, it’s important to have a great employer value proposition. This will not only attract the best people into the business, but also encourage them to stay and develop their career with you.

A great employer brand is what Libertine was seeking when it first contacted People Puzzles. Since 2009, the company had found success developing linear generator technology to meet the rising global need for clean and affordable power. In December 2021, the Group listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM).

Despite this success, the leaders were finding it difficult to recruit and retain high-calibre engineers needed to secure future growth. This is what expert People Director Julia Langton has helped the business achieve since she first started working with them in March 2022. In the past year, the business has increased its headcount by c.50% – including specialist engineers, a build technician, project manager and finance manager. Not only that but staff attrition has reduced; now, more people want to stay and develop their career at Libertine

How was this turnaround achieved?

Improving staff engagement and creating a great employer brand does not happen overnight and usually requires a fundamental rethinking of business structures and processes. While the journey continues for this small business, Julia attributes part of Libertine’s success to the evolution of a number of significant processes and ways of working, including: 

  1. Leadership team realignment 

While Julia helped the leaders develop the HR roadmap to complement the business strategy, it became clear that the leadership team needed re-aligning in order to move forward. This meant difficult decisions about the organisational structure had to be made, including a senior manager moving out of the business. Julia then helped the leadership team improve its dynamics by changing the structure and content of their regular meetings to increase collaboration and communication.

2. Career development and salary structure 

Julia then turned her attention to the business’s employees. A simple but effective performance development review process was introduced, with coaching and mentoring to help develop a high-performance culture. She then oversaw the introduction of a new salary structure for engineers, along with a career development roadmap within Libertine so that both new and current employees could see a career pathway for themselves.

3. Staff benefits and effective people processes 

As part of the review of the employee benefits Libertine offered their employees, and the creation of a benefits roadmap (for the future), Julia introduced a new benefit broker to enhance the offering to employees while keeping costs in check. She also brought in an efficient digital holiday/absence/ whereabouts application to replace the spreadsheets that were currently being used. Important people processes, such as recruitment and onboarding, were also reviewed and improved to get Libertine fit for future growth.

4. Increased employee communication 

Julia planned and facilitated a successful first all-employee off-site day in 2022, which was a catalyst for improving communication (especially at a more business strategy sharing level), involvement and engagement toward creating a high performing team culture.

The event has since been supplemented with regular informal conversations with each employee to keep an ear to the ground and help managers understand how engaged their direct reports are, as well as continuing to keep the business strategy foremost in people’s minds.

More recently, after proactively engaging with employees via an employee engagement survey, Julia was able to gauge how they felt about the business and their place in it and formulate a plan to act on the findings. As not everyone appeared to be clear on the longer-term business aims, Julia is currently in the process of helping the leadership team to create a single page summary that can easily be communicated, capturing the important company behaviours and values. The latter will start to be defined inclusively, at the next employee off-site day.

Getting future fit through strategic HR

Julia is very impressed with the way the team have responded to the changes.For a small business, Libertine has fully embraced strategic HR,” she says. “There are actions that demonstrate recognition of the employees being key to Libertine’s success and the importance of ensuring that the right people are on the bus and in the right seats.” 

Chief Financial Officer, Gareth Hague, is also delighted with the progress made. “Both myself and Sam (the CEO) have been really pleased with the experience and knowledge that Julia has been able to bring to Libertine, particularly with her past experiences of relatively small new tech businesses. She has put foundations in place and developed Libertine on the people side in a multitude of ways, primarily in challenging, facilitating, coaching and executing the HR roadmap she determined with us to be ready for future growth.”

If you’d like to attract and hold onto a skilled team, evolving your employer brand and realigning your internal systems could be the way forward. To find out more about how we help your business to drive change and deliver growth, call 0345 646 5201 or email [email protected] for a chat.

People Director, Julia Langton
People Director, Julia Langton

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