Welcome to the third in our series of interviews with experts on:
Making better business decisions for a better world.

We are producing a series of articles to cover aspects a business owner should consider when reviewing their processes and operational functions for a better world, with a focus on corporate responsibility and reputation management in areas of sustainability, the natural world and local communities.

Today we hear from Victoria Chidgey from Atoll HR 

What are some of the biggest challenges your industry faces in improving its impact on the natural world?
The biggest challenge is on the people resource. With working patterns of individuals looking different from twenty years ago, due to stresses on individuals with aged parents, young families, split families, changing demographics, varying job demands and differing customer markets, the stress on individuals in managing their mental health is proving to be the number one priority for businesses.

How are you seeing businesses, within the HR industry, look at the wider picture when aligning their operational functions to the ethics and values they may have for a positive impact on the wider world?
Values are a huge aspect of what we do and we try to encourage businesses to centre all their business activity around their core values and what is important to them. This should feed into their fundamental beliefs as a group of leaders and drive how they would like their business to be structured in the wider world. These values can be built into all core processes such as onboarding, performance management, leadership and operational management.

Sustainability is a word used a lot at the moment, thinking about the people and businesses you work with, how do you see sustainability being fully understood, and resulting in genuinely putting process in place to be a more ‘sustainable’ business?
The biggest commodity in business is people. As quickly as people can aspire, develop and progress under good conditions, with the wrong climate and conditions they can deplete, underperform and become weak. Sustainability of people is our priority and we work tirelessly with leaders to understand how to get the best out of this valuable resource. With simple initiatives such as job sharing, flexible working, creative benefits packages, employee assistance programmes, succession planning and development initiatives, sustaining the people within the workforce is achievable.

In your experience, what are the main challenges businesses face when it comes to reviewing their strategies for engaging with and improving their impact on their local community?
The main challenges, particularly for smaller businesses are ensuring they can remain profitable. There has been a huge shift in businesses moving from dormant community players to now showing an interest in supporting the local community, driving initiatives and becoming more active in this regard. However, for small businesses, the lack of resource and money is key to enable this to happen fully.

Which businesses or influencers do you feel are doing a great job at reputation management and in presenting the ethics and values of their business – in a genuine and authentic way?
It’s a partnership between the Human Resources function and the leaders within the business. The HR team has a vital role to play in working with the leaders to understand, listen to employee feedback and drive the key values and ethics of the business. Holding each other accountable to ensure values are at the forefront is key. Many firms pay lip service to the core values simply displaying them on a website or splashing key words and values around the business. But it has to rest with the leadership team and the HR function should work like the pulse of the business, ensuring the values at the heart of everything.

With so much misinformation out there, which information sources do you feel are reliable and trustworthy for gathering facts, that you can then use to make the right decisions for your business?
Experts in the relevant field are so important to discuss key facts. Liaising with someone who lives and breathes the topic on a regular basis is much more important than surfing the internet and obtaining a snippet that fits the moment. Having a wide network of people who are regarded highly in their chosen field is key. This network should understand the culture that you operate in and advise accordingly.

Atoll HR, based near Bristol, work in partnership with business leaders to understand their culture and tailor their services to the business’ specific ways of working. Atoll HR build lasting personal partnerships that will grow and thrive with the business of their clients, with communication, openness, people and ethics being their key values. Find out more on HR services for a new generation of business on their website here

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