This month our ongoing series of 5 minute discussions with HR leaders features Faye Mclean, Head of People at Eve Sleep. We talk about how Faye found her way into HR, how to deal with growth challenges in a fast paced business and how you can measure success of talent strategy.
What is your HR background?
I fell into HR. A friend said I would be good at it. I asked why? The answer was ‘you like people, understand them and listen’. Oh okay. I’ll give it a go. I started off in the corporate world of a Japanese Bank, 15 years(ish) ago and realised after a year and half that this wasn’t where I could do me.
Then walked through the doors of Capital Radio as an HR Advisor, looking after the whole employee life cycle. Capital really did confirm the environment I needed to be in so I could do me.
I continued in Media for some years and found a natural love for recruitment and finding talent. Then the world of fashion entered my life and I spent 6 years working within this industry and becoming curious and passionate about e-com. Finding talent, building an employer brand, engagement along with developing and growing people was where I found great passion in HR.
Since then I’ve developed and grown into a confident HR leader knowing what motivates and drives me and where I need support and most recently experienced the FMCG world.
I never thought it would of gone from dresses to dog food to sleep. They all have one thing in common; my genuine passion and interest for the brand. That’s the most important thing for me then the roles follow.
What does your Head of People role at Eve entail?
I create and lead the strategy for the people agenda which feeds into our overarching mission of ‘unlocking the power of sleep wellness’. Once created we execute. Doing the right things at the right time in the right way and working closely with James our CEO and the rest of the leadership team.
What’s your HR philosophy?
Behaviour breeds behaviour. Treat your people like adults not children. Trust and respect them and you will have engaged and productive people who care about what they do and others. It’s less about what you do, and more about how you do it.
What is the best piece of career advise you have got to date in your career?
No idea is a bad idea. It’s cliche but I hear so many people hold back on an idea because they don’t think they can make it happen or it’s too ‘out there’.
Think different. Lead with Conviction. Believe in what you do.
What’s the biggest difference you’ve made to your culture so far?
Slowly but surely things are changing and people are starting to see and understand the why it’s happening.
It’s not 100% there yet but confident it will be in the next couple of months.
To expand we’ve recently introduced variable hours and it’s interesting to see not everyone has adapted to this new way of working.
Those who are using it feel guilty when they leave early even though they may of started at 7.30am. These are the most important people who need to lead from the front and create change. I can only do as much as I can do though those who are engaged can join the journey with me and others will follow.
What are the challenges of working in a high growth business like Eve?
It’s a young company in an over saturated market (every week there seems to be another company pop out of the box!). It’s about having a clear USP and ours is unlocking the power of sleep wellness.
As we are smaller than other businesses out there budgets are small so I have to get super creative on what we can offer in terms of benefits and learning so people feel invested in. Luckily I like that. I love a business that evolves quickly and opens change, it keeps you on your toes.
How do you ensure HR has a voice at the table with the leadership team?
True leaders understand a marketing campaign or warehouse move doesn’t magically happen and the people in your team play the lead role in making it happen! People forgot this sometimes. That’s why People needs are always kept top of the agenda.
In our leadership meetings we make sure our agendas have a hour 1 and hour 2. Every month we plan the discussion for each hour based on our operational roadmap, it’s keep People on the agenda and I have my own slotted time to showcase the Roadmap and connect what it happening in the business with people and their engagement.
Through trial and error I have learnt to gain engagement. You need to gain attraction and buy in with stakeholder before bringing anything into the ‘room’ for the first time. Understand your audience. Engage them so they understand the people impact and it’s not all fluff there is a purpose behind it.
As the first Head of People at Eve, what has been your approach in building your People approach?
Working with others. I can coach and guide people but it has to come from the wider business or they don’t engage. Lots of influencing and guiding people in the right direction to understand what we are trying to achieving and bring them on board.
How do you ensure you balance the strategy and operational elements in such a fast based business such as Eve?
It’s hard I won’t lie. It’s easy to get stuck in the ‘do’ especially when you have a tiny team.
Though strong OKRs really do ground you along with a clear People Road map to keep you on track (most of the time).
How will you measure the success of your strategy?
HR is not always tangible so you need to find something that gives you the numbers to backs-up people’s feelings and thoughts.
We use Peakon as our engagement survey and it goes out every month. I like the frequency, you keep your finger on the pulse and confirms where the pinch points are or areas that could become a concern.
It keeps it at the forefront of our peoples mind as well and we always remind people that their voice counts and change can’t take place unless we know.
Our overall engagement score is a reflection of the impact of the People Strategy, the higher it gets the more we know what we set out to do when it comes to people! Since May 19 we have increased this by 0.7 and this is a reflection of the impact our new ways of working. There’s still a lot to do though.
We now can translate our engagement score into actual cost and look at the affect this has on turnover, retention, direct v agency hires.
High Engagement of our people helps build our EVP.
For someone who is stepping into a Head of People role for the first time, what 3 pieces of advice would you give them?
1. Believe in yourself and know your worth. You know your stuff – the why, what and how. You’ve been doing it long enough – don’t let people make you second guess yourself.
2. Network. Network.Network. Go to talks, conferences, speak to similar HR profession, read Linkedin articles, read books. Share ideas. Super important. Especially when you haven’t got many people around you who aren’t from the world of HR in the company. It helps keep your ideas and initiatives fresh and moving forward with the times.
3. Connect with people in the business quickly. Set up 1:1s with everyone (easier when it’s a smaller business I know) even if they are only for 10/15 mins. It really does help get under the skin of a business especially if you have joined after a difficult time and morale is super low.
Can I have four?
4. Find those who are different from you. Find strengths in others to help you do what you need to do.