HR News and Updates

Dawson Kaveney HR celebrates 15th anniversary

An image of Helen Dawson and Sue Kaveney

Dawson Kaveney HR celebrates its 15th anniversary today!

Whilst we celebrated our first year of trading under the new name recently, the roots of the business can be traced back to 2008, when it was originally founded by Sue Kaveney as Kaveney HR Solutions.

In 2022, Helen Dawson took over the business and has since led the company to new heights, working closely with both existing and new clients. Helen's professional and friendly approach to delivering HR support has helped the company extend its reach throughout Cumbria and beyond.

Sue and Helen have been good friends for many years and continue to work together on occasion, when the opportunity arises. Helen expressed her appreciation for Sue's support, saying, "Since taking over the business, Sue has supported me as a friend as well as a trusted and valued HR colleague, and I'm delighted that we get the opportunity to work together from time to time. We're like-minded and share similar values and passions, so we make a great team!"

Sue reflected on the HR landscape in 2008 when she first launched the business. "Two weeks after I launched the business, the 2008 financial crisis struck which meant most of my time over the first two years was spent navigating the challenges that this brought for businesses and unfortunately an awful lot of redundancies. Many businesses were faced with taking brave and unpalatable decisions to adapt and reshape to survive. This certainly highlighted the importance of businesses being in a position to adapt and reshape at any point in time with the resilience to see it through", she said.

Helen, seeing parallels in the industry currently, added, "15 years on and we're seeing similar challenges for businesses with the current cost of living and financial strains affecting businesses and their employees. Employers are often between a rock and a hard place with a focus on protecting their business finances, but a desire to support their workforce with their own day to day pressures."

The past 15 years have seen significant changes in the HR landscape including developments in employment law and evolving expectations around flexible working in terms of hours and location, with many employers now embracing innovative solutions to manage capacity and financial liability to place them in a stronger position to enjoy the good times and weather the tough times.

Whilst the business landscape can often be volatile, the future does look bright for many. Here's what we've learned from the last 15 years:

Risks to businesses come in many forms.

Resilience, planning and an open mind are all key skills for employers and business owners and support the ability to respond to challenges when they arise.

Whilst financial strains can be top of the risk list, there's also absences, both planned and unplanned and the lesser seen risks of poor workplace culture and employer reputation.

Employee expectations have changed and no longer is recruitment and retention under the control of the employer. Businesses can place themselves into a stronger position by focusing on what they offer to employees. The expectations of the generations that are coming into the workforce have changed with more emphasis on wellbeing, career development and flexibility. Ignoring these generational changes can leave your business behind, find out what drives your team and do your best to fulfil it.

Businesses have to be open to embracing the tools that are available as if not, employees will choose those employers who do.

There's a variety of ways to respond to a challenge

Whilst redundancies were a key tool during the 2008 financial crisis, businesses have responded in a variety of ways to the current cost of living crisis. Where finances allow, some have generously provided a pay rise in line with the cost of living increase. However, some employers have taken a more creative approach providing a one off 'cost of living' payment, or a supermarket voucher for targeted support and protecting their business from sustained financial liability.

Redundancies will always be a risk for any business who has employees. However, there are alternatives, short time working or short term layoff can sometimes provide a solution if there's a short term hiatus in work. There's also other more 'natural' ways to reduce capacity and costs, with many employees looking for flexible working options including reduced hours or hybrid working where premises costs can potentially be reduced.

Whilst there has been negative press around casual hours contracts or fixed term working, used in the right way and in a fair manner, can work for both parties and provides an additional tool for businesses to utilise.

The HR landscape continuously changes

Employers have had a lot to contend with in the last 15 years and in many cases it feels that changes provide additional protection for employees and additional liability for employers.

Some of these changes highlight areas that could be considered as opportunities. The Equality Act 2010 provides specific protection for individuals with a protected characteristic, but this also highlights untapped pools of talent who are largely underrepresented in employment and could support your business. There are often financial supports and incentives available to support individuals into work.

Keeping up to date with HR trends and best practice often provides an insight into how to keep your team happy and in 2018, we saw the development of the principles of 'Good Work' when the government commissioned a review of modern work practices showing the recognition of the moving landscape.

The principles include Satisfaction, Fair Pay, Participation & Progression, Wellbeing, Safety & Security and Voice & Autonomy. In addition to the requirements of employment law, we'll see these principles continue to shape the HR landscape.

Think about the future

Whilst we all get caught up in the here and now, the last 15 years have shown us that we cannot be complacent and need to plan ahead and sometimes for the unexpected. Most businesses recognise the need to adapt and reshape their business to maintain a competitive edge and for some, simply survive. However we have to also keep an eye on what we know is ahead, trends that indicate trouble is ahead and then risks that we've identified, even if they might never happen!

Business continuity regularly comes up in conversation and I'm encouraging my clients to about their business-critical functions and how these can be protected, especially when many small businesses are dependant on a small number of individuals in key roles. Do you have procedures for business critical tasks that if not performed would put your business in jeopardy?

Businesses that constantly review, and look for continuous improvement place themselves in a stronger position. In many businesses, communication with employees has improved and transparency often brings out ideas, suggestions and other ways that businesses can continuously improve. 

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Tuesday, 25 June 2024