Becoming the Employer of Choice


Q & A with Stephanie Durrant – Head of Group HR, Pall-Ex Group


Fortec, and Pall-Ex Group, is on a journey towards achieving excellence as it continues to grow.

The logistics company has created a series of strategic ambitions, which it thinks will help to achieve this. One of these ambitions is to become the Employer of Choice.


To gain an understanding of what this ambition means and how the business will deliver it, Pall-Ex Group’s Head of Group HR, Stephanie Durrant, has provided some insight about how the business is going about becoming the Employer of Choice.



What does becoming the Employer of Choice mean to you?


“Becoming the Employer of Choice, for me, is essential to our business’ ability to achieve the company plan that was recently launched. We will do this by attracting and retaining the most talented people by delivering a desirable company culture, great employee engagement and a robust and inspiring leadership style.


“Our vision is for every single employee to love coming to work, whilst enjoying performing to their full potential and really wanting to contribute to the success of the business.

“Also, it is about developing a strong brand and positive reputation within the wider community, as well as delivering a fantastic Employee Value Proposition (EVP). This ensures that people in the local community and further have positive feelings towards the Fortec and Pall-Ex Group name, and as a result are promoting us positively, making us an attractive employer for local talent, drawing in the skilled people needed to deliver our future success.”



What challenges does the business face currently in this respect?


“Having joined Pall-Ex Group in May, I have spent the last three months listening and observing our people and our culture as a whole. From this, it is abundantly clear to me that we have a wealth of talented individuals, all of whom are extremely loyal and dedicated to the company and our strategic aims – This means we are doing a number of things well.


“However, Covid-19, Brexit and being in a very competitive industry means that we currently face many challenges as a business. Ensuring we position ourselves as the Employer of Choice is vital to our future.


“One key challenge that we have identified is that many other companies are also focusing on their EVP, whereby they are offering enhanced packages for staff. Therefore, Fortec and Pall-Ex Group need to offer over and above the standard package, whilst remaining innovative and continuing to deliver on our promises.


“Kevin Buchanan, Pall-Ex Group CEO and the strong leadership team he has built, are all committed to building and maintaining a positive company culture and leadership which will support our quest to become the Employer of Choice.”



What are your targets for this year? What do you hope to achieve?


“We have to make sure all of our targets this year are measurable. In the last few months, we have produced data dashboards for all areas of the business, supporting with the monitoring of how successful our efforts are.


“All of our initiatives are directly linked to the Company Plan that was launched to all staff members across the Group a few months ago. They have a particular focus on specific KPIs, namely our Employee Engagement Survey results, Time to Fill Vacancies, Retention, Cost of Recruitment and Absence levels.

“Our baseline aim is to see significant improvement in all of these areas which will then illustrate that we are moving in the right direction.”



What are you currently implementing to help achieve these goals?


“The initiative that has had the greatest effect so far has been the significant pay investments in our FLT and HGV employees. This has helped us to attract and retain these skilled employees to the business, who are critical to our operation. As a result of this, it has been great to see so many former employees return, as it demonstrates that our culture is one that they are happy to work in, when the wages are competitive.


“The next twelve months are very exciting for us, with lots of critical initiatives being launched to strengthen our brand and our employee experience.”



Here are some of the initiatives that the HR Team are focused on:


Strategy Session

All senior leaders will be holding strategic discussions on the cultural piece, focusing on engagement action planning at a group level.”


Employee Engagement Survey Action Planning

Shortly after our Strategy Session, we conducted our first Employee Engagement Survey, and following this, we will be holding employee action planning sessions to investigate how we can improve the work experiences our employees have on a day-to-day basis.”


Achieving Excellence Champions Team

We have formed brilliant team of individuals from throughout the business who are our ‘Achieving Excellence Champions’.


“We meet regularly to discuss hot topics and each and every member of the team adds so much value by providing great feedback and speaking to fellow employees, seeking their opinions. We have had three positive sessions to date, covering topics such as communication, employee engagement survey and recognition awards (performance and length of service).”

Recruitment Excellence Project


“We know that to achieve our goal of business excellence, we must attract the best possible people to our business. To do this, a team has been formed to discuss how we can improve our talent attraction and how we can occupy our vacancies quickly, with the best possible candidates.

“Our team has developed a recruitment strategy that places our company values at the heart of our offering. This involves evaluating our practices so that they are efficient, and candidates enjoy a positive experience from day one.


“The project has also resulted in the production and launch of our first EVP, which we will continue to build upon, and we have also implemented a new job canvas, promoting how a role adds value to the business.


“Furthermore, our Group HR Manager, Tabitha Connolly is now the dedicated Talent Acquisition Resource, and is providing much needed support to our leadership team on recruitment and selection activities. Meanwhile, Preeti Mistry, HR Advisor, is supporting Tabitha by developing a suite of recruitment tools, more attractive adverts being an example of this.


“Overall, the whole team are working hard to create a positive candidate experience, using feedback to improve our processes and procedures.”



FLT and HGV Trainee Academy


“We are investing in the local communities by providing training schemes that upskill people in FLT and HGV roles, providing them with higher earning potentials. This is mutually beneficial situation, as the company gains skilled people at the right time in the right locations, whilst benefitting our local communities.”



Communication Excellence Project


“To deliver excellent communication throughout the business, a cross functional team meet to discuss how communication can be improved. Actions from these meetings have seen the development of a new employee newsletter that will be distributed to staff across the Group.

“Furthermore, HR Advisor, Simaran Uppal, is taking the lead role in producing a new induction programme, which will ensure new starters are onboarded smoothly, ensuring they feel part of the business from their first day with Fortec and Pall-Ex Group.


“Finally, we are starting to implement staff forums across all Pall-Ex Group sites, further improving the understanding we have for how our employees feel about working within the Group. This can only improve our culture and help us to become the Employer of Choice.”



How are staff responding to these actions?


“Our employees have provided some really positive feedback, so far. I hear from a variety of sources that they can see progress is being made in a number of areas, despite our initiative being in the early stages. Delivering on our promises to gain trust is something I strongly believe in, so this will take time, but so far so good!


“Everyone will need to come together and play their part as we embark on our journey towards achieving excellence and becoming the Employer of Choice. Whether this is filling in an engagement survey or a leader taking a different approach to a situation, every small improvement will add value to our vision.”


“The feedback received so far is great and I absolutely love hearing it! I see it as a gift because it can only make things better!”


What benefits to the business will this bring?


“Being an Employer of Choice is critical to Pall-Ex Group’s success. Links between employee engagement, employee welfare and improved customer service, and ultimately improved business results are clear, so the business will benefit in the months and years to come!”



What are the key areas that will secure Employer of Choice status, in your opinion?


“In my opinion, we must continue to deliver inspirational leadership, an empowering and inclusive culture, effective communication, and strengthened recruitment channels are all key to reaching that status.


“We must also focus on our employer brand, positive employee and candidate experience as well as living and operating by our core values, delivering career growth opportunities, competitive pay and benefits.


“As well as this, we are focussing heavily on improving employee welfare throughout the business, as to be an Employer of Choice, this is vital. We have implemented an employee assistance programme to support staff who need advice on a wide range of topics, plus a new remote working policy, which provides greater flexibility to employees, allowing them to enjoy a greater work-life balance.


“As we continue to make continuous improvements through listening and taking action, no doubt Pall-Ex Group will be the Employer of Choice.”