Silvia & Holly outside HMP Pentonville, on a Prison visit.
Day in the life of a HR & Culture Manager
Since I arrived in London, back in 2011, I started working as a Barista! I did not have much experience, I have started practicing until I gained all the necessary skills to become a great FOH staff member. I loved it! A great place to start.
My love for HR started to develop while working with my colleagues; I noticed there was a significant difference between them in terms of work ethic. Some were happy and working efficiently and some others just felt miserable and dissatisfied. I then decided to analyse the disparity which let me comprehend that each employee was treated differently and this had a resounding effect on their motivation.
After years working in several restaurants/pubs/bars, a Human Resource Internship opportunity came along, and I decided to apply straight away as I felt I had to understand and try to change this unhealthy work environment. I made it my mission to create happy working environments for all staff! After gaining the experience and knowledge within the HR sector, I have taken the opportunity to join Social Pantry as a HR & Culture Manager. This was exactly what I was looking for in order to complete my role. I strongly believe the importance of creating a healthy working space as the appropriate atmosphere makes employees much more efficient and more comfortable during working hours. Most people spend lots of time at work, about a third of their time, which is why it is essential to create a beneficial culture whichever workplace you are part of.
What are the elements which attracted me the most to join Social Pantry?
Before joining Social Pantry, I read an article in relation to Alex Head from Stylist magazine’s Remarkable Women of the Year Awards 2019.
The interview was about ex-offender`s rehabilitation and employment support within Social Pantry. I was so inspired by reading this article. It`s very rare to meet a young woman so openminded without prejudices who offers second chances to people. Since I have started at Social Pantry, my introduction to this side of the business was supported by Holly and Daniel who were my key people in order to understand how to include and successfully support this part of the organisation and manage it well with the rest. It takes a lot of energy, but it is so rewarding, trust me!
Describe a normal day.
My day at Social Pantry is different every day, I get very involved in the business and work closely with Holly, our Operation Manager. We are always trying to find the best way to support each individual employee and help them with their development needs and find new ways of engaging employees and support their training and career.
What challenges do you face in this role?
Retaining staff within the hospitality business is one of the hardest parts of my job. It is challenging to compete against corporate organisations and to structure employee compensation so to create a system which rewards employees. Having a well-structured benefit scheme and a company welfare plan contributes significantly to a positive assessment of the quality of life in the workplace.
Some of the most appreciated benefits are:
- Lunch, always delicious!
- Vouchers for kindergarten and babysitting
- Personal vouchers
- Flexible working hours
- Health care
- Working from home
Benefits for professional growth such as:
- Corporate training
- Teamwork training
- Corporate welfare plans
Working in a company that offers benefits and a well-structured corporate welfare program, significantly increases the perception of quality of life and well-being at work.
How can employees enhance a positive working environment?
Employees can make their own contribution to create a positive working environment. The structure of the work is defined by the company, but staff can still take simple steps to improve the mood in the workplace.
At Social Pantry we always encourage employees to:
- Socialise with colleagues. Social relationships that can also be expanded outside work, helps to strengthen mutual respect and trust. Social Pantry organises courses, informal dinners, as well as team bonding days. Teamwork must be the foundation for any type of activity.
- Respect the privacy of others. At the end of the day, many people see work as a way of getting away from their daily lives.
- Create moments of distraction during work; taking breaks, have a coffee or lunch together.
I am confident in saying that a positive climate encourages people to be more proactive, to share their ideas, not to get bored during working hours and to work while having fun.
- One of the aspects that contributes to make a work environment stimulating is people’s motivation.
- Gratifying people – not only with a pay rise but often also with a compliment or special thanks is very motivating
- Training also plays a key role. We must ensure that people periodically have fixed deadlines for training and professional updating courses for specialist and sector purposes.
- All workers demand a certain freedom. Freedom to do things on their own way and to be held accountable. This promotes people’s creativity and makes them proud of their work.
What skills are needed for an HR professional?
Enjoying working and connecting with people are some of the necessary skills to act professionally and fairly.
1. Communication skills.
As an HR you must be talkative. You deal with a lot of people, listening to their concerns work-related or not. Thankfully to these interactions, you achieve employee’s loyalty and trust, improving interrelationship at work.
2. Organisational skills.
The HR role includes lots of tasks from training, employee relations and recruitment. To successfully oversee these functions, you must have an organized and planned system in place in order to increase productivity and be able to handle more than one job at time.
3. Training and developmental Skills.
HR professional are responsible for offering workers development opportunities to increase performance and enhance value. Training programmes are the key factor to provide skills to the employees.
4. Budgeting skills.
Compensations and benefits are run through HR, including training and development, activities, performance review etc. These activities must be incorporated into their organization’s budgeting and HR must oversee and limit the overspend on excessive activities.
5. Empathetic skills.
An HR expert deals with many people and their concerns, is therefore needed to be empathetic to ensure employees are feeling supported and comprehended before making any judgement.
What keeps you motivated every day?
I love working with people, listen to their worries and joy to their success.
At Social Pantry, being the only HR in charge, gives me much flexibility to try different things and make changes quickly.
I also work really close with each department and I feel part of a family, which is one the main reasons why I love working at Social Pantry.
What advice would you give someone considering a career in HR?
Be open minded, be approachable, be objective and talk to employees as much as you can. Developing good relationships and being well known and recognised in the business, I believe is one of key factors for an HR professional, known as a positive influence from the business and staff.
HR is a great field to work in, with many opportunities, but with the right skills, success will be an objective fact.