An organisation’s culture has a huge impact on its productivity. If employees feel like they belong and that their careers are supported, then they are better able to thrive as individuals and as a team.
Liz Rose, Group HR Director at IMI, advocates for building inclusive organisational environments. She spoke to Luke James, Co-Host of The Interview, about her career, IMI’s initiatives, and ensuring employee buy-in.
My name is Liz Rose; I have worked for IMI plc for 12 years. I have worked in various roles, but most recently as HR Director for the group. IMI is a specialist engineering company focused on solving acute industry problems, helping our customers become safer, more sustainable, and more productive. Our headquarters are in Birmingham, with over 10,000 employees operating globally in 50 countries. The majority of our product applications are focused in sectors such as Life Sciences, Industrial Automation, Transportation, Energy, and Indoor Climate.
I studied geography and classical music at university, which was an interesting but unusual combination. When I left university I worked for an IT firm in Australia. As a Project Manager I was asked to expand and bring in more resource. It was here that I experienced human resources and the people processes required to build a high performing team. When I returned to the UK, I joined a global Swedish organisation and progressed from there working at manufacturing sites and then progressing to European sales business partner positions. I spent a good period of time working in the Steel industry when I gained a lot of employee relations experience before leaving to join IMI as Head of Group Reward. I transitioned from Group Reward to Divisional HR Director before stepping into the role I’m in today at the end of 2020.
First of all, it’s about creating the right environment. People must feel like they belong and can connect. You need inclusion; you cannot have diversity without having an inclusive culture. Equally, having a clear growth strategy that people can connect to has helped the organisation come together as one big team with a common purpose of Breakthrough Engineering for a Better World. Another key thing from an HR perspective is talent; it’s about looking after our people, supporting them and their careers with development and clear role progression opportunities.
It’s about being consistent and acting with intent. At IMI, we don’t do things on the spur of the moment. A culture of belonging has permeated the organisation over several years. We have learned through our actions that IMI is only at its best when our people are at their best — so we focus on employee wellbeing and building a culture that our teams can be proud of.
We have an employee engagement survey, which is anonymous, that we introduced three years ago. This has transformed our ability to understand what our employees think of us, and where we can improve. We create new lines of actions annually to evidence that we listen and respond.
We have very open communication. A few years ago, we introduced a new internal communication platform, Workplace by Meta, a fantastic tool that broke down divisional and language barriers and created an open line of communication throughout the organisation. 70% of our employees have active accounts, which is amazing. Through the platform our people can connect with each other, share best practice and recognise outstanding achievements. They also connect on topics that interest them - we have wellbeing groups, a Pride network, women in leadership, growth-oriented groups, Big team of Pets — you name it we have it — to support the needs of our employees and further that sense of belonging.
Inclusion & Diversity is embedded through the organisation. Talent is just one example of how we can do this. Our executive did a big project on talent attraction, management, and retention, looking at it through an I&D lens to ensure that different perspectives were considered. This is why we set ourselves certain targets, to ensure that we are covering the whole organisation.
We have a programme called Catalyst. The first cohort was all-female, and we looked at what we could do to support their personal development via coaches, mentoring groups, and offering tools and techniques to help support their career progression. Nearly 70% of those individuals, having gone through the normal recruitment process, were promoted. We opened the second and third cohorts up to all high potentials but kept a good gender balance.
We can’t deliver our strategy for our customers if we have unhappy employees. When we correlate our employee engagement data against our data score for customers, there is higher engagement and satisfaction. So not only are we creating a high engagement culture, but we’re creating a customer service environment where we can better support them. We put diverse teams together with a growth mindset to ensure we have the best balance of expertise and skill to develop innovative solutions to help the customer solve their problem.
Developing this culture starts at the top with our leaders – making sure they encourage our teams to learn and grow, and give them the best opportunities for new experiences is essential to success. One of the ways we have developed our learning culture at IMI, is through our Growth Hub. Growth Hub is our innovation engine and pushes our teams to work with a Growth Mindset. Not only do they have the change to work better world solutions for our customers, but the process pushes our teams to think big and bravely, arming them with new skills to help us to support our customers. We encourage all employees to get involved in Growth Hub, including our Graduates, so they can test, learn and challenge quickly.
We’re also passionate about developing our talent. We’ve invested in e-learning platforms, rolled out development programmes for our top talent and aligned our leadership development to our better world growth ambitions. I also think, along with all of the initiatives we’ve put in place, it’s really important to recognise successes and continue to champion our teams. I’m passionate about sharing our teams stories, best practice and believe this helps to reinforce the importance of continuous learning and growth.