A day in the life... with Anna Cheshire, Regional HR Advisor

“It’s true that teamwork makes the dreamwork!” says Anna Cheshire, Regional HR Advisor at Workdry.

“At the end of the day, people are at the heart of the business. It’s got to be a team effort, all the time.”

Anna provides HR advice and guidance to the Workdry business, covering the northern branches and Pump Sales and Manufacturing in the south.

“I’ve had an eclectic career which has not always been HR focused! I’ve worked in many different industries, such as remote international medical and landmine clearance as an Executive Assistant for a CEO, SHEQ Operations Manager and Bids and Proposals Manager. I've also worked in other industries such as Care, as a Care Quality Manager.

“The diversity of the businesses I’ve worked for has given me really good business exposure and transferable skills. I think that coupled with life experience; it makes me a more well-rounded HR professional.”

Supporting people managers

Anna summarises her role as “providing professional, pragmatic advice and guidance on all sorts of people matters”.

She works closely with Selwood managers to help them “better manage their teams”, “ensure what they do is compliant with employment law” and offers advice to help them with decision making.

“It’s really important to make sure that how they support their staff also aligns with the company’s core values.

“Core values are such a valuable tool to help us to be our best selves at work, support each other when it gets tough and help us make better decisions in difficult situations. Particularly when we've got a situation where there is no rulebook or fixed process to follow. I’m really passionate about continually finding more ways to embed our core values into the business.”

Anna also spends much of her time supporting managers with learning and development, upskilling them in areas of people management so they have the knowledge and skills to make better decisions and look after their teams.  

No typical day in HR

An HR Advisor encompasses so many different aspects, such as navigating people issues, handling disciplinaries and grievances, recruitment support, mentoring and coaching and employee engagement.

“There is no typical day in HR. I could be doing anything from telephone queries to problems, holidays, and contracts. The next minute, I could be providing coaching to managers on absence and performance management, writing job descriptions or conducting probation reviews. I also spend a lot of time supporting managers with investigations, capability issues, disciplinaries grievances, appeals and change processes.

Anna adds: “You’re trying to balance your day job with the project work and your own continuous development. I’m constantly learning from experience and doing research to keep up with the latest employment tribunals and changing case laws. It’s a challenge but you learn to prioritise what is needed and relevant”.  

New people initiatives

Anna, like all the HR team has been supporting the rollout of an exciting HR plan, which involves projects such as updating policies and procedures, a new HR system, recruitment process, job descriptions, pay and reward and learning and development initiatives.  

“It’s a three-to-five-year plan and it’s going to be a game changer for ways of working and in helping to retain our great people and attract new talent.”

She also makes regular visits to the branches to build relationships with employees and managers, which she says is crucial in her role.

“Relationship management over everything is massive. If you don't have trusting relationships, nothing really works. For any issue I’ll talk it through, suggest different solutions, the risks with those solutions and what’s right for the individual and business.

“Quite often managers will come to me and say, oh, perhaps we should do this, perhaps we should do that – we then explore that together. It’s very much just working together, talking about scenarios, explaining about employment law, looking at risks, looking at comparators in the business.

“In a company like this, there is so much knowledge, passion, and hard work. It's just such a great opportunity to work with and help so many different and talented people.”

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