A decade of change and no change – Celebrating 10 years of HR advice at Gravitas HR

Submitted by Mark on 27th April 2022

A decade of change and no change – Celebrating 10 years of HR advice at Gravitas HR

It’s our birthday here at Gravitas HR and of course we are celebrating. For the last 10 years we have been providing the businesspeople of Northampton with consultancy, honest advice, and the help they needed when it comes to human resources. But, what does that decade in HR support actually mean to us and our clients?

Celebrating 10 years of consultancy in human resources
We had a little celebration recently in recognition of our 10 year business birthday and afterwards, the way you often do on anniversaries, we started to talk about the changes we have seen over the years. People who work outside the HR space often don’t realise just how fast moving it can be and the last 10 years really have been a roller coaster. It was an exciting and sometimes turbulent decade to be in the HR business. Of course, the biggest shock came with the pandemic. It brought, amongst other things, lockdowns, new workplace guidelines, social distancing, furloughs, and the sudden necessity of adapting to remote working. While the shift to a more hybridised working pattern may well have been inevitable in the long run, the need to implement it immediately ushered in some wide-ranging changes. I think there has probably been enough said about remote working for the time being though. If you want more on it our blog how to adopt hybrid working is a good resource. 

Thinking back over 10 years of change in the workplace
Despite the Covid pandemic the last 10 years have seen some very positive changes as well as some logistically difficult ones.

Auto enrolment is also having a 10-year birthday this year. You may remember it took 4 years to roll out via a series of phases and there was a lot of confusion about what it meant and how it was to be implemented. Although it still needs handling correctly it’s generally working well and hopefully it has created a workplace where everyone should have access to a pension when they retire.

Pay and working conditions have also changed several times. The introduction of the National Living Wage for the over 25s in 2016 was particularly significant. When the gender pay gap regulations came into force in 2017 they caused a few shockwaves by demonstrating the extent to which the gender gap still existed. The resulting focus on how few women were in senior positions prompted some much needed cultural change.

On the subject of cultural change, recognising the need for more diverse and inclusive workplaces deserves a mention here. As awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion has been building, divisive working cultures are started to be recognised and challenged. We have all found ourselves reflecting on what the high ideals of inclusion mean for the workplace in practical terms. It has been fascinating to see this awareness growing and apply it to real world policies and approaches. It really feels like everyone is moving towards a culture where equality is the standard. 

Finally, and still on the subject of awareness, perhaps one of the few positive outcomes of the pandemic was that it accelerated all our understanding of the importance of mental wellness. In 2012 mental illness was still very often swept under the carpet, or worse, still sometimes regarded as a weakness. To see workplaces working to help people overcome or avoid mental wellbeing issues is frankly wonderful.

So, what are we celebrating most?
I suppose as a husband and wife team the first thing we should be celebrating is that we are still a husband and wife team even after 10 years of working together. I am joking about it, but it can be difficult to switch off and just be yourself when you work together. I would be lying if I said we didn’t have the occasional ‘discussion point’ but we got here without too much drama.

We took on our first employee in 2013 and Liz is (thankfully) still with us. Over time she has become part of what we do and how we do it. Her values and working practices align perfectly with ours and she is always prepared to grow along with the needs of the business. 

The business has relocated a few times. We moved into our first small premises in 2013 then into to a bigger space in 2016 and then finally to our custom built office located in our own garden. I would love to tell you how this last move was about efficiency and adjusting to the new work/life balance focused working landscape of the 2020s and so on, but I will be honest. While there were many financial, efficiency and business reasons for the move, the deciding factor was the view from our office windows. There is a picture attached of what we see every day. I think you will agree it beats an office building car park.

If I had to pick one thing to raise a special glass for though, it would be that 10 years down the track we still have a client that we had when we sat down on our first day as Gravitas HR. To us that means a great deal. It is the ultimate compliment when someone is prepared to trust you for that length of time.

What have we learned in 10 years?
As I said at the start Human Resources is a deceptively dynamic world and, cliché though it may be, every day really is a school day. We are constantly learning. If I had to reflect on the success of Gravitas HR though I think there are 5 things we learned that served us well.

“Learn to walk before you can run” Don’t try to do everything at once. That old saying about chasing two rabbits catches neither is absolutely true. Know what it is you do best, plan to do it well, then stay in lane until you achieve. Take it steady and have a plan.

“Never be a stranger to your clients” It seems obvious, but customer focus is key. Over the years we have seen many businesses fail because they forgot to focus on their existing client base.

“We are all salespeople” All businesses need to recognise the importance of sales. We learned that early and it helped us tremendously. It doesn’t mean you turn into some sort of sales machine, just that you recognise and take the opportunities that present themselves.

“Welcome feedback and learn from it” Sometimes it is a hard lesson and sometimes it is a pat on the back, but either way you really must gather feedback to understand where you can build or where you need to change.

“Never be frightened to be yourself” When we first started, we made the common mistake of trying to be what everyone wanted us to be, so we got their business. It doesn’t work. Be who you are, and you will attract the businesses and people that align with your values. If that means you are not the right fit here and there, then so be it. It’s better to learn early if you and a client are not right for each other. 

What are we celebrating? Well, I suppose the real answer is that for 10 years we have done what we set out to do in 2012. We have given the right advice and service to our clients, we have helped them grow, and we have done that by doing a job that we love doing. Simple as that may be, that is what we are really raising a glass to. We are toasting that those 10 years in business are a result of who we are and our commitment to our clients.

Dawn and Mark Exley