People team: HR the Clarasys way

Find out why our “HR department” operates differently from traditional functions and how it works in the shape of a “People team”.


People team: HR the Clarasys way

Find out why our “HR department” operates differently from traditional functions and how it works in the shape of a “People team”.


Meet the author

Sophie Andrews

Head of People

Michelle Tackie Obende

People Partner - Team Lead

At Clarasys, we have intentionally shied away from building a traditional HR function. We believe our People team, as HR is known here, should be truly invested in our employees’ development and success, whilst working more closely with other areas of the business to achieve our company vision and strategies. That’s one of the reasons why we combined the HR, People Experience, and People Success areas into one team and all strive to work towards our People team vision of ‘Relentlessly pursuing the success, health and happiness that drives our collective goals’.

We continue to build a business that fundamentally operates differently from many typical businesses. The People Team operates by the agile principles to inspect, adapt, and iterate on the way we do things and continue to connect and partner with external resources to support our people. Sometimes priorities will change, and fast, because we are responding to feedback and not following a set plan or templated response to a situation. We endeavour to avoid more traditional ‘HR’ language that dissociates the ‘human’ from the process. Most importantly, wherever we can, we place people before a policy – everyone has individual circumstances and in order to effectively support them, we may offer something different based on their bespoke needs, for example when it comes to working from home or working from abroad temporarily.

We have all the usual policies you would expect for things like maternity and paternity leave because they have legal and financial impact. But we don’t mandate the number of days people need to be in the office, for every role, because we come from a position of trust. We trust that our people will do the right thing for the business and their team. If they don’t, a person’s team will manage the situation rather than the People team.

We use an advice process to cover situations such as working from abroad which means the person involved needs to ask everyone impacted by their proposal for their feedback. The advice process is also used for things like a request to attend an expensive training course. In this situation, the person would ask colleagues who would be affected to respond to the proposal and decide whether it is the right thing to do. Put simply, the individual is placed in charge of the outcome.

Traditional HR teams are often perceived to focus more on protecting the business and minimising the risk of it being sued. At Clarasys, we are focused on proactive interaction with employees to help them succeed. We are highly transparent and endeavour to make ourselves easy to engage with. Our People team doesn’t just handle administrative activities and payroll, firefight when something is going wrong, or advise when a policy and procedure is unclear. We pride ourselves on our open door policy that allows two-way feedback between our people and the business and the quality of our listening, not just at key moments such as performance reviews or people surveys. At Clarasys, it’s about having an ongoing, joined-up approach.

Some People-related projects we intentionally deliver in a cross-functional team: consisting of other colleagues and consultants.  This ultimately delivers the best outcome for our people, which is always our main driver. We prioritise projects with input from the employees, where appropriate because we’re an employee-owned company and it’s important that our employees are a part of the decision-making wherever possible.

While we are a new team and still growing, we are confident that we have the right breadth of skills and experience within the team, holding HR, CIPD, and mental health certifications. Some People Partners are also ex-consultants which means they understand the challenges the job brings. This allows us to understand and empathise with what might be happening day to day for colleagues. For the rare occasions where the ask is more complex or requires a different type of support, we draw on external legal support and other specialists, which ensures that we have the expertise and knowledge to support our people with the latest industry advice.

Our methods will continue to evolve to meet the new needs that arise as the business grows. Many HR departments are faceless and head office-based. Our People team sits in the office with our consultants. We are approachable and always available for a coffee. Consulting is a demanding job and it’s our aim to make work life a bit easier and enjoyable.

Find out more about us, check us out on Glassdoor or get in touch to find out more.

You might also like