As the growth of the business accelerated, there was a growing need for the existing HR team of three to receive operational HR and employment law support to cope with the increasing needs of their stakeholders – franchisees and the management team.
When Ben Dalgliesh joined the operations team, he identified that there was an opportunity to deliver better best practice document precedents, HR advice and processes to the franchisees, and support them as part of the general HR function of the group.
At the time, the team brought in an HR expert to update documentation and handbooks on an ad-hoc basis. They also had a traditional law firm in place, although the heavy cost and transactional service model prevented them from using the firm for everyday operational HR and employment law queries.
In addition to this, the company was preparing to scale up with a three-year plan to bring on more franchisees and grow the business significantly. A key part of this plan was the promise of HR and operational support to attract new franchisees as part of an important ‘added value’ membership service within the corporate support strategy.
The very first idea was for esphr to support the HR team only, but the scope of the project was expanded by Bob Darling, CEO, pushing the service offering to have a far wider reach. The new plan was to launch an internal HR service for franchisees and stakeholders that would deliver up-to-date, readily available employment law support with an online employment law and HR resources portal. This in turn would provide key processes and best practice documentation, tailored to the needs of the individual franchisees.
One of the challenges the team faced was finding a suitable HR and employment law support partner who was capable of delivering Coversure’s detailed specification. While traditional non-legally regulated HR helpline services were considered, it was felt these services wouldn’t provide the same level of commercial support available from qualified and significantly experienced senior employment lawyers. However, the options offered by the traditional law firms (where such experience usually resides) did not easily fit into the vision Coversure had for its HR solution either.
Ben Dalgliesh, Group Head of HR, said: “We wanted to build a trusting relationship between our HR team and the franchise businesses. We have bigger plans for the HR service and felt a much stronger, personal relationship would grow with the unique service provided by esphr. This was not a simple ask of any provider having to adapt advice to the needs of nearly 100 different business, albeit trading under the same brand. We needed an unlimited, specialist advisory service with commercially practical advice, backed up by access to a wide-ranging set of online resources – a tough ask.”