How we helped support a global UK based charity manage rapid international expansion

Founded in 2005 by Harry Potter author JK Rowling, its life president, Lumos Foundation focuses on helping eight million children around the world living in institutions and orphanages because they are poor, disabled or part of a minority group*. The foundation works with governments, funders, communities and families around the world to help inform policy and transform outdated systems, with the aim of reuniting children with families. *At least 80% of the eight million are not orphans

About Lumos

  • 85 staff
  • 7 overseas offices
  • Aim to end institutionalisation globally by 2050

The Challenge

Following a successful decade in Europe, in 2014 and 2015 the charity underwent major global expansion. This required the organisation’s first in-house HR presence in 2014. The charity took on 12 people in the last quarter of 2015 alone and the total staff count is now 85. There were two major concerns for Lumos Foundation during this expansion:

  • The challenge of maintaining a high standard of recruitment for key positions
  • Increasing operational HR issues which risked detracting from the charity’s wider mission

“Our challenge is that our sector is quite specialist” explains Lynda Brennan, HR Manager at Lumos. “We employ people with particular sets of skills who have to be the right fit. Ensuring we deal with this recruitment challenge so that the right people are in place is key for the growth of the foundation.”

The Solution

There was also a worry that as employee relation issues naturally increase in number and frequency as the charity continues to grow, the focus of HR might be taken away from the strategic aspects of international expansion that are vital to move the charity forward. 

ESP put together a tailored service package designed to deliver on-demand specialist employment law advice, as and when needed, alongside a comprehensive suite of online documentation — including policies, letters, forms, HR toolkits, training guides, fact sheets and other key document precedents and resources. 

Since ESP has been working with Lumos, the organisation has been able to manage, expand and develop its reach. Instead of dealing with day-to-day operational issues in the UK, the HR function can now focus on wider strategic issues, including international recruitment — which, given Lumos Foundation works in a very specialist area, presents a challenge that requires close care and attention. 

This renewed focus also meant that the charity could develop policies in other areas such as an improved induction and probation management system to help new members of staff reach peak productivity as quickly as possible.

We save considerable time by not having to create things from scratch anymore and ESP helps us to make the best use of the limited resources we do have. With a background in international HR, my time is now better spent putting my focus there than on managing day-to-day operational issues. 

What’s more, it’s great to have a quick sounding board. With ESP, we can think about something and put it into action very quickly. Recently, for example, we were able to pull a template from the ESP portal as soon as we had an issue, adapt it to what we needed and speak to a lawyer. ESP is our guide and operational ‘helping hand’; the process is really simple and straightforward and without any bureaucracy — whilst still being professional and legally-compliant, which fits with our organisation’s culture and values.

Lynda Brennan
HR Manager, Lumos Foundation

The ESP Difference

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