Thought Leadership Archives - Hensen Associates

The Carillion collapse and HR’s important role in a crisis

Carillion was once a leading international integrated support services business – until it’s recent spectacular collapse.

Until recently, they employed around 43,000 people and operated in the UK, Canada and the Middle East – but with an uncertain future for Carillion, thousands stand to lose their jobs.

One of Carillion’s major contractors, the British Government, has reassured employees working in schools, hospitals and military contracts that they would continue to be paid. The terms of the deal agreed in the government’s Insolvency Service has meant that they will front the bill until new suppliers can be found. However, no payments have been made as of yet – The same deal was not granted for the private sector and many construction sites have stopped work.

With this billion pound organisation going into liquidation, we have looked at the important role in which HR plays during this type of crisis.

  1. Communication Is Key

It is vital to communicate with employees before, during, and after a crisis in order to stop rumours, and essentially let people know what’s going on.

Employees will no doubt go into a panic and worry about job security, therefore it is important to be transparent and give consistent information to anyone likely to be affected. Open communication is necessary – so it’s advised that contact details are shared, such as a specified email address, phone number or designated company page. In terms of Carillion, it will be paramount to include information regarding whether employees will still be paid, and whether they should return to work. Job security will be at the forefront of employees minds at a time like this.

  1.  Have a solid contingency plan

The collapse of Carillion has put thousands of jobs at risk. In a crisis such as this, HR may need to prepare for a hiring surge and creation of new contracts in order to complete outstanding work – once the scenario has settled. On the other hand, jobs will be lost and panic will spread. In this circumstance, HR can provide an outplacement service. HR will be keen to support employees who are exiting the business (voluntarily or involuntarily) as a result of the Carillion collapse. As part of this service, It will be important to help former employees transition to new jobs and help them re-orient themselves in the job market.

As a result, a solid contingency plan is imperative – not having an effective program in place will only increase problems that employers may encounter.

In order to safely navigate difficult scenarios, it’s important to have a process set in place and communicate this to all employees.

HR has a strategic role and responsibility to ensure their organisation is aware of internal vulnerabilities and ensure their crisis management plan covers all potential risks and concerns. Essentially, HR will need to act as a point of contact for employees in this scenario and they will need to utilise all their tools and know how to practically support employees in this crisis.

  1. Work together

It’s important that all new employees are properly informed of company processes. Senior management may also need additional coaching on how to work with their teams during and after a crisis.

In order for the business to survive this turbulent time, it is important to quickly identify and understand the myriad of employee challenges at hand. Moving quickly to implement decisions will be hugely valuable for the survival of the company. The support and commitment that an organisation will need from its employees during and after a crisis can be facilitated by HR professionals, who understand both the business and employees’ perspectives.

HR will have to contend with the challenge of external factors during a crisis, such as economic expectations, geographical locations and legislation. Planning for the worst case scenario, such as the total inability to use the organisation’s resources and infrastructure, (as seen in such cases within Carilion) will enable the business to react better in future situations.

  1. The Aftermath

After any business crisis, HR will face a period of uncertainty. It is important for the department to be aware of the impact that the crisis has had on employees – and also the impact it can have on their own department, as realistically no one’s job is safe in a crisis such as this.

Employees, their family and even the community will often feel stressed, therefore it is important to help all those associated with the organisation when possible. It’s a good idea to have all company policies available on the website and in the handbook, so they are easily accessible.

Human resources face huge challenges (including their own), however, they can effectively prepare their organisations to respond better to the complexities that come in crisis’ such as the liquidation of Carillion, through taking a systematic and capability-driven approach. HR’s role is to represent the human side of the organisation and support those affected.

For more information on Hensen Associates visit our insights page.

The Golden Rules of Cloud HR Technology Integration

1. Less is More.

Cloud HR Technology harnesses data to improve employee experience. Sounds simple, right?

Sadly, like anything that appears effortless on the outside, the process of collaborating the data and applications on the inside can often be lengthy and difficult.

In reality, those that believe it’s a simple matter of plug and play once it’s out of the box are quickly brought back down to earth. This is because implementing any new HR system necessitates several crucial requirements, before the box even arrives.

In short, the Cloud means more integrations, not fewer.

2. The Early Bird Catches the Worm.

Like any complex programme, the key to success is in the planning stage, not the delivery. With such comprehensive benefits waiting at the end, it’s imperative to avoid the temptation of starting implementation immediately, or conversely doing nothing until it arrives. If you don’t follow this, you’re more likely to hit some of the following hurdles which could have been avoided if they’d been solved at the start of the programme.

3. A Design for Life.

Decisions you make regarding design may be influenced by understanding the key limitations other HR technology systems display; data formats for example. The importance of deciding on the design of your Cloud HR Technology before the start of the project is to ensure you have the ability to alleviate the risk of key interfaces not working before the design phase begins. Unfortunately, some systems have ‘non-negotiable’ data formats integrated – understanding this prior to the designs being finalised will save potential issues down the line.

4. A stitch in Time Save Nine.

Often, interfaces will be delivered by an overstretched internal IT team or an external third party, which in turn increases the risk of not being able to deliver the project within the expected timescales. The responsibility of delivering interfaces not lying within the main project team intensifies the importance of engaging resources prior to the start of the project. This is a consequence of the fact that the required resources depend on external sources which lengthens communication and therefore increases timescales.

5. Be Carful What You Wish For.

Introducing new, innovative technology means that manual work may become redundant if the process it currently carries out is duplicated by the new Cloud HR Technology. It’s critical that overlapping roles are identified and corrected prior to the implementation of the design phase in order to stop a key stakeholder finding out during a workshop that a new interface has removed a portion of their work.

6. The Devil is in the Detail.

A good example of where exacting definition of cloud HR integration requirements is crucial to integration is business intelligence (BI).  What often causes delay and frustration with BI is not the sending of physical data to the BI tool, nor the building of the report.  The hard part is agreeing definitions.  For example, absence.  If you have employees on different T&Cs, it may be that the definition of a working day is defined differently for each; therefore, a half day will also be different.  Agreeing upfront some core definitions will help with any interface work, as it means everyone is working to the same meanings and understanding.

7. Never the Twain Shall Meet?

One of the biggest integration headaches is payroll. In many companies, HR data is held in one system, and pay is processed in another.  This is because payroll requirements can be very specific with many variations of codes and calculations that may not work well in the HR system, especially when an organisation operates on a global scale.

Another reason for this separation could be that businesses have decided to outsource their payroll operations to a third party vendor and therefore do not need payroll functionality in-house.  Or payroll might be owned by Finance, and their system of choice is different from the HR system of choice.

Whatever the reason for having separate payroll and HR systems is, it is imperative that you know how each system is going to talk to each other before you start your HR project.

If this is the case, some of the following fundamental decisions might need to be made up front:

 • What is the boundary between the data you hold in HR and the data you want to hold in Payroll?

• If HR is the master and payroll the slave, will you disable edit function from local payrolls?

• Do you want to hold all the information that forms part of a contract of employment (base salary, bonus eligibility, pension information, benefits, etc.) in HR? If so, is this true of all geographies  or the larger regions only?

• Do you need data to come back from payroll and into HR? If so, what data and how often?

• How / where will the employee view compensation information, be that salary, bonus or other elements of total compensation?

8. The Proof is in the Pudding.

Employee IDs are a common ‘non-negotiable’ in many systems, be they payroll, expenses, travel or benefits.  Your pre-cloud implementation activities should include a mapping of all the systems you are linking with and documentation of the Employee IDs.  This way, you’ll know at the start if you have a major issues and need to make changes.

9. Every Cloud has a Silver Lining.

For more information relating to Workday, Cloud HR or HR transformation, contact Hensen Associates on the following details below:


T: +44 (0) 1189 901 137 


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The Hare and the Tortoise: Why We Need a ‘Phase Zero’ in Workday and Cloud HR Implementations



The organisational opportunities now available from Cloud HR Technology are extensive, but what HR project sponsors increasingly need to know is:

How can we get the best out of the solution we choose to implement?

Although Workday, SuccessFactors and similar Cloud HR vendors choose to focus on the ‘ease of implementation’ (sometimes phrased as ‘time-to-value’), there remain countless examples of where the technology simply fails to deliver the business benefits initially intended.

To avoid this common trap, organisations must endeavour to deliver the groundwork necessary to maximise the value from their Cloud HR Technology – prior to the implementation starting.

This groundwork – commonly referred to as ‘Phase Zero’ – is a series of activities designed to select the right technology option, communicate with employees and build the foundations for change.

This article discusses in detail how each of these three requirements can be met and delivered against successfully.


How Cloud HR Differs in Implementation Approach

Most organisations will recollect how ERP implementations used to work; decision and design phases took months in a prolonged and arduous process, resulting in a huge investment of time and money.

The introduction of Cloud Technology brought a new streamlined approach to implementation, but came with some very significant requirements needed to ensure the success of the project – some of which are all too easy to overlook and often glanced over in HR vendor sales presentations.

Specifically, because the process is much shorter, organisations need to:

  • make decisions quicker
  • adjust to much shorter design phases
  • prepare data quickly and accurately
  • be responsive to enterprise-wide implications

Organisations which therefore don’t increase preparation time will find that their Cloud HR implementation offers limited opportunities to customise their solution to the way their business works – a difficult situation to navigate when you’re simultaneously required to shift processes from HR to managers and employees.

However, the key gaps faced during the project can be predicted, and the answers prepared, as long as you create a pre-phase – otherwise known as ‘Phase Zero’.


Phase Zero Preparations and Activities

Prior to implementing your Cloud HR technology – organisations need to crystallise the following criteria during ‘Phase Zero’ to increase chances of project success:

  • quantifiable and achievable outputs
  • robust business case
  • genuine stakeholder buy-in
  • an accurate plan
  • adequate resourcing

Not only will this increase the confidence in a successful delivery and implementation, it can reduce risk of scope creep and time delays by up to 35-40%! That translates into a material decrease in the cost of implementation by potentially 20-25% along with increased benefits.



At Hensen Associates, our experience in HR Cloud Technology implementation shows that a task completed in Phase Zero, before you start your implementation, costs as little as 10% of the cost of that same task during the implementation.

In other words, investing in this preliminary phase saves you ten times the amount it would take in the actual programme.

So just like any big task, whilst it’s tempting to dive straight in at the beginning, it’s always best to plan properly to ensure consistent, successful progress – just like The Hare and the Tortoise.  

For expert advice on Cloud HR Technology implementations, please contact Hensen Associates on 01189 901137 or