With over 20 employees arrested under Operation Elveden’s investigation into payments to public officials, there was a lot to learn when I became the HR Director for The Sun in 2013. In practice, I led the company’s response to the employees and other groups involved, scenario planned what could happen, and managed communication with the journalists involved, the Newsroom and our legal teams. After 10 trials, all Sun journalists who had been charged were acquitted or their bail was dropped.
Some had been on bail for 2 years and it was a period of exceptional strain on many individuals. I was managing the process for some of the journalists to return to work and others who chose to leave the company. The efforts undertaken to respond to the company crisis, with transparency and compassion, were acknowledged in the 2014 employee survey, when optimism about the Company’s future increased by 24%.
News UK additionally faced disruption of its business with the advent of free news online. This created uncertainty for a major revenue source: advertising revenues.
To respond to this, we secured substantial investment for a Commercial transformation project. This was a 3 year transformation project requiring us to create new roles and change culture and behaviour to respond to the market. At the end of the three year project, we had;
- taken costs down by a third and generated an additional uplift in revenue
- enabled 85% of staff to clearly understand and role-model the behavioural change required
- driven greater collaboration, innovation and strategic planning across the business: which resulted in several pioneering advertising campaigns
Unfortunately, I have dealt with the aftermath of an employee Suicide more than once. I met with devastated families, led the Company’s measured response to the shock and grief this created amongst colleagues, and guided a functional mental health campaign off the back of this. A leader who I supported during this time, described me as “calm, assured, tough, honest and knowledgeable”.
The shock decision to close the News of the World in 2011 meant the News International HR team had four days to plan a collective consultation process for several hundred staff plus casuals and freelancers. The fact that we received less than a handful of Employment Tribunals relating to the closure is testament to the way it was handled.
After a structural merger of two commercial sales teams, I partnered with the Leadership team on a cultural change programme focused on enabling collaboration. It was a highly inclusive project over five years. We created and embedded values in everything that we did to enable our staff to talk, feel and act differently.