In December 2019, before the pandemic had hit the UK shores, the digital publishing SME based in Burton upon Trent, AI Global Media, made the decision to fill a role which, like so many other SMEs around the country, had been filled by untrained professionals. However, the directors at AI Global Media decided they required a fully trained HR professional to assist them with their plans for the business’s growth and development.
On January 13th, 2020 Natasha Aujla joined the AI Global Media family, assuming the role of HR Officer. Natasha chose to train in HR after assisting with the set up of SOP’s for a European pharmaceutical supply chain. As this company grew, Natasha found herself questioning management of the procedures for managing the workforce, being naturally drawn to the HR field, she was quickly put forward by the company to complete CIPD training in HRM where Natasha found a particular affinity in the area of employee relations. ER casework has since become an area of specialty for her.
In conversation with Natasha, she reflected how larger organisations are more likely to understand the value of HR more so than SMEs. ‘HR is an area that has evolved from a personnel function to now being a department that has a board seat.‘ Yet, Natasha was adamant that having a trained HR professional is an absolute must for any business as she explained, ‘a CIPD qualified HR manager is trained in data analysis, business acumen, learning & development amongst a host of other areas which make these employees indispensable to any enterprise with a workforce in double digits. A trained HR professional can really add value to your whole organisation. Having an effective and efficient HR practitioner in place ensures your people matters are well managed and alleviates that pressure from your line managers. Ultimately it reduces the risk to the business as well as managers.’
Kathryn Hall, the director with overall responsibility for HRM in the business, reflected upon the necessity for a SME having an HR professional saying, ‘at AI Global Media we understand just how important the HR function is within our business. HR encompasses so many different things so even for small businesses, a lack of HR presence can impact a lack of uniformity and continuity within the business particularly in terms of managing the workforce, it can lead to inconsistencies in and inadequate focus on recruitment, employee engagement is likely to be impacted and leave, whether sick or holiday, can go unmanaged.
Prior to the mass furloughing of employees in March 2020, Natasha managed to: revamp the absence and holiday booking system, firm up the performance management schedule and improve hiring protocols via completion of job descriptions and employee objectives. Currently, she is working collaboratively on a new on-boarding program while ensuring the business is compliant with the regulations for trading with EU countries.
All of which goes to show how much a trained HR professional can benefit an up-and-coming SME in the UK as Kathryn Hall from AI Global Media said, ‘An adequate emphasis on HR can save a business thousands, or even tens of thousands, of pounds per year through poor hiring decisions, inadequate training and a lack of performance management. Our advice to start-ups and new businesses would be to factor this into your budget in early years. It will not be a decision you regret making!’