Congratulations to the winners of the HR Excellence Awards 2022

HR Magazine is delighted to announce the winners of the HR Excellence Awards 2022. 

Scroll down to see the full list of the winners.

Best Learning and Development Strategy

Winner: Webhelp

Webhelp designed a self-led, blended learning experience that would incorporate formal learning through virtual classrooms and workplace activities. Since 2018, over 500 highly interactive virtual classroom sessions have been developed, reaching over 8,000 managers worldwide. Nearly 4,000 employees have completed a full training programme – and given it a net promoter score of +62. Judges were impressed with Webhelp’s transformation during the pandemic, and the development pathways set up for managers.

Highly commended: University of Huddersfield

  • Gallagher
  • N Brown Group
  • Outcomes First Group

Best Talent Management Strategy
sponsored by Morson Group

Winner: PPD (part of Thermo Fisher Scientific)

Pharmaceutical research organisation PPD knew it needed a watertight strategy when it found itself in a white-hot talent war. To address employees’ growth and development, the team created a new flexible promotions programme and provided an online career development tool to help employees address skills gaps and track their career journey. Engagement and retention at the organisation have seen significant improvement, with the company witnessing a reduction in turnover and its hiring rate doubling between 2019 and 2021. Judges were particularly impressed by the logical, data-first approach to talent management.

    • Rolls-Royce
    • Wolseley UK

Best Transformation Strategy


Winner: Vodafone M-Pesa Africa

The MPA HR team had clear ambitions to bring the company over to an agile operating model and align their HR practices with agile principles. It built and adopted its scaled agile framework, a blueprint for work that gave employees a common language and method of working. By aligning employees to this common framework, MPA suddenly freed itself up to implement big gains in agility. Employees were pleased to see their leaders clearly articulating the mission and values, explaining the strategy, and living agile practices with regular communication, acceptance of feedback and being visible. The strategy’s effectiveness was clear to the judges, who praised MPA’s “compelling story of success.”

  • Doğuş Holding
  • Sertec
  • Smith + Nephew

Best Health and Wellbeing Strategy 
sponsored by Health and Wellbeing @ work

Winner: NHS Midlands and Lancashire CSU

The NHS Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit needed to develop a new strategy to fight back against post-pandemic burnout among its staff. As a result of multiple strategy touchpoints, the number of people suffering work-related stress has significantly reduced, and employees felt more empowered to take informed decisions about their health. Judges praised its clear focus on the business issue at hand and the engagement at every angle with its end goal of providing top-quality services to patients.

Highly commended: SoftServe


  • Suez Recycling & Recovery UK
  • The First Mile
  • Weir Minerals Europe
  • Yodel

Best Diversity and Inclusion Strategy

Winner: Police Now

Police Now’s mission is to attract, recruit, and train outstanding graduates with leadership potential to be police officers who will make a lasting difference in vulnerable communities. Police Now’s programme for change was bold. Diving into the data, it looked beyond generic groupings of candidates and developed a targeted campaign using authentic voices from the force. The results were brilliant, with high potential constables given a platform to share their training and instill positive values throughout their teams.

Highly commended: Immediate Media


  • Equiniti
  • MediaCom
  • Progress

Best HR Strategy from Overseas 

Winner: WorkMotion

The International University of Applied Sciences (IU) worked with WorkMotion to maintain its high growth recruitment strategy and expand into the non-German speaking world. The strategy allowed the IU’s HR team to take care of all onboarding requirements, including regulations and end-to-end payroll management, with the touch of a button. The university has seen a 14% increase in the rate of employee growth, adding over 1,000 employees in 2021. These new recruits come from all over the world, representing 75 different nationalities. Judges were impressed by the strategy: one praised the clear link between the original values of the IU and WorkMotion’s present-day strategy; another the innovative approach to tackling the challenge.

  • Abu Dhabi Police
  • CMS Jant ve Makina Sanayi

Best Early Careers Strategy


Winner: Landor & Fitch

Brand transformation agency Landor & Fitch’s (L&F) early careers strategy demonstrates an unshakeable faith in the ability, energy and talent of young people. The strategy, though split into three distinct efforts, is unified by a core purpose: to champion a career in the creative industry as something achievable by everyone, regardless of experience or background. Landor & Fitch’s focus on opening up the talent pipeline impressed the judges, who said the strategy was ‘thoughtful and considered work’.

Highly commended: Office of the Future Generations Commission

  • Fisher German

Best Internal Communications Strategy

Winner: Reward Gateway

Reward Gateway’s communications strategy is an excellent example of clarity. At every stage, design, execution, and result, it serves to inform employees and leadership alike. When building its strategy, the company mapped out the avenues of information that already existed, refining communications to three channels. A blend of video, audio and written content means all styles of learning are catered for, and blogs are sent out with personalised addresses to employees. Judges called the entry a “dynamic and exciting comms plan”, with a “great understanding that comms is two-way, not just projection".

  • BHF
  • Weir Minerals Europe

Best Employee Engagement Strategy
sponsored by Investors in People

Winner: Suez Recycling and Recovery UK

SUEZ’s strategy was to ask employees how they want to engage with the business’s core purpose of protecting the environment and help them to carry it out. The company launched three follow-up surveys, asking for views on how this could be done, targeting different audiences within the company. The board then set up a new critical success factor for the business, Sustainable Environment, and got to work. Its sustainable business travel policy saved the company £2 million and 2,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. Most concretely the company has seen a 18.5% reduction in days lost by absence – from 8.54 days to 6.96.

Highly commended: Alzheimer's Society

  • Comply Direct
  • Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust
  • Standard Club in partnership with Culture Amp
  • Valor Hospitality

Best Reward and Recognition Strategy 

Winner: Howdens Joinery

Howdens Joinery wanted to give something back to employees that would not only benefit them financially, but encourage them to really put their weight behind the firm – it wanted employees to ‘buy in.’ The joinery firm decided to launch a buy as you earn (BAYE) tax-advantaged share incentive plan (SIP) for 10,500 employees across the UK. The judges were impressed with the strategy’s return on investment (at £48 per head) and clear alignment with incentivising productivity, alongside the strategy’s “innovative ideas in the design and means of communication.”

  • Ocado Group in partnership with Benefex
  • E.ON in partnership with Edenred
  • Suez Recycling and Recovery UK
  • The Institute of Export and International Trade
  • University of Lincoln

Best CSR Strategy

Winner: Howdens Joinery

Howdens recruits more than 500 apprentices each year and decided to use the apprenticeship levy’s gifting schemes to counteract the large skills gap in the construction industry and supporting deprived communities. During its pilot, the joinery firm transferred £123,000 of levy funds to support 13 apprentices in construction, who are all performing well. The scheme will now be rolled out to other areas in 2023, creating 60 apprenticeships and supporting at least 30 small businesses. Howdens’ executive and board have fully bought into the scheme. Once it reaches full capacity, it aims to support 120 apprentices every year.

  • University of Lincoln

Best HR Technology Strategy

Winners: Smith + Nephew 

Back in 2018 medical equipment manufacturer Smith & Nephew was struggling to handle its recruitment across 40 countries. The tech team therefore launched a recruitment optimisation project, working with stakeholders from all regions to build out a new applicant tracking system. The results were astounding. From a broken system to a high-flying suite of modern tools, Smith & Nephew’s talent team has gone from strength to strength, with the new suit of tools generating $4.8 million in savings each year.

  • National Motorcycle Museum in partnership Natural HR
  • UST for Reimagining Career Velocity

Best Recruitment and Workforce Planning Strategy


Winner: BT

BT Security tackled the cybersecurity skills gap head on by running an intensive 17-week bootcamp for employees who had transferable skills. Its support for these employees who dared to take a leap into an unfamiliar industry was exemplary. Each one was paid their full wage throughout training and was guaranteed at the end of the programme.
Judges found the strong employee advocacy of the programme impressive, alongside its 93% net promoter score. 

  • Arowana
  • NHS Midlands and Lancashire CSU
  • Travis Perkins

Best Flexible Working Strategy


Winner: British Heart Foundation

During the Covid-19 outbreak, British Heart Foundation (BHF) lost nearly £30 million income, was forced into massive redundancies and a hiring freeze, and shifted largely out of its offices into homeworking. To reconnect with its employees, it held a listening event with multiple focus groups, where it found most employees wanted to have hybrid roles. It downsized its London office and redesigned its in-person working habits, with 95% of previous office workers now work on a hybrid contract. Judges were particularly impressed by the strategy’s inclusion of champions and the D&I employee resource group celebrating the charity’s clear link to organisational values.

  • Allianz
  • NHS Midlands and Lancashire CSU
  • KFC (UKI)

HR Future Leader 2022

Winner: Ben Wrigley, Wincanton

Despite Ben Wrigley only being at Wincaton for a year and a half, his undying focus, energy and care for colleagues has meant he’s had a huge impact. Wrigley’s passion is extraordinary, and his focus on new training courses and early mediated has created a strong employee relations culture. Judges said Wrigley is clearly built to be an inspirational HR leader.

  • Charlotte Barclay, APAM
  • Charlie Robson, McKenzie Intelligence Services

Best People-Focused CEO Of The Year 2022

Winner: Tracy Garrad, AXA Health

AXA Health’s Tracy Garrad has proved without doubt she knows what it takes to put people first.
Tracy has pushed a number of high profile initiatives for her employees and is a passionate proponent of diversity and inclusion, particularly for staff with caring responsibilities. For her exceptional leadership through a period of upheaval not limited to the pandemic; her continued dedication to championing D&I and social mobility and the way she inspires those around her, Garrad truly deserves commendation.

  • Charmaine Griffiths, British Heart Foundation
  • Lucy-Marie Hagues, Capital One UK
  • Daniel Rabie, GetBusy
  • Beatriz Shorrock, Marlowe Software, Risk and Compliance
  • Jo Williams, The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • James Wroath, Wincanton

Best Crisis Management Strategy

Winner: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development 

EBRD’s swift and exemplary action to protect its Ukrainian employees following the country’s invasion in February made the bank a clear winner. Crisis response is built into the bank’s structure, with a dedicated crisis management team (CMT) headed up by the bank’s chief risk officer and representation from across the business. It was quick to remove employees from dangerous locations, and offered generous support packages for those who had left their homes. Judges said the strategy as a strong, confident and contemporary case study, recommending those wanting to learn how to handle a crisis should read it well. 

  • BDO UK
  • TalkTalk
HR Team of the Year 2022

Winner: Wincanton

Logistics company Wincanton has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic against huge challenges such as skills shortages and an ageing workforce. Its HR team has dedicated itself to developing diverse talent, building on its apprenticeship strategy and overseeing significant growth through acquisition. Judges were impressed with Wincanton’s well-articulated people strategy and commitment to succession planning.

Highly commended: Saga Group

  • Immediate Media
  • N Brown Group
  • Saga Group
  • UK Export Finance
HR Director of the Year 2022

Winner: Carol-Ann White, Landor & Fitch

Landor & Fitch’s Carol-Ann White has helped transform the organisation’s people proposition, with plenty of examples of her creative approach throughout the business. White has been committed to creating a brilliant inclusive hiring strategy that has seen the company leverage detailed data to ensure representation at every stage in the hiring process. Due to her work on culture, 90% of employees agree that they can be themselves at work. And it’s Whites innovation and agility which really impressed the judges.

Highly commended: Teresa Exelby, Community Integrated Care

  • Joe Dent, Princes
  • Maria Hawley, Fisher German
  • Kate Howdon, eStar Truck & Van
  • Corinne Mills, Alzheimer’s Society
  • Phil Rimmer, Slater Helis
  • Victoria Soormally, Gallagher
  • Emma Simpson, Gleneagles 
  • John Stewart, SSE