Congratulations to the winners of the HR Excellence Awards 2023

HR Magazine is delighted to announce the winners of the HR Excellence Awards 2023. 

Scroll down to see the full list of the winners.

Best Learning and Development Strategy

Winner: Dishoom

Following on from the chaos of the pandemic, Dishoom set out an expansion plan to boost its recruitment and train up new recruits faster.

The HR team developed a new model to aid new starters with hands-on training, feedback systems and an engaging mix of content styles to make sure every new employee felt supported.

Onboarding 846 new starters in the two years since launch, Dishoom has doubled in size.

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with 98% of new starters rating their onboarding experience positively.

Judges were impressed by the meticulous attention to detail of Dishoom’s HR team and the successful expansion of the trial.


  • Addleshaw Goddard
  • Circle Health Group
  • Equiniti
  • Weir Minerals Group

Best Talent Management Strategy

Winner: Dentsu

Dentsu’s decision to map the talents of its entire global organisation was a huge ask.  Its HR team worked with hundreds of employees to develop a career framework and created a talent mapping model.

It then created development streams for different levels in the business, with astounding results. 60% of employees on the programme had career progression in just 12 months and employees became much more engaged.

Judges praised the creative and impressive strategy, and its ability to continuously meet business goals.


  • Hallmark Care Homes
  • KellyDeli
  • Weir Minerals Group

Best Transformation Strategy


Winner: First Bus UK

First Bus UK has transformed from an operational, asset-driven business to one that puts its people first.

The team has introduced quarterly engagement surveys and a brand-new approach to appraisals with feedback sessions.

Shorter working days, more breaks and a new uniform were all introduced as a result of the sessions.

Engagement has leapt from 44% to 57% in 15 months, alongside an increased retention rate.

Judges described the strategy as effective and impactful.

  • eStar Truck & Van
  • Forterro
  • Well Pharmacy

Best Health and Wellbeing Strategy, Large Organisation
sponsored by Health and Wellbeing @ Work

Winner: Correla

In a bid to improvement its recruitment drive, Correla decided to pursue an ambitious health and wellbeing strategy.

In the last few years, it has introduced all manner of policies across four areas of wellbeing: mental, physical, financial and social.

The changes have proved massively popular among its workforce, with one employee calling them “lifechanging”.

One judge even said it was their favourite submission across all categories.


  • Arqiva
  • Biffa
  • Suez Recycling and Recovery UK

Best Diversity and Inclusion Strategy

Winner: Wincanton

Wincanton has dedicated itself to changing the logistics sector, and stripping back its reputation as a traditional, male-dominated industry.

 As one of the UK’s largest logistics firms, the team decided it should set a new standard for the industry. 

Wincanton appointed its first diversity and inclusion manager and drew up a long-term D&I strategy.

It has appointed executive sponsors for protected groups, launched a CEO-chaired diversity steering group, recruited site-based D&I champions to embed new policies, and rolled out training across the company. 

Since the start of its D&I strategy, Wincanton has seen a 28% uplift in the number of women it employs, and a massive 76% increase in employees from an ethnic minority background. 


  • Dorchester Collection
  • First Bus UK
  • Lloyds Banking Group
  • Oyster Partnership
  • Raytheon UK
  • St Modwen

Best Health and Wellbeing Strategy, SME sponsored by Health and Wellbeing @ Work 

Winner: Dare International

In the past 18 months, Dare International has upgraded all 25 of its wellbeing policies, and has built 13 new policies that it will add by the end of 2023.

This includes enhanced maternity and adoption leave policies, which lead the industry with six months’ full pay and six months’ half pay. 

The strategy has driven a leap in engagement and productivity, and the firm’s graduate trading programme boasts a 90% retention rate in an industry renowned for high staff turnover. 

Judges praised the personal, tailored high end strategy, describing it as a quality approach.

  • Dishoom
  • Phase 3
  • Pollinate International

Best Early Careers Strategy


Winner: Mitie

When Mitie – one of the UK’s largest facilities management company and employer to 68,000 – realised that it faced a critical skills gap in its engineering business, driven by a wave of retirements and an ageing engineer population, it sprang into action. 

Just months after identifying the problem, Mitie’s Engineering Apprenticeship Academy launched: onboarding over 150 engineering apprentices in its two years of existence, and expected to take on another 100 before the next financial year. 

90% of apprentices that have joined since 2020 are still employed by Mitie and 100% of those completing the programme have been offered a job. 

The scheme has proved so popular that two other businesses within Mitie have identified skills challenges and copied the programme, launching their own schemes. 

  • Amey
  • Ontic
  • Tata Consultancy Services

Best Internal Communications Strategy

Winner: Biffa

Biffa has created an employee-centric campaign to keep employees focussed on the importance of health and safety.

The communications team changed their strategy, launching issue-based campaigns with personal stories.

Engagement with communications have skyrocketed – but, most importantly, there has been an 18% reduction in lost time injuries. Judges said the topic could have been a dry subject, but Biffa has made sure employees stay safe thanks to the power of its communications.

  • Auto Trader
  • Gallagher Benefits Services

Best Employee Engagement Strategy

Winner: Equiniti

When Equiniti was bought by US private equity group Siris Capital in 2021, it faced an unprecedented transformation. 

Change was needed, which led to a new CEO, a new vision, business strategy and people agenda.  

Equiniti launched a global colleague forum, which nurtures colleague networks and employee resource groups and amplifies their voices, encourages engagement planning at a team level, strengthens communications channels, and introduces new tech to support it all. 
Engagement scores have jumped year-on-year, with Equiniti’s net promoter score leaping from -38 in 2021, to +20 in 2023.


  • Aldermore Group
  • The Belfry Hotel & Resort
  • Capgemini
  • HSBC Legal
  • Lloyds Banking Group
  • Sopra Steria

Best Reward and Recognition Strategy 

Winner: Alzheimer's Society

Following the pandemic, the Alzheimer’s Society’s HR team leapt into action with a crisis support package. It developed a scheme of 1,700 lump-sum payments and created a hardship scheme.

New benefits were introduced, and a second lump sum was delivered later in the year.

The employee feedback spoke for itself, with one recipient of the hardship fund writing: “What a fantastic place we work at! Such a weight has been lifted.” 

Judges praised how the team designed the strategy and its return on investment.

Highly Commended: Roadchef

  • The First Mile
  • Suez Recycling & Recovery UK

Best ESG Strategy

Winner: Triodos Bank UK

Triodos Bank UK is one of the world’s first environmentally and socially sustainable bank. It only invests companies and charities that have a positive ecological and societal impact.  

The bank tied together 84 recommendations into a strategy that has transformed the company’s approach to HR, building ESG directly into its people processes. 

 It now has a net zero strategy for 2035 that includes its entire investment portfolio, and its office hardware is chosen for its environmental credentials.

Highly Commended: First Bus UK 

  • Findel
  • Landor
  • Mitie
  • ScottishPower 

Best HR Technology Strategy

Winners: Suez  Recycling and Recovery UK

Suez’s HR team completely remapped its payroll and payslip process and invested in new technology system meaning employees felt empowered to take responsibility for their personal data, HR admin and overtime claims.

Within three months, Suez had no incoming pay queries and data capture means the HR team can direct its strategy more efficiently.

Judges hailed the strategy’s “transformational” effect, complimenting its reduction in both error and carbon footprint.

  • Dishoom
  • Lloyds Banking Group
  • Snowflake

Best Recruitment and Workforce Planning Strategy


Winner: Leeds Community Healthcare

Leeds Community Healthcare switched up its recruitment strategy by targeting low-income areas close to its vacant roles, helping to change peoples’ lives by giving them secrete work, cut its turnover rates and help patients.

The results were astronomical. Over 130 hires were made in just over 18 months, with a third of those recruited previously unemployed and 6% coming off zero-hour contracts. 

Leeds Community Healthcare can now offer a better service, make faster hires and fill difficult vacancies thanks to its creative approach. 

  • Somerset Passenger Solutions
  • Webhelp
  • Wincanton

Best Flexible Working Strategy


Winner: British Transport Police

The British Transport Police created a system where staff could choose fixed, blended or home-working locations.

 Since flexible working was introduced, the service has seen a reduction of over 12,000 sickness and special leave days, equating to over £3m in staff time. It has also made retention and recruitment easier, while opening up the talent pool beyond London for more senior roles. 

Judges praised the British Transport Police’s robust, measurable approach, and confident investment in appropriate equipment and training. 

  • Arqiva
  • Sysdoc

HR Future Leader 2023
sponsored by Investors in People

Winner: Charlotte Wakeham, Royal Mail

Charlotte Wakeham joined Royal Mail as a postie aged 19. After just 11 years – and five promotions – she is now national head of future talent for its150,000 employees.  

She has worked on a number of successful projects, including revitalising the company’s graduate programme, building a degree apprenticeship strategy and rewriting the early careers strategy.

Judges were impressed with Wakeham’s passion, energy, and drive.

 One said: “A fantastic and impressive impact. She is a credible and diligent HR Future Leader of the Year.” 

  • Marina Kawarazaki, Dorchester Collection
  • Emma Locke, Perfetti Van Melle
  • Shirley Marshall, RCI Europe
  • Trudi Parr, Mollie’s Motels

Best People-Focused CEO Of The Year 2023

Winner: Angela Cretu, Avon

Avon CEO Angela Cretu is totally invested in her people, fired by a genuine zeal and real faith in the company’s mission.

Whether talking to employees, or representing them in the national media, she has given them a leader visibly energised by the issues that Avon cares so much about.

 Her achievements – including the reduction of Avon’s gender pay gap to just 0.79%, her construction of a 51.7% female leadership team, and a reward strategy that sees every associate paid their region’s Living Wage, at minimum – left the judges awed.

  • Steve Bridge, eStar Truck & Van
  • Fiona Logan, Insights Learning & Development
  • Mark Pesco, IQ-EQ
  • David Sheperd, IAG Cargo
  • Jonathan Smith, APC Overnight

HR Consultancy of the Year 

Winner: People Station 

People Station’s partnership with IT company Miss Group is exactly the kind of consulting helping to transform the HR profession’s image. 

Engaged with a wide remit to revitalise Miss Group’s vision, mission and values, People Station has managed to instill the organisation with a positive, forward-thinking and people-first ethic that has produced consistent growth in revenue, profit and engagement. 

Judges were impressed with the initiative’s strong cost savings and business-linked goals.  

  • Clover HR
  • Personal Group
HR Team of the Year, Large Organisation 2023 sponsored by Safecall

Winner: Atlas

Atlas Hotels has transformed its HR function thanks to a number of impressive strategies.  

It has improved its recruitment rates, with applicant numbers rising by 160%. It has also introduced a new HR information system and automated manual processes to improve efficiency.

The HR team has managed to boost engagement significantly at the hotel, shattering targets through targeted coaching of managers, reward and recognition strategies, communication and improved pay. 

 It is no surprise, then, that the judges recognised the mighty efforts of this small team.

One said: “What an amazing journey, in such tough times with very little resources.”  

  • Alzheimer’s Society
  • Circle Health Group
  • First Bus UK
  • Team17 Digital
  • Zen Internet
HR Director of the Year 2023 sponsored by Sage

Winner: Kate Clay, eStar Truck & Van

Kate Clay has transformed eStar Truck & Van, immediately bringing payroll in-house and updating HR’s systems.

She has introduced a range of benefits, made the business case for cost of living pay rises and driven a full salary review.

83% of staff now say they are proud to work at eStar, with 93% saying they get on with their manager.

Judges were blown away by Clay’s efforts. One said: “Her imagination, ethics and drive make her a clear choice out of an extremely strong crowd.” 

  • Lis Allen, Accord Healthcare
  • David Cooper, Circle Health Group
  • Rich Hughes, M247
  • Corinne Mills, Alzheimer’s Society
  • Ayshea Robertson, Zen Internet
  • Mike Williams, KellyDeli

HR Team of the Year 2023, SME

Winner: British Society of Rheumatology

The British Society of Rheumatology’s HR team gave each member of its workforce an opportunity to reshape its people strategy.

Targeting engagement, burnout, and employee experience, the team worked hard and fast to improve its colleagues’ lives. 

It also created peer support networks, cut working hours and refreshed its diversity programme.

96% of staff now feel they have ownership over their objectives and the number of staff happy with their work/life balance has jumped from 72% to 96%.  

  • Complete Technology Group
  • KellyDeli
  • M247