Suzy Blade, Head of HR at Setfords, is still ‘buzzing’ after winning the HR Professional of the Year Award at this year’s UK Company Culture Awards.
That moment her name was called out was the “biggest surprise ever” and “a complete shock”, she says – and as one of her colleagues who was sitting with her at the time (and is writing this post) I can confirm this is completely true.
For context, the ex-drama student in Suzy loves a bit of the spotlight. However, making a big deal of the great things she does at Setfords – which are many – is just not her thing. That shock was absolutely genuine, but perhaps not so much of a surprise for her colleagues and the senior management team.
Speaking of colleagues, Suzy is the first to acknowledge that her award may be focussed on one person, but it has taken a team to activate the varied work within the company. She is ably supported by HR Assistant at Setfords Daniella Lambert.
Add to that a roll-call of volunteers within the company who help to bring HR-driven activities, events and campaigns to life, many of whom take time out of their day (and in their spare time too) to participate in: The Green Team Committee; The Diversity Committee; and The Social Committee.
Proudest achievements for Suzy include encouraging the company to embrace mental health support by appointing seven Mental Health First Aiders who are on hand as needed, and available for dedicated private drop-in sessions.
It is fair to say that not much encouragement was needed, due to Co-CEOs (and cousins) Chris Setford and Guy Setford making sure that looking after people has been in the firm’s DNA since day one.
Among the many HR-driven activities that employees get to enjoy at Setfords are meditation sessions, webinars and events on wellness topics, opportunities to bring family members in for lunch and – often one of the most popular calming influences of all – having dogs in the office on Wednesdays, and occasionally more frequently.
At Christmas, we could take part in wreath making, and there is soon to be a pottery class, adding to an existing and popular monthly book club.
Most recently, there was a whole programme of events in support of Mental Health Awareness Week, delivered with the help of many teams and individuals across the business, which included a streamed TED Talk and Q&A about mental health over coffee and cake, and Operation Clean Up – with employees volunteering to join Suzy and pick up litter throughout Guildford town centre.
After collecting 20 bags of rubbish from around the town, everyone who took part agreed it had made them feel good.
Although Suzy is reserved about taking all the credit for her HR Professional of the Year Award, somebody always needs to galvanise people with passion, energy and commitment, plus some charm and a smile.
At Setfords, we all agree, she really deserved her win.
* Huge thanks to the UK Company Culture Awards judges for shining a spotlight on Suzy’s work, and also to the organisers for a great awards scheme and finale event. See you next year!