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Business & Economy

Five minutes with… Nicky Jolley

Nicky Jolley is managing director of HR2day, the Darlington-based provider of human resources support to firms across the North East and beyond. Here, she tells Steven Hugill about the company’s growth, why HR is far more than a perceived box-ticking exercise, and why, despite its continued expansion, the business will never lose its personal touch.


The business has been providing clients with HR support for more than a decade. Can you explain a little about the company and its development?

HR2day provides effective, bespoke HR solutions for small-to-medium-sized businesses employing between five and 150 people, operating in the North East and throughout the wider UK. 

We help business owners and managers stay compliant with HR law, inspire their teams, get HR problems solved and have the paperwork done for them.

We have evolved since we started in 2010, building a strong core team of experts. 

We maintain client relationships by working with management teams and understanding their day-to-day issues, and have an excellent understanding of their long-term strategy.  

Our main service is a retained HR support, wherein we help clients with all HR needs, from providing options of advice, drafting documents to the point of print and supporting companies and managers to end results, for the full life cycle of employees. 


What benefits do firms gain from ensuring robust HR practices are in place?

Strong HR frameworks are essential to a well-run business. 

They help protect a company and its employees, and provide boundaries to all but, more importantly, provide consistency to all employees. 

Having these policies and procedures can reduce victimisation and inconsistency, allowing the company to be transparent.

Such practices also reassure employees the company is committed to getting things right and will treat them fairly and appropriately. 

Having clear and documented procedures will also support the company should they end up in a tribunal, where evidence will be crucial. 

However, it is not enough for organisations to just have these policies in place – it is important they follow them too. 

We have seen businesses that, from the outside, appear to have solid HR foundations.

But, when looking behind the curtain, the rules have started to slip, and this can have a negative impact and increase risk for employers should they find themselves in a legal dispute. 


The post-pandemic landscape continues to bring much greater demand for employee empowerment. How important, therefore, is it that firms’ HR strategies are attuned to this trend?

Considering employee empowerment and having flexible and transparent policies could help with attracting new employees. 

They provide boundaries and clarity of options available to everyone while also supporting managers to make fair and consistent decisions.

For example, many people found working from home was beneficial to their employment/life balance and, if they were parents, to their childcare needs. 

Post-pandemic, many organisations have introduced a hybrid work policy, meaning child-free employees are not excluded from flexible working arrangements that were previously only really accessible to parents. 


HR doesn’t always get a warm welcome in some quarters, mainly due to outdated preconceptions of its functions. How do you tackle stereotypes around HR and promote its importance to a business?

HR is seen as an expensive cost until things go wrong.

It then becomes an essential resource, which is relied upon to resolve miscommunication, poor management and lack of feedback. 

We’re essentially like the Highway Code and car insurance rolled into one – we set out clear rules and guidance and we help put things right when they go wrong. 

Most issues in the workplace could be resolved with mutual communication and understanding, but emotions get in the way, and it becomes personal. 

HR removes the personal aspect and enables problems to be dealt with in an unemotional and fair way. 

Preventing issues from escalating can save a company a fortune, while also mitigating problems before they reach the tribunal stage.

When HR is worked with as a partner, rather than treated as an unnecessary drain on financial resources, it can create a productive and effective environment for everyone.

HR initiatives should be integrated and involved in companies’ long-term strategies to support their futures and prepare workforces with development and preparation.


What does the future hold for HR2day?

More organisations are outsourcing HR as a cost-effective option, rather than employing an in-house person or team. 

This is because it offers a broader range of skills, due to a whole team working on clients’ accounts, rather than one person. 

We do have clients we work very closely with, and are on site with regularly, but the majority work with us to ensure they are compliant and have someone to help should problems arise.  

We have plans to grow the business, but never to a size that loses its personal touch, because we always want to work closely with – and know – our clients. 

We will never become so big it feels like a call centre.

We want our clients to feel like we are part of their team, not that they’re just a number.

We’re there to advise, guide and support them every step of the way.