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Empowering firms to thrive in an employees’ world

In a landscape of exponential employee empowerment, never has the need for potent people management been more necessary. And helping companies ensure the two marry together is The Endeavour Partnership. Here, Steven Hugill speaks to Laura Wilson, a senior associate in the Stockton-based firm’s employment law and HR team, to learn more about its HR Conversations initiative, which combines peer-to-peer collaboration with invaluable practical support.


In times of challenge, we’re all appreciative of an empathetic ear.

Businesses, of course, are no different. 

And in today’s unpredictable commercial environment, where rising financial forces collide with increasing employee empowerment – and the robust people management frameworks they command – a sympathetic shoulder has arguably never been more important.

Relief then for The Endeavour Partnership, which is combining its place as Tees Valley’s largest independent commercial law firm with a concerted embracing of employers’ shifting needs.

A central plank of this is the Stockton-based operator’s fixed-fee, customisable Navigate HR support suite, which guides businesses of all sizes through day-to-day employment law and HR-related issues to business immigration, data protection, management training and employment documentation.

Equally fundamental is its HR Conversations programme.

Launched late last year as a Navigate offshoot, it melds perception with practicality, using quarterly, Chatham House-style, peer-to-peer breakfast gatherings and associated workshops to catalyse notable transformation across HR practice.

“Employees are an absolute asset within a business, but many are facing up to great challenges in a massively changing market,” says Laura Wilson, a senior associate in The Endeavour Partnership’s employment law and HR team.

“And that was the basis for HR Conversations’ founding.

“Bringing our clients together, as a sounding board, has allowed us to build so many fantastic relationships, and HR Conversations is now helping build relationships between clients.

“And from those, we were increasingly finding clients – no matter their sector or size – were coming up against the same issues.

“So we thought, ‘why not get HR professionals together in the same place, to share ideas, insights and tips?’

“We lead on topics, but events are very much driven by what clients wish to discuss – and they have been very well received.

“People have made connections they wouldn’t otherwise have done, and we’ve seen a number stay after events to chat further with peers.” 

“They appreciate the learning but also the reassurance provided by HR Conversations that they’re not on their own facing certain issues, and it leaves them feeling empowered to make positive change,” adds Laura, who is also a business immigration specialist.

Each gathering hangs on a topical hook, with the first analysing HR’s inherent place within firms’ recruitment and retention strategies and a more recent session looking at leadership, in particular the importance of arming bosses with requisite people management skills as they climb the ladder.

Laura says: “HR is playing a massive role within organisations as employee markets evolve, with HR professionals now having a seat at the table to help deliver quite different strategies.

“And, as a firm, we are proud to be part of that change.

“Through HR Conversations, we’ve helped clients come up with new ideas and areas for potential change, like ensuring the right flexibility exists alongside additional benefits – which aren’t always financial – to ensure staff are happy and comfortable.

“And we’ve looked at the importance of not just maintaining conversation but being transparent in communication; if employees can buy into a firm’s activity, it provides much better scope for their retention.”

Laura adds: “And this is equally key when looking at managers.

“HR professionals are great at managing people, but gaps still exist when it comes to some managers.

“A person in a senior position has got there because they’re great at their job, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re great at managing people.

“Others, too, can find management quite daunting, given they were once part of the team they’re now supervising.”

And such limitations, says Laura, are only further amplified when emotionally charged HR processes, such as disciplinary measures, and performance and salary reviews, are factored into the equation.

To address such, The Endeavour Partnership provides management training support, which allows participants to tackle real-world challenges – such as a previously-held mock employment tribunal – to sharpen knowledge and effect subsequent learnings in the workplace. 

Laura says: “We’re working with HR professionals and their managers on what can be difficult conversations.

“No two situations will ever be the same, but by upskilling through live experiences, we are helping clients create consistent approaches that empower managers and make them feel much more comfortable and enabled to do their jobs.”

The firm’s experts will lead on this later this year, with a masterclass on the disciplinary process – diarised after being identified as a key topic by HR Conversations’ participants – planned for Yarm School, on October 24.

Laura says: “You can read about maintaining professionalism in a book, but seeing something first-hand, like the body language of a meeting’s chairperson, provides much more insight.

“The workshop will set a fictional disciplinary issue, with our experiences as a firm used to frame allegations and lay out the process’ different steps.

“And because of that, it will include issues we see regularly – like an employee apportioning blame to others, or wanting to be accompanied by a person who cannot be involved in the process – to reflect reality.”

Laura adds: “We help clients facilitate change, but we go beyond what is expected.

“Our expert support, through programmes like HR Conversations, meets clients’ unique needs and ultimately puts them on a path towards success.”