The Bristol-based franchise will become an employee ownership trust (EOT) from 1 November, encompassing all of its national businesses, its central franchise operation and The Health and Safety Dept.
Founder Sue Tumelty said the move would safeguard the vision and culture of the business, which began offering HR services franchising in 2003. It now has more than 100 franchises in the UK and Ireland, as well as a franchise operation in Australia.
“Over the years I’ve considered many options for a succession plan but all options which presented themselves have failed to protect the unique culture and values we have in our business,” she said.
“I’m really proud of what we’ve generated and it was vital for me that it continued.”
The move will make The HR Dept one of more than 730 employee-owned companies in the UK.
Employee ownership is thought to drive engagement as staff feel a strong connection with building success and profit. The Employee Ownership Association argues that employee ownership can “deliver greater economic impact for individuals, businesses and regional economies”.
The HR Dept’s trustee board will include Tumelty, non-executive director Keith Sadler, managing director Felicity Kenny, finance director Lian McQuade and directors Helen Thomas and Stacey Mead. Sadler will become CEO and chair of the EOT from its inception. An independent solicitor from Ashfords will also join the trust to ensure it operates in the interests of employees.
“It maintains our USPs and brand identity, it protects the jobs of our employees and gives them an incentive in the future growth of the business,” Tumelty added.
“Handing the business over to people I trust is really important to me. Over the years I’ve received advice from left, right and centre on how to transition to direct ownership, but none of it has come from people I think had the best interests of the business at heart.”
Deb Oxley, CEO of the Employee Ownership Association, said: “Employee ownership is a highly flexible and successful business structure and we congratulate Sue and the leadership of The HR Dept for taking this step.
“Businesses that give employees a stake and a say build trust and shared responsibility, therefore uniting leaders and employees behind a common purpose. This leaves the business in a better position to flex and adapt as the economy looks to recover and renew.”