Five Minutes With… Gill Laws, HR Co-Ordinator
We sit down for a chat with Gill Laws, our HR Co-Ordinator, to learn about her role at urbanbubble, how it’s evolved and what makes her tick.
Tell us about your role at urbanbubble
As the company’s HR Co-Ordinator, I’m responsible for overseeing the fast-growing team at urbanbubble. This starts right at recruitment – as internal staff are promoted, we’re constantly interviewing candidates for new roles, and inducting new starters.
I also manage and update the urbanbubble HR database, training staff how to use it and building functions into the system to ensure that it meets the evolving needs of the business.
How long have you been with urbanbubble?
Although I’ve been with urbanbubble for about three years, my role as HR Co-Ordinator is relatively new. I took on the position at the start of 2017; there’s been a lot to learn, but I’m really enjoying it so far.
What’s your background?
Initially, I joined the company as an Assistant Property Manager, dealing with any enquiries, requests and maintenance issues that came in from our properties and leaseholders. Then, when urbanbubble moved into a bigger office 18 months later, an opportunity arose to become a Bubble Ambassador.
As my background is in hospitality, I’ve always loved greeting people and looking after a team, so I decided to take up the position for a new challenge. However, since I started in early 2016, urbanbubble has grown significantly (from 85 to 120 staff this year alone) and so have my responsibilities.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
One of the biggest changes we’ve made since I started in the role has been the new Cloud HR system, which went live in March. Previously, we would have to record data in two different spreadsheets. This was not only time-consuming; it also brought the risk of double-booking time off, which would obviously impact our operations.
I was involved in choosing a Cloud software solution that would meet the growing needs of the business, and we’re really pleased with the system we’ve put in place. Now it’s easy for anyone to access and update HR records with the touch of a button.
The system is incredibly versatile. Beyond the standard HR functions, it has digital reporting, recruitment features, a ‘good news’ forum, an organisational chart with everyone’s pictures and contact details and much more. As such, it’s had a huge impact on the company and has been received well by staff.
How does urbanbubble promote wellness at work?
We’ve tried lots of initiatives over the years to engage and reward staff. We used to have a magazine that updated staff with good news, which has now been carried over into the forum.
However, we recognised that positive feedback is best received in person, which is why we now hold a get-together on the last Friday of each month. ‘Good News Friday’ is a chance for everyone to share their successes on-site and off-site, and it’s a great way to round off the month.
Going forward, we are also going to be using our HR system to recognise and reward employees who are meeting company values, linking these to badges that can then be mentioned on Good News Friday.
To underpin this culture, we have trialled several initiatives to promote wellness at work; our latest introduction is complementary reflexology treatments, held in the library once a quarter to combat stress and boost the wellbeing of staff. We also ran Yoga every Friday morning for 9 months but this ended recently as the 7am start wasn’t appealing to all. We also actively encourage the team to use the Bike to Work Scheme and everyone gets their Birthday off at urbanbubble and sent to the Mere Spa for a day of pampering with a loved one.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
Getting to grips with the system, mainly because we’ve had to set it up and learn how to use it from scratch. The system is so comprehensive that it’s taken time to build the functions so that we’re making the most of it.
We’ve put a lot of work into perfecting the system since March, but it’s finally getting there and is now saving a lot of time and hassle within the business. It’s been a challenge getting the system to do exactly what we want, but I’ve enjoyed it.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I like the variety that it gives: no two days are ever the same. One minute I can be recruiting for a new role, the next I might be writing a press release. Becoming the HR Co-Ordinator has given me more responsibilities, which makes my job more interesting.
As I’ve worked in other positions within the company, I’ve come to know the core of the business really well. It means I can empathise with the good and challenging bits of our employees’ roles, which makes it easier to identify pressures and deal with them effectively.
When you’re not at work, how do you unwind?
I’m a big outdoors fan, and love going camping and Nordic walking at the weekend. I’ve converted our van into a mini camper, complete with a bed, awning etc, which makes for a few home comforts when I go away!