Lucy Adams
July 14, 2020
Reading time: 10 minutes
Share this post:

Better Normal Award Winners

We have a winner! Well, actually we have five winners! Five HR teams who have shown amazing resilience, innovation and agility. Five companies who have used the crisis to make lasting changes in how they deliver HR.

We had loads of fantastic entries – thanks so much to all of you who took the time to tell us about your incredible changes to HR.

These were the five that stood out with the five runners up because the standard was so high.

The ‘God, it’s got be changed to virtual!’ Award

Winner: Bacardi for their fantastic range of virtual support

Bacardi had over 10,000 hits on their digital portal that they used to provide access to resources and tools. They provided over 30 support sessions on how to get through the crisis, encouraged their people to blog and provide podcasts on how to overcome the challenges and to focus on what they described as #NewBetter.

Runner Up: Lafarge Holcim for their move to virtual recruiting

Virtual interviews were never seen as an option, especially not for blue-collar workers as they were seen as “not digital enough”. And as they have 55 different locations in Switzerland, recruiting usually involves a lot of travel for HR. The crisis changed this almost overnight. Now they are doing virtual recruiting interviews for all positions, saving lots of travel time and costs for candidates, HR and line managers. And everyone likes it!

The ‘No-one’s missed this process’ Award

Winner: Kantar for showing there’s more to talent than the 9 Box Grid

Having assessed their annual talent review and discovered that it cost more than $1m for little follow-through, they decided to allow their leaders a choice of whether to continue with the 9-box grid or not. Only two leaders decided to stick with the old process, all the others are now coached by HR to have stay conversations with their people.

Runner Up: Xoserve for getting rid of appraisals

They have dumped their complex, subjective, time-consuming and demoralizing (their words!) annual Performance Management process and moved to a simple, agile framework that focuses on team OKRS that are set and reviewed regularly, and where the emphasis is on regular check-ins through 121s, team huddles and meetings rather than an end of year performance conversation.

The ‘Who knew our managers were this human?’ Award

Winner: ICI Pakistan for their innovative approach to leadership comms and engagement

ICI Pakistan used the lockdown to experiment with a wide range of leadership communications, including frequent 1-2-1 check-ins, the ‘rapid fire round’ where employees get to ask leaders a load of questions, virtual town halls, a focus on ‘reasons to be grateful’ sessions, personalised cards from the CEO, an incredible range of support tools including regular mood surveys and even celebrating religious festivals online!

Runner Up: Martin James Network for the role their managers played during the crisis

Managers created the Tribeout platform to offer free gym sessions every morning, fun sessions for employees’ kids, sessions on maintaining mental health and discussion forums to engage their people around the Black Lives Matter movement.

The “We’ve killed a stupid rule” Award

Winner:  XoServe for taking away punitive policies

They removed their commander-control people policies and brought in short principles instead, eliminating their 26 long, complicated policies to zero!

 Runner Up: Babcock for removing the six-month qualifying period for sick pay

In the spirit of a #betternormal, they reviewed their policy and now allow new staff to take full company sick pay from their start date.

The ‘It’s now better and cheaper!’ Award

Winner: Peabody for their changes to recruitment and onboarding

Peabody have made massive changes to their recruitment and onboarding as a result of the crisis and they’re not going back! They’ve started using Facebook and Instagram to recruit. They now recruit virtually for many roles using video assessments, supporting hiring managers and candidates with a short telephone screening guide and video interview preparation and guidance materials. During onboarding they introduced secure video calls for checking documents instead of asking candidates to submit them in person. They adapted their induction process to a digital format and now train their front-line staff through e-learning and 1-1 support. Plus, they developed their own YouTube channel with engaging videos and animations about the company! They’ve managed to increase the speed of recruiting, filled over 171 open vacancies they were previously struggling to fill and improved the experience for new recuits!

Runner Up: Robert Walters for moving their coaching support online

In-person coaching was always a priority for Robert Walters. They have moved it all online, providing support so managers and their people get the most from it – and changed it from two intensive days to shorter virtual sessions over a couple of months. They have increased the number of people that get coached, both managers and employees find it more meaningful and they’ve saved around £100k in travel costs!


Winners receive membership of the Disruptive HR Club (including all the Better Normal training sessions on changing HR) and a bag of Disruptive HR goodies. Runners up will get two free places on one of our Better Normal training sessions and a goody bag too!

Thanks again to all of you who entered – there were so many to choose from and we are SO proud of the way HR has stepped up during this crisis! Congratulations to all of you who are using this horrible time as the opportunity to create a better normal!

Get even more Disruptive HR content and join our Club – the go-to place for people who want to change HR!

Recent Posts


A look into our One Day Programmes!

November 8, 2023

It’s not often that you leave a working day full of energy, inspiration, and hope. Well, that’s what happened at our recent One Day Programme in London.


Why traditional performance management doesn’t work!

September 19, 2023

Annual objectives, once a year feedback and a rating. These traditional performance management tools belong to another era.


How to change our thinking in HR

August 14, 2023

Creating the head space to re-think your approach to HR can be hard. This blog provides some tips on changing our thinking in HR.