Strategic HRM in Practice: Case Study

G’s Fresh Group and the Farm of the Future

Brown D |   | Institute for Employment Studies | May 2020

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This is the latest case study in our Strategic HRM in Practice project which aims to research whether and how employers are making a strategic approach to people management a successful reality in today’s fast moving and challenging contexts. Our qualitative case study work on this project has been designed to address the ‘how’ questions in this research: How did you develop the HRM strategy? How did you decide what to include and prioritise? How well is it working in practice? How can it be improved?.

The original research included five case study employers from different sectors and the varied methods they are using to achieve a return on their investments in staff. We are now incrementally adding new cases to further illustrate different and evolving strategic approaches to people management.

This new report features G’s Fresh, one of the UK’s largest fresh food growers. The farming sector is not perhaps the first place you might look for examples of leading-edge, strategic HR management practice, with a popular image of small-scale production and low cost, often migrant labour. G’s Group, a £500 million turnover, fully vertically integrated, major group of family farming businesses, very much belies that image with an innovation and technology led, but most of all people and purpose-focused, approach.

With over 7000 employees at peak harvest periods, the Group HR function has used its expertise in successfully planning and delivering a labour supply, overcoming challenges such as the current lockdown, to lead in the delivery of  the group’s ‘PPV’ (Promise, Philosophy and Values) which underpins their business and HR success. The HR team have grabbed the opportunities to challenge and change the Group culture, to drive the farming of the future agenda; and to improve the image of the Group and the wider sector as an employer and community partner, becoming a national leader in their ethics and anti-slavery activity.

As Beverly Dixon, Group HR Director, told our researchers:

‘Farming today is an innovative and capital-intensive industry, but it has not been seen as a great place to work. We are changing that and traditional opinions and practices, growing through a balance of in-house development and recruitment from outside the sector to get the best out of our people, to their benefit and that of all of our stakeholders.’

We will be updating this case study later in the year to reflect how G’s HRM strategy has adapted to the current Covid-19 crisis.