GRC in conversation with Alan Price, CEO, Croner

Written by
Changeboard Team

28 Apr 2017

28 Apr 2017 • by Changeboard Team

Croner has a long history operating in the legal, HR and compliance market. The organisation was founded in 1941 with the name Croner Publications Limited and in 1947 it launched the seminal HR bible ‘The Reference Book for Employers’. In 1997,  Croner introduced consultancy services, before adding the software, pay and benefits service in 2003.

To date, Croner supports thousands of organisations with HR, Health & Safety, Tax, and Pay & Benefits as well as REC members. Croner has over 200 employees in the Hinckley head office, 80 regionally across the UK with plans for 50 new roles in Manchester and Scotland recently announced. 

1. 2016 was a turbulent year for society. In a climate of ever-increasing uncertainty, how do you keep your people motivated? What do you see as your personal role in doing this?

I see it as extremely important to support and motivate employees as much as possible. Because of this, I ensure that I hold regular company-wide ‘town hall’ events, and I personally recognise hard work that is prevalent throughout the company. We reward employees of the month from each of our seven departments with an annual foreign conference up for grabs too! Our annual awards evening really gives me an opportunity to reward the right behaviours. During the town hall events, I make a point of involving all members of staff and communicating where the company is heading and latest business and service developments. We hold quarterly sales conferences to recognise sales achievement and remind our sales teams of exciting incentives, the most recent of which includes an all-expenses paid company trip to Monaco for top performers.

We operate an open door policy at Croner, so all levels of seniority are approachable for staff. I’m in the office as much as possible, working among the teams. I think we are lucky to have a lot of self-motivated employees. We implement new activities, incentives and rewards to ensure this motivation never diminishes. This year Best Companies recognised Croner as ‘one to watch’ for 2017. Our Glassdoor reviews show a real insight into the organisation I am fortunate to lead. 

2. Can you talk about some initiatives you are driving within your business to inspire the next generation and ensure your own talent pipeline is fit for purpose?

We have a dedicated in house talent team to source new talent with a balanced talent pipeline of experienced professionals, graduates and apprentices. Given the fast pace and dynamic working environment at Croner, people are encouraged and supported on a daily basis.

Our development programmes include a ‘Next Step’ programme for aspiring managers as well as development programmes for graduates or those leaving in hour compliance roles. I make a point to include a range of people in our executive leadership team meetings so that all voices are heard and the next generation have guidance, and we have a senior management programme, which gives people further business and management knowledge for future leadership. There is always opportunity for progression within the organisation, and promotion is not a rare occurrence, so seeing peers ascend in the workplace, I find, really encourages others. I communicate and work closely with all of the teams, which makes it easier to observe the talent pipeline and plan for the future.

3. How have the needs of the workforce changed in recent years and what are you doing as a business to respond to these?

For me, technology has been one of the main developments in recent times. The introduction of smart phones and other devices has certainly manipulated the behaviour and habits of today’s workforce.

More time is now spent online than ever before. This is positive for organisations with regard to communication, accessibility, brand awareness but certain policies and procedures have had to be tailored to remind employees of their conduct and behaviour online. We really encourage our employees to make the most of online platforms, i.e. LinkedIn, Facebook and even put on training sessions and webinars to educate and support employees. Our clients now engage on these same platforms. 

4. What is your overarching aim for your business this year from a people perspective and what will it take to achieve this ambition?

Following our recent announcement regarding 50 new jobs in Glasgow and Manchester, my aim is to expand across the UK and invest further in our talent development pipeline.

Our second next step leaders' programme has been launched with a significant number of applications. Our recent announcement revealed our £2 million investment in our recruitment plan so my aim for this year is to ensure that this is worthwhile investment and presents a very successful outcome for Croner as well as the individuals concerned.

Our employees’ expertise in their respective areas is word-class and the best in the industry, so I strive to recognise and further invest in their personal professional development, to retain and attract future leaders. We must demonstrate what we deliver to clients, great commercially focused HR and compliance services. 

5. There is a lot of talk about AI / robotics / automation and how this will affect the workforce in years to come. How is this impacting you? Can you talk about some ways that technology is positively impacting your strategy?

We are hosting a UK HR Leaders’ Summit at the end of June regarding the future world of work, which the CIPD, NHS, ACAS and Kevin Green, chief executive of the REC will be speaking on this topic; it’s an area Croner has invested with regards to its software development.

We continually invest in customer relationship management software, digital marketing and the big data insight this provides. Automated data insights are having a significant, positive impact and providing more information about client engagement and characteristics than ever before, which is invaluable. It helps us to develop our future strategy and gain clearer insights on where our focus needs to be.


6. What are your expectations for the future of work what other changes do you anticipate in the coming years and how can business leaders prepare for these?

I think the trend of ambition will continue, meaning that business leaders need to attract, encourage and develop new skills and mentalities in the workplace and retain their key talent. In addition, I believe that technology will continue to mould the needs of employees and clients alike which organisations will need to cater for internally and externally.

Brexit is, without a doubt, one of the most unexpected events of recent years, so I know that this will have a significant influence over the future of work. We have already seen an ascent of enquiries regarding Brexit, so as the proposed changes begin to translate into working reality, it’s likely that many new challenges and learning curves will present themselves to business leaders. I think the key is to remain attentive to legislative updates, and to seek advice where necessary to ensure the correct steps are taken and best practice is followed.