Tell us about your responsibilities, team and what your organisation does
With a ‘dual hat’ role as HR director for QVC UK, I support the UK CEO and the SVP for global brand and communications (based in Westchester, Pennsylvania). The UK HR team, which is 45 strong, supports both the UK market and some roles in the European and global teams.
At QVC, our HR function is global, operating in a matrix structure. We have HR Centres of Excellence for learning & development, talent acquisition, organisational effectiveness and employee relations in all markets, which report into the global Centre of Excellence leaders. In addition, each market has its own Employee Engagement team, while a global Team Member Experience team focuses on our global strategy for employee engagement. Some members of the UK HR team also have responsibilities across Europe, enabling them to specialise and broaden their skills across new markets and HR disciplines.
With 17,000 employees worldwide, QVC is the world's leading video and ecommerce retailer, offering a curated collection of desirable brands to millions of customers around the globe each day through broadcast, internet, and mobile sales platforms. QVC generated $8.7B in net revenue in 2015, of which $3.9B was from ecommerce.
In the UK, we have the largest TV shopping channel, three further standalone TV channels and an interactive website which incorporates live streaming of the TV channels.
What makes your organisation a top employer?
It’s a real honour to receive this accolade, which is a reflection on the strength of our culture, and our investment in building our unique values: "The QVC Difference", which provide a foundation and compass for how we do business across the globe.
We invest heavily in our people both financially and more importantly through spending time listening, respecting and building a workplace that they are proud to be part of and feel valued in. For example, in the UK we have started building a culture of bottom-up continuous improvement, referred to as BIGs (Business Improvement Groups) empowering team members to drive improvements for themselves and their colleagues. This involves giving them the time and necessary training (e.g. Lean Six Sigma) to make real improvements, in areas highlighted by our employee engagement survey.
What initiatives do you have in place to help you be a top employer?
While our global matrix structure enables us to plan strategically at a global level, our people strategies continue to be tailored to market and functional needs. Each of our strategic HR business partners (market and functionally aligned) sets a people strategy with the executive leader they support, while the global structure also enables us to align and connect our HR systems for greater efficiency.
We have designed and rolled out a leadership competency model, giving our leaders and global teams a common language regarding the behaviours that lead to success. One other focus that we are proud of is the introduction of dedicated employee engagement teams for each market, enabling us to create the best possible experience for employees based on their specific needs.
Another initiative which we know has supported our achievement as a top employer is the introduction of a consistent global performance appraisal system, allowing team members and leaders to record and track performance throughout the year, reducing the time spent at year-end. Succession planning has been another key focus, supported again by our HR system, enabling us to capture our team members’ aspirations, mobility preferences and skills so leaders can assess potential and plan strategically for our future talent needs.
What makes a top employer? What are your top tips to fellow HR leaders?
Commitment to and passion about your people is vital. At QVC we spend time capturing the views of our team members whether through our engagement survey, employee forums, pulse surveys or BIGs (Business Improvement Groups). Only by listening and building on what you hear do you create a culture where people feel respected and valued.
Even when change is afoot and messages can be tough, we are guided by our values and ensure that we are open and honest in how we communicate and that we keep our word and do the right thing.
Whats next on your agenda?
Our focus is on business growth, through our ecommerce platforms and potential expansion into new markets (we have been traditionally known as a TV shopping channel, but we are now also a strong ecommerce retailer).
To support this expansion, we will continue to push our strategic focus on employee engagement and creating a culture of leadership across the business. Building real relationships with our customers and our teams internally is one of our core differentiators.
Although we are a global organisation, our employees across all markets still feel like they belong to a family (as they have told us in our recent employer brand workshops!) and as that family expands we want to stay focused on what matters to our people as well as our customers and investors.