Sharon Green runs Chiara Consultancy Ltd. It’s an HR interim, coaching and consultancy business helping clients, from start-ups to global corporates, change, innovate and maximise the power of their biggest resource; people.

Sharon’s a great muse for employee experience providers like us. Oh, and she’s an active contributor to the HR Twitter community. Want to get involved? Follow @HR_Hour run by Mark Hendry every Thursday at 8pm (GMT).

Sharon, please give us an overview of what a day in the life of an HR Interim looks like!

That depends if I’m on an assignment (client project) or not. If I am, it is full-on delivering bespoke people projects to tight deadlines, mostly working onsite alongside the permanent team. Projects vary; that’s what’s exciting. From leading a large-scale transformation as part of a £50m cost saving plan, to running a creative global comms campaign to get as many people as possible participating in a new online staff survey - part of a suite of people change initiatives to support a rapidly growing business. 

When I’m not on assignment, I’m investing time in Chiara Consultancy Ltd. I’m writing, posting, tweeting, networking, learning and co-running an HR Interim Networking Group; connecting and supporting businesses like mine.

Would you say you’re a specialist or generalist when it comes to HR?

I’ve an MA in HR which gives me a great generalist foundation to work from. That said, my specialism is my passion for people management, development and change. In HR speak – I specialise in Organisational Development.    

What would you say is the biggest challenge that HR is facing in 2018?

Business and HR wise – Brexit looms large. Tech, data-driven decision-making, and a shift in focus from employee engagement to employee experience are on my list of HR challenges and opportunities for 2018 onwards.

How important is it for HRDs or CPOs to have a good professional relationship with the likes of CFOs, CIOs etc., both in the day-to-day workings of the company, and also in terms of stakeholder influence?

HR needs to work across and understand the whole business. Working well with all functions, knowing your customers, products, the numbers, teams, and people are all important. As well as understanding the challenges facing the business, the whole team must develop great relationships to influence and partner effectively. 

At Benefex, we’re working to bring employers’ focus to the employee experience before they can reach the goal of engagement. Is there a lot of conversation around the employee experience? Can you offer your insights into what practical things employers could do to improve the day-to-day experience of their employees?

Overall, I’ve seen a shift in language from engagement to experience relatively recently. 

As an interim I get to work with a number of companies across different sectors, at different stages and facing a range of situations. I believe you need to start where the business is now to be truly effective. So, some businesses are ahead of the game, making the connection between employee behaviour and customer experience /satisfaction and treating employees like internal customers. Others have a way to go. 

Who’s a credible source in this space?

I’ve been enjoying discovering, reading and listening to: Corporate Rebels, Link Humans, Commotional, Karian and Box, and Benefex, of course. I also enjoy reading academics like Rob Briner and papers from places like IMD. 

Businesses need to do their own due diligence and find a partner they consider credible to work with.

Which companies out there are getting it right?

Companies in the retail, tech and start-up space seem to be ahead of the curve. 

Truly though, it’s hard to tell. I’m a positive sceptic. I’d want to dig beneath the surface to check the employee experience was more than great external employee branding or a name change from engagement, because experience has suddenly become more on-trend. There are a lot of companies – providers, too – who are quickly jumping on the bandwagon of employee experience without putting time in to fully understand it; which could become counter-productive to engagement.

Tell us a bit about Chiara Consultancy Ltd. What inspired you to set it up? What have been your greatest achievements with the company? Do you have any great examples where you’ve seen, first-hand, a company improve their employees’ experience?

I spent the last six years of my permanent career setting up an L&D function and managing graduate recruitment for an international law firm. It’s a tough culture and I achieved a lot of change. 

I left to set up Chiara Consultancy because I was ready for a new challenge. I wanted flexibility and I wanted to work with a range of clients across different sectors again.    

Chiara means “clear” in Italian. I’m inspired to continue providing clear-thinking people solutions that meet the commercial needs of my clients, and to continually learn personally.  

My greatest achievement has been running a successful business despite a long recession. I’ve worked on a real mix of projects in national and international businesses, where I’ve delivered long-term value for my clients and worked with some really good people I’ve learned from.

In my experience, great examples of companies that improve the employee experience holistically and in a joined up, strategic way are rare. I’ve seen it first hand in a start-up I worked with and a couple of global corporate clients too. Even so, they still had challenges to overcome and areas to improve. 

Even if you feel you have this licked, it’s critical to believe your business can continue to make improvements or your culture might get tinged with a touch of corporate hubris.

For some excellent insights into the world of HR, follow Sharon on Twitter.