We are excited to be sharing our new mini blog series, Peer Insights, a coffee break destination for HR, L&OD, People Managers and Workplace Psychologists to share their experiences and predictions for the future of the industry.

This week, we chatted to Sophie Forrest, Founder and MD of ForrestHR, based in Tunbridge Wells. Recently awarded Female Entrepreneur of the Year, with her consultancy named Best Emerging HR Consultancy Firm 2020 at the SME News Southern Enterprise Awards, Sophie is well placed to share her insights on the industry.

Peer Insights

You’re ordering your mid-morning beverage. What’s your drink of choice?

Strong English Breakfast tea.

You bump into a potential client who mentions how she’s concerned with the wellbeing of her employees and the impact of long-term remote work. She asks about your Health & Wellbeing initiative. How would you describe it?

Investing in your employee’s health and wellbeing is vital for the success of any company. Happy employees equal productive employees.

​Staff who are stressed, run down, disillusioned, and marginalised will not only exude lower morale but could also lead to higher employee turnover and recruitment costs.

​Forrest Health & Wellbeing believe that employers who support their employees with their health and wellbeing, will be a crucial part to their success and have therefore introduced two bespoke programmes offering a unique service delivered by industry experts. Read more about Health & Wellbeing Initiative here.

You move onto discussing your busy days ahead, what does a typical day look like in the life of Sophie Forrest?

Dealing with client queries in respect of staff matters and strategic company queries, and also redundancies – which sadly has kept us VERY busy over the last 9 months. Working on the 3 businesses of HR, Training and now Health & Wellbeing, always looking for opportunities to grow the businesses and building relationships with business owners. Also, I’m very busy at the moment sourcing new HR professionals to join the Forrest team and engage in a very unique business model identical to a franchise opportunity but without the huge cost that comes with buying in to a franchise.

I am also fortunate to be invited by new contacts to talk about our story and journey since being successful for two awards in the SME awards.

What excites you the most about the future of HR?

I’m excited for our profession in 2021, a huge benefit that has come from this horrendous pandemic, is that HR has been “put on the map”, consideration of HR as a service has shifted from being a support function to now a business one. Not only did HR, like every other business function, have to adapt to the new way of working or learn quickly about Rishi’s support packages, but we were then being relied upon to translate this to business that needed full guidance and support.

Ensuring HR is seen as a valuable business function has been a challenge for HR for many years and I feel we have reached it, with room to go of course.

HR will be seen as an essential function to have in place, whether that be in-house or outsourced. Businesses will need to ensure that their staff’s mental health and wellbeing is fully supported and, in my opinion, this should be led by HR.

Training and continued education in areas such as resilience, equality and many others should also be at the top of a business owners’ agenda.

And what do you think the biggest challenge facing recruitment is?

I often discuss this with my colleague Neil Simmons from TN Recruits, and he feels the challenges are split in to two. You have industries such as Healthcare, IT, Accountancy, HR and Legal that are absolutely thriving at the moment and are facing the common challenges of finding the right candidate for the right remuneration package.

Other industries such as Hospitality, Events, Retail and Marketing are facing a very tough time, and not only do they not know when their industry will pick back up again, but how long will it last without the risk of yet another lockdown or tiered restrictions. The ability to plan and forecast is impossible.

Thinking ahead to 2021, what do you think the key conversations HR Professionals will be having are?

Unfortunately, I think redundancy conversations will continue. The support from the government with their schemes has been brilliant, but my feeling is this will only delay the inevitable for some.

As previously mentioned, HR will provide a collaborative role to businesses this year and businesses will continue to rely on our support. Health & wellbeing and training must be at the top.

You bid your farewells and head back to work. You reflect on your day ahead, which involves an executive coaching session, what skills do you think are a requirement to being successful in a leadership role?

As a minimum, an effective and successful leader should have the following 5 core skills:

  • Self-development
  • Team development and leadership
  • Strategic thinking and acting
  • Ethical practice and civic-mindedness
  • Innovation

You can learn more about ForrestHR and their work here

Have you heard about our Remote Worker Support Initiative?

With this greater understanding about the challenges and pressures of remote working and the personalities that are most at risk, the initiative provides a complimentary personality assessment using our renowned Profile:Match2 tool. The resulting report will determine where you sit on the personality scales of ten different characteristics. This information can be completed and shared with your remote working team members to allow for tailor made support strategies to be implemented.