Network Rail owns, operates and develops the UK’s rail infrastructure – that’s 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and many thousands of signals and level crossings. The company has a 40,000 strong workforce, and since 2016 they have been working with the CIPD to further strengthen their people function of 400–500 professionals.
I am delighted that Network Rail has been awarded People Development Partner status by the CIPD. We are proud to engage with the CIPD as our professional body, and we are committed to providing a first class environment in which our HR professionals can develop.
Group HR Director, Network Rail
I believe People Development Partner status will provide Network Rail with a fantastic opportunity to further strengthen our people capability, enabling the HR teams to develop, design and deliver our business strategy.
Sinead Trudgill, Chartered FCIPD
Director of Human Resources, Network Rail
Having secured PDP status, we want now to deepen our relationship with the CIPD, and make professional development the cornerstone of growing a world-class HR function.
Tim Craddock, Chartered FCIPD
HR Director, Eastern Region, Network Rail
Putting people development centre stage
Working with the CIPD since 2016, Network Rail have been working to strengthen its people capability by creating a bespoke HR competency framework based on the CIPD Profession Map.
Director of Human Resources at Network Rail, Sinead Trudgill: 'We started a journey to professionalise the HR function. We wanted to bring the outside into our organisation and a two-way collaboration with the CIPD is core to helping us meet those aims.'
Partnering with the CIPD has put people development centre stage at a time of great organisational change. Access to 'a vast amount of excellent learning and research material' offered by the CIPD has proved a great resource and stimulated an appetite for learning.
Meanwhile, the Profession Map-based competency framework has provided crucial skills development clarity within the context of business needs. As Sinead says: 'it makes you think about what we are here to do'.
On top of this, all graduates in HR roles are studying for CIPD qualifications at either Level 5 or Level 3, and a 'community of learning' has been established across the business.
Bolstering strategic capacity
The HR business partnering programme, with its emphasis on the challenges confronting various parts of the business has been very well received by participants. These participants are developed to become effective business partners, offering a strategic perspective designed to help their respective businesses learn.
Sinead builds on this, pointing out that 'you're not there just to do the organisational change piece, or manage the trade union relationship. Truly, you're there to understand what your business area is doing. Our people have really got the grasp of that and love it.'
Strategic workforce planning is now considered every bit as important as financial planning in Network Rail. By assessing its workforce profile and the skills, capability and knowledge required to do key jobs, the organisation gained valuable insight into its business. For instance, as a result it's begun addressing talent supply shortages in areas with an ageing employee demographic where early retirement has been prevalent.
One helpful upshot of this work is the creation of a 'compelling need' to discuss people. Sinead, a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD, describes herself as an evangelist when it comes to having a professional qualification in people and argues that being CIPD qualified bestows an equal place at the table with colleagues in functions such as finance. 'You also see how people are able to grab a tool from their toolbag – their knowledge – and bring it into a meeting, or put it into a plan or conversation'.
Going forward, Network Rail's aim is to drive the relationship with the CIPD to further augment strategic workforce planning so that it becomes an iterative part of the business management cycle in the organisation. There is also work to do on culture and refining the employee value proposition to attract talent into an increasingly agile work environment as ongoing digitalisation of the railway calls for new skills and capabilities. In meeting this challenge, Network Rail will be relying on the CIPD to help with research.
Pauline Holroyd, Group HR Director, also appreciates the expertise, insight and support provided by the CIPD and is excited about what the future holds. 'With HR at the forefront of driving our people agenda, we can make Network Rail a fantastic place for people to work and develop their careers; and thereby deliver for our passengers.'
Right now, all the signals indicate that Network Rail is on track to deliver.