Introducing our newest sponsor – Heptagon HR

Heptagon HR was founded by Jo Clifton, to provide expert human resources support to SMEs and other organisations across Essex, Suffolk and beyond. Jo is a highly respected HR practitioner with over 30 years of senior level industry experience, including with such household names as Amnesty International, Olympics and the Home Office, as well as a wide range of commercial organisations.

We spoke to Jo about why she wanted to support Colbea and the importance of HR to businesses of any size.

Why work with Colbea?

“As a small business owner myself, I have a lot of respect for the work Colbea does to help entrepreneurs and small business owners, and regularly signpost businesses to them. Getting the ‘people’ elements of business right from the start can make a huge difference to the success and longevity of a new business.  Sponsoring Colbea will give Heptagon HR an opportunity to meet lots of establishing businesses and promote the importance of effective people management, hopefully helping them set the right culture and ways of working for their business from the outset, because at the beginning is really the best time to do it!”

“When they’re starting up, many business people are so busy focusing on sales, marketing and so on, which are, of course, important. But the cliché is true – you are only as good as the people you employ. If your hiring strategies aren’t right, and you’re not engaging your staff effectively, you’re not likely to be getting the most out of your team.”

“I’m hoping to offer some training workshops through Colbea, to help get this message across, and build the confidence and capability of business owners to manage their people well.”

How important is seeking business support and advice?

“I’ve now been self-employed for 12 years, but I can still understand for people starting out how daunting and isolating it can be, so having access to people to get some idea of best practice in areas such as HR, among others, can be so useful.”

Do you have any HR advice for people starting a business?

“Try and set working culture and tone correctly from the outset. Think about the person you are and the type of business you’d like to run (and the customer experience you are trying to create), and keep this in mind when choosing your team and designing their roles – try to enable people to be as successful as possible. Try to create systems that allow people to perform well, innovate, avoid duplication, and engage with their work.”

“Of course, it is important to stay on the right side of the law in terms of HR, but really to get it right is to do much more than to make sure you just comply.”

“At Heptagon HR we work with two main client groups; smaller organisations that aren’t yet big enough to justify needing their own in-house HR department – providing a range of services and advice on an ad-hoc or retained basis (from creating key employment documents through to conflict support, or training). And we also work in partnership with companies large enough to have an in-house HR resource, providing additional capacity and expertise, coaching/mentoring the HR staff and sharing access to resources and expertise amassed over decades of experience. Even if you’re a company with 100 employees and have an HR manager with four years good experience, they’re still not likely to have the experience of someone who has spent 30 years in global HR roles. Above all when working with HR departments, I love building the confidence and capabilities of a team until it doesn’t need me anymore.”

Passionate about business in Colchester, Jo is deeply entrenched in the local business community, running the Colchester Business Biscotti networking event – 2nd Wednesday of every month from 9.45AM to 11.45AM at Church Street Tavern. “It’s a really lovely setting which sets a friendly, relaxed and supportive tone for networking and relationship building with businesses of all shapes and sizes.”

To find out more about Heptagon HR visit