As part of our Human Resources focus this month we'd like to introduce you to our HR team. Karen, Amy and Pauline have several years of HR experience and are all CIPD qualified so you can be confident with the support and advice they provide.


KAREN HOUSEMAN – DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS

What drew you to a career in Human Resources? I studied psychology at university and knew that I wanted to work with people in an organisational setting, so HR seemed the perfect choice!

How long have you worked in a HR role at Avon LMC? 10 years.

What do you enjoy most about your role within Human Resources? I really enjoy the diverse nature of the queries and working with several different Practices.

Are there any HR queries that you have found are particularly common within General Practice? Most recently, we have seen lots of queries relating to restructures where Practices are keen to ensure their staffing structure is fit for purpose in the ever changing nature of General Practice.

What do you find the most challenging aspect of HR? Every employee is different and will react differently to proposals and situations, and at times this can be hard to anticipate! Therefore, you need to prepare for all eventualities and also not be afraid to adjourn a meeting and seek advice!

Karen Houseman

Amy Gapare

AMY GAPARE – DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS SERVICES

What drew you to a career in Human Resources? Initially I was very much attracted to the people side, supporting employees in their employment with a business to ensure they are treated fairly. What I enjoy now is the more strategic side to HR, helping organisations reach their goals, whether a restructure, changing the culture and helping them work through the stages and queries that this can throw up. It is great to be able to advise people based on my understanding and knowledge of employment law that can protect them and support them in reaching their desired goals.

How long have you worked in a HR role at Avon LMC? I have been working with Avon LMC now for 4 years. There has been a massive shift in the type of queries and support we are giving now based on the changing face of general practice. We do a lot more strategic work assisting practices with mergers and TUPE. We also advise Practices a lot on shared employment contracts to assist in sharing staff and the delivery of services.

What do you enjoy most about your role within Human Resources? It is an extremely rewarding job, being able to assist Practices and advise them in line with employment law, providing strategies that work for them in practice and helping them interpret how the law is applied and how this is followed through in practice. I really enjoy the more meaty strategic work such as advising a practice on a restructure or TUPE where the law surrounding these processes is much more intricate.

Are there any HR queries that you have found are particularly common within General Practice? We get a huge variety of queries, whether it be managing absence, disciplinaries, grievances through to mergers and TUPE. Every situation is always very different and the advice given is always tailored to the Practice and their circumstances.

What do you find the most challenging aspect of HR? I think the most challenging aspect of this role is that we aren’t an embedded HR department in a Practice. Knowing the culture and the employees makes a huge difference to your understanding of the queries, the implications and how to manage the employees and how they may respond. Another challenging aspect is that we can’t always second guess what response or outcome our advice will provide, so we can’t advise through every step up front. Many people who contact us want to know straight away how to respond if X happens or Y happens, but all we can do is await the response, then help the Practice put in a plan of action to manage the response.


PAULINE JENKINS – HUMAN RESOURCES ADVISER

What drew you to a career in Human Resources? It was the one profession within a business which appealed to me due to the interaction with people (although it didn’t take long to realise all the paperwork which came with it!).

How long have you worked in a HR role at Avon LMC? 9 years.

What do you enjoy most about your role within Human Resources? I enjoy the variety and dealing with people to help them with issues. Also the successful conclusion of a long complex issue can be rewarding.

Are there any HR queries that you have found are particularly common within General Practice? Like most organisations sickness and absence issues are a common theme. We also seem to get a lot of queries at the moment about managing probationary periods.

What do you find the most challenging aspect of HR? When people do not deal with issues and they escalate unnecessarily. Things can usually be resolved more easily and quickly at an early stage. Also when you have advised someone with an issue and then they mention something which turns out to be very relevant and you have to start again!