A package of HR services has been launched for the sector by Co-operatives UK.
Aimed at co-ops with 10 or more staff, the new services will provide specialist HR support for co-operatives.
These services were formerly delivered to co-operatives by the Co-operative Employers Association (CEA), which was part of Co-operatives UK (then Co-operative Union) until 2000 when it was acquired by the Co-operative Group.
Following recent discussions over its structure, CEA was spun out as a company limited by guarantee, and was re-acquired by Co-operatives UK this year to deliver the new range of personnel services.
Tim Knowles, former CEA secretary, will be leading the service, which will be available to all Co-operatives UK members. He believes that incorporating the HR service into Co-operatives UK will enable more businesses across the co-operative sector to benefit from this expert advice, resources and networking.
“Any co-operative with a workforce needs to know its HR policy and law,” he said. “Over the past 15 years we have developed a platform for a great value offer that is designed specifically for co-operatives. Extending the offer through Co-operatives UK’s new HR package means that co-operative businesses of all kinds can access expert advice and save costs on essential HR services.”
The package provides advice, support and guidance in HR policy, law, reward, benefits and benchmarking. It also includes the joint procurement of other HR products and services, such as access to XpertHR, providing high levels of cost-savings.
An HR strategy group and forum will bring together HR professionals to share innovations and best practice, and there will be a focus on communicating the benefits of working for a co-operative.
He added: “Co-operatives UK’s HR Services are a clear and transparent value proposition; we can tell members precisely what is available to them and for what price. CEA’s former services were never marketed or clearly defined and relied mostly on goodwill.
“Co-operatives UK has secured great partnerships with XpertHR, Co-operative Flexible Benefits and HayGroup. We know already that this has improved value to members and saved them money.
“The development areas for the future, in particular our HR Forum and joint purchasing initiatives, are particularly exciting new opportunities for us all.
“The Co-operatives UK HR Services package is a step-change away from re-active support towards pro-active co-operation which adds value, improves employer brand and widens the potential for us to communicate the benefits of working for a co-op in the UK.”
Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK, added: “Businesses thrive because of their people, and this is particularly the case in co-operatives. Through this new package – which is part of our ongoing work to provide our members with what they need to run their business – members of Co-operatives UK will be able to access expert HR policy and support that can make a difference.”
Co-operatives already using the new service include UK retail societies, the Phone Co-op, Clynderwen and Cardiganshire Farmers and East Midlands Housing Group.