In response to the UK government’s drive to bring quality broadband to the entire UK, in 2018 internet service provider Hyperoptic stepped up to the challenge. But to achieve the company’s ambitious goal of providing ‘hyperfast’ fibre broadband to five million homes and businesses by 2024, the people team had to revolutionise its function.

How it handled the acceleration of the superfast broadband rollout while keeping people at the heart of the transformation stunned the People Management Awards judges.

Informed of the ‘Let’s Gigabit Britain’ project on August 1 2018, the people team immediately moved into action.

Their main focus was to ensure quality of hire, first class training and development, and exceptional employee engagement with a view to providing high performing employees for the business, supported by SMEs who would help create the systems and processes needed to fulfil the company’s objective.

KPIs were realigned to reflect the new challenge and everything linked back clearly to the needs and strategy of the business.

Internal People Development and People Culture teams were expanded and restructured, with the people team growing from just eight to 40 members – a remarkable achievement in itself, according to the judges.

When at the end of August 2018, the team lost its HR director, who was not replaced until Feb 2019, it seized the opportunity to work closely with the C-suite in the interim, and the closer, more collaborative relationship didn’t stop there.

Fundamental, too, was the recognition that, as a fast-growing business, capturing the ‘voice’ of the employees was critical. First impressions surveys, quarterly pulse surveys and, for the engineering group, the employee voice forum – whereby an elected group of engineers across the company joined members of the executive team to discuss their roles on the front line–were established.

After a series of leadership team workshops, 15 competencies that defined what it meant to be successful at Hyperoptic and what behaviours the company strived for were developed. The impact has been incredible. Formerly a company of around 340 employees working in both the UK and Serbia (with just three people in the people development Team and five in the people and culture team), by December 2018, the 1,000 employee mark was hit across both territories. Nearly 700 employees were hired and trained in 15 weeks. From the start of the project to January 2020, UK broadband coverage jumped from five to 12 per cent.

“This is a really positive growth story linked back to an infrastructure and skills story for the UK,” the judges commented. “This is very timely given that many of us have been more reliant on having fast and reliable broadband over the past few months, and given the shift the UK economy will need to make post Covid.”