Meet our Culture Team – Kate Bates

19 January 2023

After almost 12 months, we’ve made great strides in developing a culture where our teams can thrive and this, in turn, helps our customers to succeed.

Let us introduce you to the people who are leading the culture change within Workwell.

Kate Bates, Chief People & Culture Officer, joined us a year ago. Kate’s immediate challenge was to support the business to attract and retain talent which led her to appoint Christina Poole, Group Talent Acquisition Lead, to support.  Kate successfully balances a busy schedule of work and family and tells us in her own words about her journey to date…

 

 

Kate’s Career Journey

“My early career started with John Lewis as a Customer Service Advisor, quickly falling in love with the company’s passion for their ‘partners’ and the service delivered to their customers, I knew I wanted to be part of a People function.

Stepping into my first People role within John Lewis, then known as ‘Personnel ’, I was fortunate to spend time in each department; learning and development, Recruitment, Employee Relations and Reward. I had found a career I loved, straight from school and decided to embark on a postgraduate degree one day a week, very similar to how apprenticeships work nowadays, whilst working in a People Function.

In my early career, I moved around into different sectors, retail, and accountancy before spending a large amount of time in logistics.

I got married and had two children and decided to prioritise my new family. Unable to secure a part-time position with my then-employer I was fortunate to be offered an opportunity within a workforce solutions provider. They gave me the opportunity to work part-time and supported me to complete my MBA at Hertfordshire University.

Working in a busy senior HR business partner role, before stepping to a Head of Talent Acquisition, I was in my element. I had a purpose at work and a purpose and fulfilment at home. Balance of being a present mum whilst also adding value in a senior role was where I wanted to be.

In the July of 2021, I wanted more professional development, having learnt so much from my previous manager and the MBA I was near completing I knew it was time to build and deliver a people and culture function for another business. The opportunity at Workwell was perfect and I am so grateful that they agreed to support the last few months of my MBA enabling me to finish and achieve a Distinction.

I now lead our group people and culture strategy with the aim of delivering the best employee and customer experiences. Bringing all of our people together and enhancing our business capability(even when we work in different locations) with our mantra of ‘Together we Thrive’.

It has been a busy year here at Workwell and we have achieved so much together. Our people and culture strategy has been tackling matters that are important to our people.

It based on three core foundations of:

  • HR information system – which we have named Hive
  • Communication
  • Equality, diversity, inclusion and belonging

 

These foundations support the activities that are taking place in our four core pillars:

  • Leadership capability
  • Talent & development
  • Reward & benefits
  • Wellbeing

 

All the activities within our core foundations and our 4 pillars help us to have engaged talent. Every activity we are undertaking will fall into one of these areas with the sole aim to ensure our people are Engaged and therefore importantly enjoy and want to come to work happy.

I am excited to see the changes and the continued progress we make in each of these areas. Without the support from everyone across the group, the improvements introduced would not have been as successful as they already are, our people’s support and passion have helped us make so many positive changes already.

Quick-Fire Questions

What’s your career highlight?

Without sounding cliché, taking this role has been a highlight of my career. It has been a fascinating and exciting 12 months and the achievements this year have been phenomenal.

I am proud that we are, improving the benefits for our people, bringing the teams together and launching an inclusive and engaging people and culture strategy. I am excited to see how this journey continues. Plans to develop and improve our people and culture offerings are still really only in their infancy with more transformation over the coming months and years.

Who inspires you and why?

There are so many famous people that are inspiring but someone a little closer to home has to be, my husband, Mike.

After over 11 years in the military, he decided to leave and start a new chapter in his career. His passion for leadership and development has seen him achieve a Master’s in Business and Occupational Psychology, built a new career and set up his own company to be proud of.

This has been no easy journey over the last 8 years, and he has never given up, constantly believing in himself and achieving more than he thought was possible. He is a true gentleman, kind, compassionate and a wonderful husband and dad.

Personal goal/achievement or your proudest moment?

Throughout my life, there are many achievements I am proud of. Professionally and personally, I have always tried to ensure that I leave a positive impact and support those around me. Kindness, integrity and fairness are three personal values I live my life by.

Professionally, I think having purpose is essential and feeling valued by your colleagues and employer. Embarking on a Master’s in Business Administration two months before COVID struck and then completing this within two years was no easy task. I was in a job I enjoyed and developing myself professionally (and personally) and I am grateful to all those who supported me to achieve this accolade.

Personally, I am proud to have been lucky enough to become a mum to two gorgeous daughters. They always keep me grounded with their love for life and incredible imaginations.

Your perfect day would include…

Some form of exercise, whether it’s lifting some weights, going for a run or even a long brisk walk. Followed by making memories with family or friends. Often as a family, we can be found outdoors, by the sea on even the coldest of days and making the most of life. I really love socialising, enjoying excellent food and maybe a glass or two of champagne.

Motto you live by

Be kind, be honest and be yourself. You truly never know what people are going through and being kind, honest and yourself is so important.

Things you dislike

I try to see the best in most situations and having a more positive mindset helps me to reframe situations. That aside, I really dislike the shorter, colder, and darker days that come with winter.

Favourite holiday destination

There are so many, if I can’t be on a cruise ship in the Caribbean then I would probably choose Norfolk! As a family we love to be outside, exploring and making memories and Norfolk is a perfect place for us to visit. With sea, sand and excellent fish and chips, we are always in our element and enjoying the great outdoors.

What do you love about your job?

I love working with so many diverse and entrepreneurial people. Building a people and culture function improves communication, brings people together and fosters engaged talent, which is all fundamental to the company’s overall success. Bringing about real change through benefits, engraining our values and our ‘Together we Thrive’ mentality is improving the work environment for everyone.

First impressions at Workwell?

It seems strange talking about my first impression after 12 months in the role but the passion and dedication of the teams across the business are evident every day. Their drive to do the best for each other and their clients is always present. The company and the people all embrace change and the excitement, challenge and growth that comes with something new.

Can’t start the day without…

After cuddles from my girls (they still bundle into bed at 6am for a cuddle!), it has to be breakfast and coffee. I believe that physical and mental wellbeing is about having the time to look after yourself; exercise and eat nutritious food is an essential part of life.

Favourite book/song

Songs take me to many different moments and places in time. Whether it’s ‘Every step you take’, ‘Red Lights Spells Danger’ and so many more they all take me back to some happy and some sad moments in time. The power of music and memories is incredible and I am sure everyone can appreciate the feelings that come from hearing some songs.

I love the author Karin Slaughter her books are incredible and I can’t put them down once I have started reading them. In fact, I am almost a useless holiday companion once I sit on a sun lounger with one of her books as I am so engrossed in the stories.

Suggested Reads

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