New Balance HRD off to pastures new

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Paul Kennedy, HR director at footwear manufacturer New Balance, has left the organisation to work for Sportsonomy, a talent and development consultancy for the sports industry.

Kennedy announced his move on Friday at the HR Forum on board the cruise ship Aurora. As part of his New Balance swansong, Kennedy spoke on the topic of organisational development. "You have to take risks," he said, "and settle your workforce to be comfortable with new ways of working."

New Balance, which employs 3,000 staff across 47 countries, revamped its HR systems at its UK factory in Flimby, Cumbria, to engage the workforce there and increase productivity.

Since his appointment in 2006, Kennedy set a new HR team and carried out extensive staff research. He said: "In 2006, we found 65% of staff in Flimby wanted to leave New Balance. So we facilitated workshops with them and put management tools in place for continuous improvement.

"We took staff advice to create an action plan for improvement and communicated it with them. Staff approved of changes to systems, because they themselves had recommended them."

The company reduced its six-strong manufacturing teams to four people, meaning more teams and more production. It developed talent management systems and revamped its recognition scheme.

As a result, by the end of 2010, absence had dropped from 9% in 2006, to 2.9% and the factory is now producing 18 pairs of trainers per man-hour - up from 10 pairs in 2006.

Kennedy said: "We made staff involved with decisions about their own workload and we took the excuse to have a party whenever we could. The future is looking good for new balance."

 

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