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Award-winning HR: HR Team of the Year

What does it take to win an HR Excellence Award? Past winners share their entries how they impressed the judges.

Backing up fantastic strategies with rock-solid figures, each winner has managed to persuade judges of their team’s impact on business.

To start the series, we look at 2022’s victor in our most popular category: HR Team of the Year.

Not yet started your entry? View 2023's categories now.


HR Team of the Year 2022: Wincanton

Logistics is a challenging industry. Afflicted by massive skills shortages and an ageing and homogenous workforce, it is exactly where good HR practice is needed most.

Wincanton’s HR team, 190 strong and part-formed during the height of the pandemic, did not just support the company through challenging times, but enabled it to excel.

Constructed of business-facing partnering units, and supporting over 20,000 employees, the team provides both strategic and tactical support to the business. 

A number of strategic thought leadership teams, deemed Centres of Excellence, likewise focus on issues including talent and development, industrial relations, and reward, driving impressive solutions to these long-term issues.

Judges’ tips for winning a HR Excellence Awards

One such solution, the Future Drivers Programme, addressed the well-publicised shortfall in HGV drivers.

Through it, the HR team has supported a total of more than 480 existing and new employees to qualify as drivers by putting together a package of targeted apprenticeships and fast-track driver's licence acquisition schemes.

With 58% of this year’s intake under 34 and 6% female (against an industry average of 0.7%,) the programme has kickstarted the process of building a more resilient and diverse talent pool.

The team’s impressive approach to the talent crisis does not stop there. 

Its apprenticeship strategy is immensely comprehensive. Including more than 80 different programmes, it supports apprentices from 17 to 64 years of age in roles from anything such as driving and warehousing to HR and finance.

The HR team’s efforts show its care towards developing diverse talent internally: nearly a third (31%) of Wincanton’s apprentices are female, and 3% have declared disabilities.

Retention is high for the industry at 76% after completion, and engagement has seen continuous improvement since implementing night shift apprenticeship programmes.

The team’s comprehensive approach to talent – always with principles of D&I in mind – saw a 50% increase in the company’s graduate intake, with a 54% increase in female graduates and 37% increase in ethnic minority graduates on its one-year placement scheme.

The firm likewise offered 37 roles to long-term unemployed young people through the government’s Kickstart scheme.

Thinking ahead, the HR team was also working to secure vital skills for the future. 

Data, engineering and technology training have been key parts of its development programme, launching a business technology programme, data analyst programme and putting 56 employees through a sales and account management programme that standardises the company’s customer experience.

During the two turbulent years of the HR team’s existence, it has also overseen significant growth from the company’s first acquisitions in more than a decade. 

Onboarding 700 employees in one fell swoop in September 2021, the team then brought 363 staff into the fold from a variety of different companies, successfully integrating them within the business.

The team’s crucial support and ever-accelerating efforts towards building an inclusive and fulfilling company have contributed greatly to the firm’s success. 

In the last financial year, Wincanton brought on 4.1% more staff, increasing the number of drivers by 3.9% to 5,300 against a trend of severe skill shortages.

These efforts have enabled the company to grow its revenue by 16.3% and underlying profit before tax by 23.1%, a stunning result – all while driving up engagement up from 66 to 69% in the past year.

Judges were hugely impressed. One said: “I really liked the benefits to the business achieved by having a well-articulated people strategy, understanding the need to create opportunities for more drivers, and succession planning. 

“A well written submission with great results.”


Enter HR Team of the Year in the HR Excellence Awards.

View the full list of categories here.