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HR needs to 'sharpen up' to the challenges it will face in 2013, says Direct Line HR director


Dealing with job losses in all areas of a business and managing the negative press that come with it is something that would be a challenge to any HR director. It is unfortunately a challenge Mark Martin (pictured), HR director of insurance firm, Direct Line, had to deal with last year, and re-structuring the business and dealing with further job cuts will be an ongoing process in 2013.

Martin has been HRD at Direct Line for three years. He joined in 2010 from T-Mobile, where he also held the position of HRD.

Martin confirmed that despite ongoing uncertainty around jobs, the engagement levels within the organisation remain some of the highest in their sector.

Martin says: "It's all about staying as open and transparent as possible, that's why we've already stated that unfortunately the job cuts probably won't stop next year.

"When we had to announce our most recent loss of jobs it was really tough, but I feel that I and the company managed it well and to be fair most of our staff remained very professional."

"It wasn't something I did lightly it was tough, especially as some of these people were close friends. It's unusual to lose such a high amount of senior staff but I believe efficiency has to begin at the top."

Martin felt he had a personal responsibility to help the staff who lost their jobs in finding new work: "Obviously it was hard and there were a lot of tears, but we offered a great deal of outplacement support and coaching," he says.

He adds: "As so much change has happened we need to look back and make fresh, clear objectives, because one mistake many people in the HR function make is that they don't address the changes they make."

Martin has personal aims for the year, he says: "I want to continue to support the people we will and have already let go. I want to have more of a focus on the individual, to look at how we can be more efficient and develop growing capabilities."

Martin also believes that everyone in HR needs to "sharpen up" to the challenges that will face the function in 2013.