· People

Sharon Benson, HR director, Express Gifts

Sharon Benson is an experienced HR executive with a proven track record of partnering with board members and private equity stakeholders

Benson joined Express Gifts in August 2017 as the group’s first HR director, tasked with overhauling its HR approach and supporting the wider business transformation to drive enhanced commercial return for shareholders.

Benson is passionate about delivering sustainable business growth by placing colleagues at the heart of the development programme. A specialist in transformation, she is an advocate of commercially-focused employee value propositions, helping businesses understand how improved customer numbers, profit and social responsibility starts with colleagues.

During her time with Express Gifts she has been instrumental in the digital transformation of provision of HR services, which complements the company’s ‘digital-first’ strategy with the HR ‘customer at the heart of everything we do’ vision. She has centralised core HR services through a shared services model, restructuring all transactional activity in one team to enable the streamlining and consolidation of HR processes. Benson has expanded the HR service offering beyond transactional and operational to include commercial strategic business partnering where her team work collaboratively and proactively with all business areas to maximise the performance and potential of colleagues.

Benson joined Express Gifts from Acorn Care and Education where she successfully made positive improvements across all key people metrics to enhance the commercial value of the group, prior to its successful sale to NFA. Increasing employee retention by 23% and reducing turnover to a care sector low of just 20%. Benson supported business growth by hiring 43% more colleagues than forecast within original budget, saving the business more than £1 million in ongoing operating costs.

Benson’s career highlights also include:

  • Leading the largest component of the Co-operative Group ‘OneHR’ transformation programme to develop phase one organisation design that would significantly reduce ongoing HR operating costs
  • Supported Keoghs to secure private equity funding to expand and consolidate legal services market
  • Secondment from HR to the strategy and transformation team of Northern Rock that oversaw the restructure and successful sale to Virgin Money, leveraging her strong relationship with Unite
  • Voted Personnel Today’s HR Director of the Year in 2007 during her first year in directorship
  • Voted DWF Outstanding Leader in HR in 2007.