Foodservice Cateys 2015: HR Award

23 October 2015
Foodservice Cateys 2015: HR Award

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Lexington Catering had no dedicated HR/people manager role before Emma Langford joined in 2013, and it hasn't taken long for her appointment to pay off. She was shortlisted for the HR Award in 2014 but takes the title this year after impressing the judges with the initiatives she has introduced.

She has been instrumental in helping the company set up a people management and development framework that supports managers but also offers flexibility. She designed and delivered a people strategy to support ambitious growth targets, creating a strong pipeline of leaders. Over the past year, 70% of management positions have been filled with internal candidates.

Langford always looks to understand the business challenges and to develop innovative but practical ways of overcoming them. She has focused on five themes to achieve a positive work environment: communication, equality and diversity, management development, health and wellbeing, and valuing people.

She played an integral part in the success of Elior's 2014 acquisition of Lexington Catering by ensuring staff members were kept up to date and remained motivated. Staff turnover is now 16% compared with a 40% industry average. Absence spend has also fallen by over 30% since April 2014.

Since her launch of an employee wellbeing campaign last year, 62% of staff ranked themselves between eight and 10 out of 10 for how happy they were, compared with an average of 55% the year before.

She also introduced an equality and diversity campaign in 2014 to ensure all employees understand appropriate behaviour at work. The campaign has helped reduce the number of grievances and conduct issues.

Langford manages a team of more than 750 employees across the whole of the business. Since the Elior acquisition she has been involved in wider group activities, reviewing all HR systems and processes to ensure they meet business goals. She oversees more than 50 sites in London and the South East.

Other achievements in 2014 include her introduction of a dedicated team to ensure information goes through the right channels, management training programmes, and a scheme to recognise exceptional performance. This year she has launched a mentoring programme that has already matched 17 pairs of mentors and mentees across the business.

What the judges said

Emily Perry, Humm Media

"An outstanding submission detailing a number of imaginative and strategic programmes that have had a measurable, positive impact on performance and employee retention. A very worthy winner."

Stephen Moss, The Springboard Charity

"As people manager at Lexington, Emma is certainly living up to the title. The initiatives she has introduced all appear to be going very well and producing fantastic results."

Julia Sibley, Savoy Educational Trust


  • Emma Langford, Lexington Catering

  • Sue Parfett, The Brookwood Partnership

Past winners

  • 2014 Alison Gray, Delaware North Companies

  • 2013 Alison Gilbert, CH&Co Group

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