With over 10,000 colleagues across our network, spanning over 50 sites in the UK, it is extremely important to us that measures are in place to protect the mental and physical wellbeing of everyone associated with Yodel.
From the customers who interact with our services, through to our colleagues under-the-roof, our Health, Safety, Environment & Quality (HSEQ) team ensure the protection & welfare of all.
We sat with Reece Cherry, our HSEQ Director, who joined the business three years ago, to discuss the changes he has implemented during his time in the role, the impact his team has had, and how they ensure all stakeholders are familiar with HSEQ protocols.
Reece leads a team of eleven colleagues, across a range of HSEQ specialisms including field based holistic safety specialists, Training, Sortation, Road and Transportation and Environmental specialists.
What are some of the biggest changes that you’ve made during your time in the role?
“Whilst there are many achievements I could name, I’ve narrowed it down to a couple of areas, this first of which is enhancing the HSEQ team and the way we work. We now have clearly defined roles, supporting our business leaders across final mile network, Sortation, Road and Transport, Training and Environment.
Prior to joining Yodel, we had a dedicated audit function within the team that solely undertook audits. We have strengthen the support we can offer by increasing our HSEQ Business Partner coverage, and brought the internal audit function back into the remit of the HSEQ Business Partners. “Another positive highlight is the company wide involvement in our ISO business accreditation process. This year we made an active change to ensure we had a greater contribution and involvement from other functions within the business. We had 12 central functions who all contributed to the recertification audit for our renewed ISO accreditation. It’s great because it gives the auditor to the opportunity to see all the fantastic work that’s done, and all the mechanisms that make our business run, and not just in the operational domain, but in the commercial world and beyond too.”
What are your biggest achievements to date?
“I’m proud of how the HSEQ team are considered a fundamental part of Yodel. We have daily involvement across the breadth of the business, and have lots of important stakeholder touch points. I describe it as having a seat at the table. We are part of the mechanics of how the machine runs more than we have ever been. We’re often at the forefront of important decision making, and that’s really led to some excellent collaborative work with various departments. So, now if the business is making purchases, making changes to processes, bringing on board new sites, or planning for Peak; we’re absolutely involved and considered an integral part of making this happen. I believe the opportunity to contribute and shape thinking makes us a better business.”
Tell us about your team
“Firstly, I’d just like to shout loudly about what a wonderful job they do. I’m delighted to lead them and I am very happy with our collective contribution to the business.
Overall, I think the team do so many things of which the results may be unseen. It can be difficult to demonstrate the value of a proactive team of people, particularly when the incident was prevented due to an early intervention.
The job is broad too; my team can be business partnering the Leaders, reviewing plans and ensuring our workplace safety is robust, and the next minute they can be out in the operation working alongside our delivery colleagues working through day to day challenges.
“On a personal level, the team is a diverse group. We’ve got real mix of experiences in the team. For example, we have colleagues who’ve joined the from maritime, armed forces, and manufacturing. We have colleagues that have been in Yodel over 20 years, and others who are a few months in.
“I say this tongue in cheek, but I think it’s important to highlight, we’re not grey suits and clipboards! We actively strive to build our brand as business enablers, and value added business partners and honestly, we’re quite a good laugh if I do say so myself. “We probably don’t fit the mould people might of when they hear HSEQ. In the team we have BBQ extraordinaries, colleagues who enjoy fast cars and whiskey, we’ve got animal lovers – you name it! We have a weekly wrap-up on a call on a Friday which is where we debrief from the weeks events and it’s always really interesting to hear about the what the team are getting up to in their downtime and you get to see what makes each of us tick as individuals.”
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a department?
“One of the biggest challenges we face has been shaping what ‘good’ looks like into scalable solutions when managing typical industry risk issues, for example, workplace transport or machine safe guarding. It’s been useful to bring in our wider industry experience into Yodel and be able to contribute to improving our places of work.
“A good example of this in our Northampton service centre, which is a site we’ve focused on initially to improve people and vehicle safety. It can be seen as a benchmark for excellent workplace transport design. Other leaders now talk about employing those standards within their service centres and want a similar solution. The Leaders have really taken that onboard the important of strong workplace transport controls and we’re now seeing synergy in the set-up across other sites”.
What does the future look like for HSEQ and how are you developing as a team? “Just like lots of functions, we are keen to look at how we use technology to our advantage and digitalise where we can. This will help us to take away some of the administration associated with some of the key routines such as safety inspections and recording training records. We will be working with existing technology solutions that’s some functions are already benefiting from, and exploring new solutions from the market, with the guidance and support of our IT specialists.”
How do you communicate Health & Safety protocols to the business?
“It can be a challenge. Less so for our permanent employed colleagues, and more so our self-employed colleagues; particularly those who are recruited during the pre-Christmas Peak period, where we see a significant increase in the number of colleagues coming into our business in a short period of time. We have training plans for all new starters, designed to ensure they have the necessary information to ensure their own and others safety.
“We have regular dialogue with our regional management and senior leaders regarding safety performance each month which tracks the key routines have happened and highlights areas that need more attention.
“The key to our success, however, is our people – we cannot do it without them. We rely on the leaders out there across the network to make sure we have given our colleagues the necessary training before they hit the road – information such as staying safe from rogue dogs when knocking on doors, knowing the correct way to address parcels that have spilled their contents and knowing how to work safely with equipment. We must not under estimate the importance of this.
We also need our colleagues out there doing the job to take care of themselves, and speak up if they have any safety concerns. There isn’t a measure more important than knowing our colleagues got back home to the people who care about them, safely.
Finally, what would you say to someone looking for a career in this industry? “When I first got into the industry, there was certainly some stigma attached to being in Safety. Commonly, you would hear people talk about ‘health and safety gone mad’. But, in recent times the perception of HSEQ has shifted dramatically and it’s a fantastic career path for individuals looking to make a real difference in the world of work. If we look back at the pandemic for example, it’s clear just how important and valuable this function is for any business and I believe employers recognise that.
“A lot of what we do is around influencing people and building positive relationships, there are a lot of soft skills that are required in a role like this, which maybe aren’t too obvious from the outset.
“Here’s a motto that I believe is poignant here: ‘Don’t do Health & Safety to people, do it with them’. It is one that I would encourage anyone on this career path to live by”.