A new approach to HR with Crimson Panda

Crimson Panda is a recently established HR consultancy company that specialises in providing bespoke HR services to businesses around the world. The Crimson Panda team has a combined fifty plus years of experience in the industry and are specialists in various fields of HR. Their values revolve around their core intention to amplify, grow, and unleash the best from their clients’ teams and moving away from the restrictions of traditional HR processes and systems. Co-founders Becs Cubbon, Terri Wilcox and Tom Luesley are dedicated to giving back to the Isle of Man community; they recently sponsored Kush the Red Panda and his family, the inspiration for the company’s brand and infamous escape artist. 

Can you explain what your company does?

In a nutshell we are a HR and employee experience consultancy. We can help businesses take their current HR practices and re-shape them into impactful and empowering frameworks, which make businesses more agile and relevant in today’s employment world. We understand what is needed to create an environment where people can, and want, to do their best work and businesses can feel comfortable that they are being guided by industry experts.

We would define what we do as HR 3.0. 

In essence, HR 1.0 was seen as an admin function, with no voice and constantly being told what to do by the business. 2.0 was more about HR being the police and managing everything around risk and HR having a parent to child relationship with employees. 3.0 is about HR enabling employee experience at an individual level, as opposed to a focus on absolute consistency, having an adult-to-adult relationship with trust being the biggest factor and allowing people to have the flexibility and autonomy to make mistakes and learn from them. 

You’ve talked about employee experience, what does this really mean?

For us, what is really core to what we do is employee experience. When an employee is initially being recruited by a company, they will roll out the red carpet throughout that process, making them feel really wanted, selling the brand and the culture.  Then the individual receives their offer letter which often will portray the exact opposite. It can be, ‘if you do this, we have the power to do that’, which creates a feeling of ‘them’ and ‘us’, and lack of trust.

Companies often write policies, processes and procedures based on the lowest common denominator. Policies are written around that one person who caused problems, with everyone then being distrusted and penalised.

What we do is help companies build the necessary structures and systems but to do it with employee experience at the centre. Yes, companies have compliance, and they have risk but how do you create an experience for people that doesn’t make those two elements the forefront? 

How is your company helping other businesses implement HR 3.0 across their infrastructure?

A key thing for us is to get in and understand the business first and what they do because you can’t make relevant recommendations or suggestions to them if you don’t understand their business. So, we challenge the companies we work with to think about their employees and their working processes in a different way, trying to shed a new light on what it is they do today and then helping them create the experience around trust and empowerment.

We can partner with companies to provide the “normal” HR consultancy services such as writing a contract or helping them develop policies.  However, we do this with employee experience at the core. If someone came to us and said they wanted healthcare, we wouldn’t just find them the cheapest healthcare. Benefits are only valuable if they are known about, understood, and valued by employees. We would work with the company to create a bespoke proposition that compliments their business as well as being simple to understand, exciting and engaging for their employees.

It isn’t one size fits all, so we would be looking at the flexibility and the different demographics within a company to find them the benefits that are suitable. For example, a graduate just coming out of university, what is the next milestone in their life? Is it that they start saving for their pensions or is it that they want to buy a house and clear debts? Businesses should be structuring their benefits around what their employees need for their situation.

What are your core values and why are they important to you?

We have four core values: do the right thing, find a better way, enjoy the journey, and play for each other. 

They were actually the first things we decided on and we constantly check ourselves to make sure we are still doing what we said we would do and over time we know they will change as more Pandas come on board but we know values shouldn’t be set in stone. 

Find a better way is key it explains our ethos. We are here to help companies become self-sufficient in whatever they initially needed help with. Our aim is to constantly help companies upskill so that they can complete the services they request from us within their own work force, meaning they would no longer need us to do that task for them. So, for us to survive as a business, we constantly need to be bettering ourselves to produce new services to help businesses adapt. 

Our strapline is ‘amplify, grow, and unleash’. Taking all that global knowledge and experience that we’ve all got collectively in different fields of HR, coming together, amplifying what teams already have in their business, growing them and literally unleashing them. If we don’t continually grow ourselves as individuals, we can’t then help to grow others.

What do you think sets you apart from your competition?

What we think differentiates us is that we don’t work with companies, we partner with them.  We aspire to be the Netflix of HR. As Netflix learns about a viewer’s likes and dislikes, it gets better at recommending them shows.  As we get to know a company better, we get better at personalising our services to our partners. 

Also, our experience. We are newly out of working in a global organisation and we really think that sets us apart. We were the customer at the beginning of the year, and we understand the current customer needs and challenges.

We are not all HR generalists, we’ve got that covered and between us we are experts in a number of specialist fields from talent acquisition, culture, engagement, HR technology, payroll, benefits, leadership, and strategy. We love technology and data, and we want to underpin everything we do with insights and are always thinking about how we can automate processes to make things easier for our clients. 

The better a company can automate admin, the more time they can dedicate to their people.. A pain point for HR today is getting bogged down in paperwork, whereas we really believe in getting technology to do that part for you and then having the data and the insight to drive what you should be doing. For example, managers having dashboards at their fingertips, helping them see in real time how engaged their people are so it is never reactive, they can be proactive in improving employee situations. 

How has it been, starting a company during COVID-19?

There were definitely challenges, such as it took us some time to get our desks as they were being supplied off Island. 

It has though cemented our focus on the Isle of Man. We come with a global mindset, but the Isle of Man is in our hearts and our souls. 

COVID has definitely had an impact on business and how people think about their staff. We have been talking about trust, autonomy, and empowerment, three key things, and they have been happening a lot more. It has forced businesses to re-think how their people work. It is very interesting to see from a distance how companies are going back to their old ways already now that people are going back to the office, here on the Isle of Man particularly.

What are your goals for the future?

Right now, our goal is to expand our people base so we can go out and partner with more companies. There are only a few us at the minute and it’s already starting to get quite busy. 

We would love Crimson Panda to be known on the island for being a company that adds true value to our partner companies as well as the Island itself. 

We would like people on the Isle of Man to certainly have a different opinion of what HR is. We want HR 3.0 to be the standard and that to be able to compete here, you have to have good employee experience.


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