A day in the life of… Head of HR operations at YouView TV Joanna Forkan

Jo Forkan is Head of HR operations at YouView TV Limited. She’s been at the hybrid television platform since July 2018. YouView provides access to free-to-air digital terrestrial television and TV on demand.

My typical day starts…

Early. There’s no typical day as such though. It really depends on what projects we’ve got going on. But as a rule, I tend to wake up at 6am—I’m definitely a morning person! Which is lucky, as my husband and I have just got a springer spaniel puppy (called Toby) so I get up early to feed him and let him go outside.

Working out the day’s priorities

I leave for the train station about 6:45am, which gets me into the office about 8am. This gives me a bit of headspace at the beginning of the day to work out what I’ve got on and decide on my priorities before everyone else arrives.

What’s on my desk right now

My morning’s often spent getting on with our priority projects.

Payday has just been, which went without a hitch—thank goodness—but because we’re paying our staff early this month (December in time for Christmas), we’re now starting payroll again this week. So that’s our priority.

Although my colleague’s doing most of the hands-on work for this, I still need to make sure I’m available to support and check everything’s correct. Payroll has been the focus for a while now. It’s one of those things that’s obviously 100% crucial we get right.

Implementing changes

We’re also just wrapping up our employee engagement survey, so I’ll be pulling the results from that this week and having a look at how we’re doing. We run the survey once a month and try to put into place the learnings where we can.

Our approach is to focus on different areas and see what tweaks we can make. For example, we’ve implemented a management development programme to give more focus for new and existing managers in the business about what it means to be a manager at YouView. This has so far had positive feedback.

Encouraging career progression

Another big project we’re finalizing now is our internal career paths. One of the suggestions that came up in our employee engagement survey was that people couldn’t necessarily see their distinct career path. This tends to be a challenge in small companies—there’s a limit to the number of roles that become available.

However, if we can at least define the different levels and career paths we can help our staff to better understand what they need to be doing to be considered for those roles. But without making it too complex or HR-esque!

My own career progression

A few years ago, I did a postgraduate certificate in psychology of management, which I think is quite important in HR. One of the things that really captured my attention was positive psychology, and using your strengths to improve your performance, rather than focusing on improving your weaknesses. I think this helps people to know where to focus their energy.

Better being busy than bored

The days usually fly by. I have to be careful with my time, but you also have to be very flexible in HR. So I plan for the big things—knowing what my big projects are and when they need to be delivered. Then I fit in all the little bits and pieces that pop in in between that you have to pick up in between, such as when someone needs a quick chat that ends up taking half an hour!

The biggest challenge for HR

I think the biggest challenge for HR today is automating even more of the manual, admin tasks. Automating creates more time for the value-added and strategic work because you have the data at your fingertips. There’s so much people data and information that will help us to get one step ahead if we can harness it.

The biggest challenge for us at YouView is finding the right people. Especially in the tech industry, we’re competing with all sorts of other cool-sounding tech companies, so it’s about finding ways of sourcing and keeping those people.

As the day draws to a close

I usually leave the office just after 5pm and go and pick up Toby from doggy daycare. All my ways of relaxing are currently dog related. My husband and I love going on walks with him.

Meals are usually whatever’s quick and easy. We sometimes use recipe kits, which are great – it forces us to cook and they’re easy to use as everything’s pre-measured for you. We’ve also just got a slow cooker in the hope that it’ll encourage my husband to cook more!

The early bird catches the worm

By the time I’ve fed Toby (and us) and watched a bit of TV, it’s about 10pm and time for bed. I’m usually shattered. I can cope well with getting up early, I can’t cope with staying up late.

I sometimes read before bed. At the moment, I’m reading a book I was given as a birthday present called the ‘7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle’. It’s quite complicated, but it’s worth persevering with. Then I’m usually out like a light.

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