I joined Miller Brands as Head of HR in 2010 and at that time we had just over 90 employees and our mandate was simple: hire the right people, for the right roles at the right time.

Since then  the company has grown exponentially and we now number 145 employees – and counting. The mandate has also evolved: to develop people and the company culture, engage employees in the business and build on their passion for beer. The world around us has also changed and this has meant that both our employees and the HR function have needed to adapt. It’s been talked about for a long-time and it reflects wider changes but HR must now truly partner the business and add value at a commercial level, whilst still remaining authentic to HR values and ideals.

This new world of HR is reflective of the way the business, the industry and we as human beings have changed. In my 20-year career (ouch, is it really that long!), one learning that stands out above everything else is that companies are people – and without people no business can succeed. At Miller Brands, it’s my responsibility to recruit, develop, reward, engage and manage our people. Most importantly, my team and I strive to keep people with the company and to bring out the best in them while they’re with us.

One of the key programmes we use to engage new and existing employees is ‘Passionate About Beer’. We are one step removed from our source breweries so we want to ensure that everyone in our business can talk with passion and credibility about our brands, as well as more generally about beer. To do this we have engaged with a local micro-brewery to provide taste sessions and brewery tours and to educate employees on the ingredients of our beers in a fun and exciting way. We are in the process of designing an “app” to enable instant access to this knowledge via a smartphone or tablet.

Yet is this enough? What more can we do to recruit and retain employees if we truly want to shape the future of the business? It is these questions that keeps me occupied when I go horse-riding or hill walking at the weekend!

In recent years, competition to retain strong talent has increased – one factor behind this is social media and the way candidates are recruited. At no given point is there confirmation that the candidate you have interviewed and strived to get into your business is on-board until they physically walk through the door. This is why we have developed an HR portal within the new Miller Brands website.

The purpose of the portal is simple: to keep new recruits engaged, excited and informed about the company in which their future lies. The moment we hear ‘yes’ to a job offer our future employees are offered access to the portal and can view welcome videos from our MD, discover more about our culture, learn about the benefits package available and of course the brands we import and distribute and about which we are so passionate.  This portal does not take away from the human contact, it just supports it, and means the individual can start to feel part of Miller Brands before they even walk through the door – ensuring engagement and minimising the possibility of them changing their minds. We also provide them with a voucher to buy and taste our beers at their leisure in a restaurant or local pub, this creates the passion for our beers before they even start work.

It’s important to nurture employees and whilst it may sound clichéd, as a relatively small business (albeit part of a much larger one!), we have a strong family ethic – we work and win together. And Miller Brands output and results are stronger now than ever before.

If you want to learn more about our business and to get a sense of who we are why not visit our new website at www.millerbrands.co.uk

Julia Wellard, Head of HR at Miller Brands.