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Head of HR

Who are we?

First Rail is one of the UK's most experienced rail operators, carrying more than 345m passengers across four franchises (Great Western Railway, South Western Railway, and Avanti West Coast) and our open access operators (Hull Trains and the newly launched Lumo). We operate all types of passenger railways - intercity, commuter, regional and sleeper services.

We are continually seeking ways in which to improve the experience for our customers. Our Customer Contact Centre uses industry leading systems to deliver excellent customer service and ensure that requests are speedily and effectively resolved.

Our delivery teams are responsible for a variety of customer support matters which range from processing customer compensation claims to complaints handling, group bookings and assisted/special services, quality assurance and fraud prevention and detection and retails sales to individuals and corporates.

First Customer Contact is part of FirstGroup, the largest rail operator in the UK and second largest bus operator in the UK outside London. FirstGroup operates services throughout the UK and Ireland, with over 30,000 employees providing services that make travel smoother and life easier. FirstGroup works hard to reduce its impact on the environment, introducing cleaner and more environmentally responsible methods of transport.


About the job

As part of the Senior Leadership Team, you will hold a pivotal role in delivering the strategic and operational HR agenda for the contact centre, overseeing, and leading the Human Resources Department along with working collaboratively with the Central HR team within First Rail.

You will be passionate in engaging the Senior Leadership Team in key areas such as:

  • Talent management
  • Optimising workforce performance and management
  • Employee relations and engagement
  • Values and culture
  • Improving, designing, and implementing HR Policies


Your main responsibilities will be:

  • Provide strategic direction for the HR department, ensuring alignment with the overall strategy.
  • Ensure values and culture are clearly defined, communicated, and embedded within First Customer Contact
  • Provide professional advice and guidance on people management practices, optimising workforce performance.
  • Support the Senior Leadership team in the delivery of transformation and change projects.
  • Support and oversee the management of both short and long-term absence, including occupational health referrals and recommendations for resolution.
  • Support managers with the full range of employee relations issues including disciplinary cases (up to and including dismissal), grievances, flexible working requests and long-term absence.
  • Overseeing the Recruitment and selection process, ensuring the organisation attracts and hires talented individuals who align with First Customer Contact's values and culture.
  • Ensure that all HR records are accurately maintained in respect of joiners, leavers and any contractual changes and that supporting correspondence is issued in a timely manner.
  • Designing and implementing HR policies and procedures that comply with employment laws, ensuring that HR information is user friendly and accessible including the intranet site, policies, procedures, letter templates and contractual documentation.
  • Stay updated on HR best practices and changes in employment laws and industry trends to continuously improve HR policies and business procedures.
  • Oversee the performance review cycle including probationary reviews and the annual appraisal process. Provide support and training to managers and implement any training and development requests.
  • Provide regular reports and analysis for the senior management team in relation to engagement and retention, equality and diversity, absence and grievances/disciplinaries with a view to driving the business priorities to ensure the strategy can be met and maintained.
  • Oversee the maintenance of all staff records to always ensure GDPR compliance and confidentiality.


You'll need to have: 

  • Proven success in a Head of HR or HR Director position, CIPD qualified or equivalent and managing a HR function in a fast-paced environment.
  • Proven experience in effective leadership, implementing HR initiatives and managing organisational change.
  • A proven ability to demonstrate integrity, confidentiality, and ethical conduct in handling sensitive HR matters.
  • A strong attention to detail, excellent organisation, written and verbal communication skills.
  • Computer literacy, you must be able to easily operate in terms of checking and maintaining data and responding to emails utilising chat services.


About the location

First Customer Contact is located ten minutes' walk from the Sheffield Station (The Square, 2 Broad Street West, S1 2BQ. With travel to other UK locations as appropriate.


Working pattern

37.5 hours per week, Monday to Friday. However, the contact centre operates from 0600 to 2300 on all seven days of the week (including Bank Holidays) and therefore some attendance outside the core hours will be expected.


The Reward

  • A Travel Pass which entitles you to free travel on the FirstGroup Bus.
  • Discounted travel for you and your family on our trains (Avanti West Coast, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, Lumo and Southwestern Railway) after 6 months of service
  • 25 days holiday (plus Public Holidays)
  • Contributory pension scheme
  • Life Insurance
  • Discounted Gym Membership to help you stay fit for less
  • Discounts at over 100 retailers, including well-known high-street shops, cinema tickets, flights, and holiday bookings through our in-house rewards package.
  • Discounts on selected local retailers & brands
  • Engaging and vibrant environment


We all belong at First Customer Contact. FirstGroup's vision is to provide an inclusive environment for all colleagues, across its group of businesses, ensuring all candidates have an equal opportunity to access meaningful employment. 

We value our differences such as age, gender, LGBTQIA+, ethnicity, religion, and disability. We maintain a zero tolerance towards any form of prejudice towards our colleagues, customers, and future talent.

We celebrate and encourage diversity of thought, progressive ways of working and seeing all our colleagues grow and thrive.

We review all roles and job descriptions to ensure they are accessible and, where possible, we support and provide flexible working options; we recommend that you refer to each vacancy description for further details.

If you require additional support to complete your application due to a disability or neurodivergent condition, for example, dyslexia, dyspraxia, or autism, please follow the links below. We encourage you to share any additional needs you may require so we can provide a fair and equal process for all who apply.

Close map
First Contact Centre, The Square Sheffield
2 Broad Street West, Sheffield, England, S1 2BQ
  • Ref:
  • Company:
    First Customer Contact Ltd
  • Website Skillset:
  • Contract Type:
    Permanent - Full Time
  • Contracted Hours:
  • Location:
    First Contact Centre, The Square Sheffield
  • Salary:
    Up To £75,000 DOE
  • Closing Date:
    6 October 2023
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