Ensuring compliance and making clever use of HR time at leading sexual health and wellbeing charity

Brook has been supporting young people’s sexual health and wellbeing since 1964. At a time when unmarried women didn’t have access to contraception or sexual health services, Helen Brook blazed a trail by opening the first Brook clinic.

Today Brook helps young people in over 20 regions of the UK. The scope of Brook’s services, nature of its work, and geographical spread all present challenges that Brook’s HR team meet with ingenuity and creativity. We’re very proud to partner with Brook, and to help the charity in its important work that is expanding and improving more lives every day.

Brook charity case study

Sarah Hogg, Brook’s People and Organisational Development Manager, spoke with us about Brook’s work with Cezanne HR. The charity has been using the Cezanne HR system since 2015 – around the same time that Brook consolidated multiple regional offices into one organisation.

With that change, it was more essential than ever that their data and processes for their own people were secure and well managed. They chose Cezanne HR as their HR systems, starting with the core People Management module. Sarah then added the Absence Management module, and is looking at further modules to meet their evolving business needs.

Read on for our interview with Sarah…

Can you please tell me a bit more about Brook?

I’ve been at Brook for 2 years. It’s quite a big charity – we have about 250 people spread across England, with a small presence in Wales, too. Brook is still predominantly focused on young people’s sexual health and wellbeing (our mission from the get-go), but we’re now also looking at some all-ages services.

At Brook, we are always balancing delivering and imparting the latest knowledge and best practice in the field, both through our clinical and educational services. Working smarter and embracing digital technology is essential for us to continue to fulfil our mission – and working with Cezanne HR is part of that.

When did Brook first start working with Cezanne HR?

Brook began using Cezanne HR back in 2015 – before I started with the organisation. At the time, the organisation had a big challenge – to bring together 17 independent charities into one national body. Cezanne HR was selected as the platform for consolidating and validating employee data. Its flexibility meant we could accommodate all of the different contractual working arrangements, and help drive better insight and consistency across the organisation.

In the last two years I’ve expanded our use of the system by rolling out Absence Management to all Brook staff. We know that everyone likes to book leave, so using this module meant people had a real interest in trying it.

I’ve been happy with how our staff have responded to the system. In our recent staff survey, we asked our managers if they agreed with the statement ‘I know how to use the HR system, Cezanne’. 96% agreed or strongly agreed. A lot of our staff use multiple systems in their work, so this is a good result.

Brook charity office

How has working with Cezanne HR helped your HR team?

There are four of us in our HR team, so we’re a small team dealing with a high workload. We know that we need to be clever about how we use our time to have the most impact.

Cezanne HR has helped us by providing us with templates and automating our processes, making it possible to gather all personnel information in one place. It’s important we have the right processes in place to support our managers, and to then empower our managers to run with them. This approach works well at Brook with our very positive and professional culture.

Brook has always been innovative and pioneering. We balance this with financial prudence, being creative in getting the most from our systems. Cezanne HR is a great match for us because it flexes with our needs. It allows our HR team to service a complex and big organisation, with lots of staff and important data. For example, we have people working different hours in different locations, so a system that helps us manage that is invaluable.

The flexibility of the system – and the support we get from Cezanne HR’s professional services team – has made a real difference to us. As we change as an organisation, it’s good to know that the system and their service, will grow with us. We’re not willing to ‘settle’ for second best, and Cezanne HR has proven they’ll work alongside us, tailoring the system to make sure it meets our needs.

How does using Cezanne HR boost Brook’s employee engagement?

Using Cezanne HR has really helped me with employee engagement. When we wanted to remind people to complete our recent staff survey, sending the reminder from the Cezanne HR system was the best solution. Everyone is using the system and people engage with it. I know the data in it is up to date, and it was really quick and easy to send the reminder out that way.

We use notifications to remind staff when their DBS certificate is due to expire, when it is time for nurses to revalidate, and when mandatory training needs to be completed. I really like the flexibility of the notifications in that you can tailor the wording and choose who the notifications go to. You can include line managers, too.

I’m also interested in doing pulse surveys through Cezanne HR when the functionality is released. And once again when the time comes to use it, we will tailor it to Brook’s specific needs.

I really like that Cezanne HR always has ongoing development work. It’s important to our brand to be ahead of the curve, and our HR system helps us stay ahead as a function. And because Cezanne HR has so much development going on, the support team’s help in understanding the system’s capabilities has been great.

Can you tell me how Cezanne HR is helping Brook with compliance?

Our head of nursing asked for a database to hold all our nursing staff’s qualifications. It’s particularly important that the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) registration is completed every year, and we needed a central recording system to evidence this. Alongside the Cezanne HR support team, we created a custom field specifically for recording NMC numbers. Now if we have a CQC inspection and this information is requested, the data is readily available via our HR system.

To maintain our record of NMC registrations, we use Cezanne HR’s automated notifications to send reminders and customised emails to nurses and their managers. These reminders help to make sure everyone is keeping their records up to date – a constant challenge due to the volume of systems our nurses use.

The two short videos that the Cezanne HR support team created for our nurse managers on updating re-registrations and entering a new calendar event for revalidation are really helpful. Because HR and general staff see two different sides to the HR system, the videos from the staff’s viewpoint are invaluable – our people think, ‘okay, this is how my Cezanne HR looks and this is where I need to go.’

Have you worked on any other customisations with Cezanne HR?

Yes, we also customised a field for recording DBS checks. We work with vulnerable people, and it’s critical that DBS checks are valid and up-to-date – staff can’t start work for us without one. Alongside the reminder sent by the DBS service, there is now a reminder from the Cezanne HR system for Brook staff and their line managers.
The HR system is also helping us to move people onto the DBS’ Update service, which means we won’t have to chase paper-based renewals every 3 years and can make annual spot checks against these records, therefore improving our strong commitment to safeguarding.

What Cezanne HR modules will you roll out next?

We’re almost certainly going to implement the Performance Management module over the next year. We have all our appraisal forms organised and we’re in discussions with customer support about how we can move them onto Cezanne HR.
Like with every other aspect of our Cezanne HR roll out, we want to make sure it’s done properly. We’re grateful that the professional services team at Cezanne HR takes the time to talk through the solutions with us, often face to face. As a charity focused on care and education, we appreciate the highly personal and attentive service that Cezanne HR offers us.

Find out more about Brook