At OxTS, we encourage our customers to interact with us as people as well as an organisation. Our customers enjoy direct relationships with our team, embedding deep partnerships and working together, almost as an extension of each other’s teams. Achieving any breakthrough or innovation requires collaboration, and our team consistently – almost relentlessly – delivers solutions to ensure our customers can measure with confidence. OxTS people truly care. Here to tell us more about the OxTS team and a ‘day in her life’ as HR Manager, is Nikki Thompson:
1. When did you join OxTS, and what appealed to you about working for the Company?
I joined OxTS in 2013, and felt positive vibes at my initial interview. The people and the technology appealed to me and I immediately knew that OxTS was a company I wanted to be a part of. When I met the team I’d be directly working with, that cemented my decision. I could tell that OxTS was an organisation that treated their employees with fairness and respect. Initially, I joined as an administrator, and never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d follow the progression path that I have. However, nine years later, I am working as the HR Manager and right in the heart of the business. I’m living proof that OxTS values employee development.
2. What might a typical day in your role as OxTS’ HR Manager look like?
I don’t really have a ‘typical’ day in my role. OxTS has grown exponentially since I first joined, but remains a relatively small company. My work can really vary because we all like to get stuck in and help each other out.
I’ve been part of the COVID Response Team over the past couple of years, focused on ensuring that our employees can work from both the office and their home environments safely and effectively. We’ve worked on additional health and safety measures and recently introduced our Hybrid Working Policy.
The business is doing very well and the last six months in particular has seen a recruitment drive to support growth. We have welcomed so many new faces into our organisation, including an intake of six graduate engineers into our Engineering department. If you want to be part of our growing organisation or know someone who would, please check our current vacancies.
I have a great HR team and together we manage the employee life cycle as well as future-proofing the business. We have recently been focussing on progression paths for our engineers, allowing them to take greater ownership of their career development within OxTS. Based on the very positive feedback we have received, we plan to roll this out into the wider business to support more employees’ career development.
3. What’s a work-related accomplishment that you’re really proud of?
In 2018, we introduced our mental health first aiders scheme, and we now have ten percent of our employees trained to be mental health first aiders. At OxTS we take pride in our measures to support our employees with their wellbeing and with the COVID restrictions imposed on us all over the last couple of years, this has become more important than ever.
During the height of the pandemic, we ran various incentives to boost morale, including a monthly Zoom quiz, and a walking challenge that saw employees complete a distance equivalent to walking from Canada to the OxTS offices in Oxfordshire, in memory of a much-missed colleague. We sent out occasional care packages, such as teabags to encourage our employees to have a ‘tea break catch up with a colleague’, and sunflower seeds to spread some green-fingered cheer. We also ran a photography competition and used the winning photos to make our 2022 employee calendar! We’ve just introduced our Wellbeing Library, with information on services that can be accessed, including our Employee Assistance Programme, and a selection of mental health-related books that are free for employees to borrow to support themselves, their families and their friends.
We have worked hard as an organisation to create a safe environment for our employees to discuss their mental health, and I am proud to have been part of that.
4. What’s been your most challenging project so far for OxTS, and how did you overcome it?
Like all companies, we’ve had to deal with COVID, and this has been the most challenging time for me at OxTS. However, as usual at OxTS, we rose to the challenge and delivered a safe and secure workplace for everyone, in line with ever changing requirements.
Prior to the first lockdown, we formed the COVID Response Team – and this team is still assessing and managing risks two years down the line. With great IT systems we were able to adapt to many employees working from home at extremely short notice, and we worked hard, and quickly, to ensure safety measures and controls were put in to place at our Manufacturing site, which remained open. The Operations team and Facilities manager also set up a second site so we could better protect employees and continue to deliver for our customers.
We introduced socially-distanced desks and extra cleaning regimes very quickly, and we continue to work at making things safer. We recently introduced CO2 monitors in all of our offices to help us to ensure adequate ventilation. Our priority has been to keep all employees and their families safe, and whilst it’s been hard work, it’s rewarding to know that together we’ve managed to mitigate any COVID outbreaks. Our next challenge is to turn these learnings in to long-term improvements, so we continue to be a great place to work.
5. What’s the company culture like at OxTS?
OxTS has fostered a culture that means above all else, ‘we do the right thing’. We are a diverse and ambitious team who are excited about what we do, the technology we use and the difference we make for customers whether in safer driving systems, more accurate mapping, innovative autonomous solutions, or another of our many applications.
We have created a community in which our teams build meaningful relationships over shared values of customer-centricity, fairness, innovation, quality, and teamwork. We drive peer-to-peer feedback through schemes such as our Recognition Awards and encourage collaborative working.
As the HR Manager at OxTS, I value openness and honesty, and understand that everyone has their own journey. This helps to create an open and engaging environment, where our employees, as well as our customers, are at the heart of our organisation.
6. What would we most likely find you doing at the weekend?
I love a woodland walk or being by water. The places I really enjoy visiting are Farmoor Reservoir or Wychwood wild gardens, both very different places, but both places I enjoy walking around. We are lucky to have so many great places on our doorstep in Oxfordshire.
When I can, I will always try and get a coastal break, and I’ve spent much of the past couple of years exploring Devon and Cornwall. Most recently, I went to Fowey in Cornwall and stayed over-looking the Quay, the views were beautiful and I was lucky with the weather despite it being January!
When I am not doing that, I tend to be a bit of a social butterfly, spending my time catching up with family and friends. We are really lucky to have a great work/life balance at OxTS; we know how important it is to have some down time away from the office.
7. What are you most looking forward to in the year ahead at OxTS?
Ambitious growth! Since I joined OxTS we have been constantly growing. We were a team of about 30 people when I joined. Employee headcount has more than doubled since then, and we continue to grow and introduce new people to our teams all the time.
I get a real sense of achievement from bringing people on-board and watching them develop in their roles, whether through their increased confidence, promotions within their current teams, or widening their knowledge through moving across to different departments. We offer many opportunities in OxTS; for example, you might start in Engineering, but if you think that Commercial is where you want to be then we will work with you to help make that happen.
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