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Horwich Farrelly at 50: Scott Neal shares his #HFhighlight

2019 marks Horwich Farrelly’s 50th anniversary so to mark the occasion each week one of our people shares details of their proudest achievement from their time at the firm in a series called #HFhighlights. This week it’s the turn of Internal Communications Manager, Scott Neal.

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Internal Communications Manager, Scott Neal

When did you start working at Horwich Farrelly?
I joined the firm in April 2014.

Before joining the firm what was your most unusual job?
There have been so many it’s hard to pick. I originally started out in journalism where one minute I could be interviewing a politician, the next I’d be at court covering the trial of serial killer, Harold Shipman. I’ve also been paid to appear in police line-ups a few times (don’t worry they didn’t pick me!), written a column for a lifestyle magazine, and designed more than a dozen show homes.

Aside from Horwich Farrelly, the most enjoyable work I’ve done was the sales and marketing I did at a property developer. Helping first-time buyers get on the housing ladder and guiding them through what can be a daunting process is something I’m really proud of.

What does a typical day look like for you at Horwich Farrelly?
At the risk of repeating what most of my colleagues have said when sharing their own #HFhighlight, I don’t think there is such a thing as a typical day for me.

Essentially my role is to make sure our people are kept informed about what is happening across the firm, and to listen to and act on their feedback. In a typical day I might be working on campaigns ranging from updates on business strategy, talking about new appointments and promotions or encouraging colleagues to sign up for the many fundraising opportunities we organise across our eight offices.

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Scott (pictured far left) and other volunteers from the firm’s network of Green Champions

We also do a lot of longer-term campaigns to raise awareness of issues relating to mental health and wellbeing and, as Chair of our Green Champions network, work closely with the business to look at ways of improving our sustainability, most recently making a pledge to eliminate single-use plastics by 2020.

Lately, much of my time has been spent working on a new intranet – I’m really excited to hear what our people think of it when it’s rolled out.

How has your career progressed since joining the firm?
I joined the firm as a Marketing Communications Manager in what was then a brand new Business Development & Marketing team. It was a broad role where I was responsible for promoting Horwich Farrelly in the press, as well as on TV for the likes of the BBC’s Claimed & Shamed series. I also worked closely with our legal experts to ensure our clients were kept informed about important cases or court rulings.

Having not come from a legal background there was a lot to learn but the support I was offered was second to none.

With the team growing the decision was made last year to split the role into two: one dedicated to internal communications, and a second tasked with external communications. I went for the former as I really enjoy the creativity it affords.

One of the best bits of the new role has been visiting colleagues in our offices outside Manchester, to learn more about what’s happening in their respective areas. It made me better appreciate how much talent and expertise we have across the business. Plus the encouragement I’ve been given to become a more specialist communicator shows how important employee engagement is to the firm.

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The campaign encouraged colleagues to send ‘Thanks’ to those who have gone the extra mile – either online or via an app. Perks including additional leave and gift vouchers are then awarded each month.

What has been the biggest highlight of your time at Horwich Farrelly?
In 2016, the results of our annual employee survey showed that less than half of our people felt they regularly received recognition for going the extra mile. Part of the problem was that we had grown so quickly – from around 525 employees to more than 750 in around a year – that it became much harder to acknowledge when colleagues did a great job.

After looking at a range of solutions we opted for ThanksBox (recently rebranded as Mo), an online platform that allows employees at all levels to send messages to colleagues or teams. Using the platform is really simple, however, we felt that we needed a campaign to really capture people’s attention, and help embed a culture of recognition.

We launched ThanksBox with a quirky campaign created entirely in-house where we encouraged colleagues to ‘think inside the box’. The impact was better than we could have imagined, with more than nine in ten employees using the platform after the launch and, for many, sending a message to thank someone is now second nature.

For the firm to go with an offbeat approach speaks volumes in how you’re encouraged to innovate and think unconventionally. To go on to win in the category of Excellence in Reward & Recognition at the HR in Law Awards was the icing on the cake!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and outside interests?
My biggest passion is travel; in recent years I’ve been lucky enough to spend quite a bit of time in countries including Japan, Jordan, Cuba, Vietnam and New Zealand.

I’ve also technically stepped foot in North Korea after visiting the Demilitarised Zone on a trip from Seoul. On the tour you’re allowed to enter the infamous blue huts and cross the border for a few minutes, all the time under the watch of heavily armed troops from both sides. It was very surreal but definitely an experience to remember!

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Scott in Jordan (left), Japan (top right), and the North Korean border (bottom right)

What makes working at Horwich Farrelly different from other firms?
I never saw myself working at a law firm as I pictured them as being a bit stuffy and old fashioned, however, Horwich Farrelly isn’t like that at all. We work hard but at the same time everyone is genuinely friendly and approachable. I also really appreciate the relaxed dress code and flexibility around start times, as it really helps with maintaining a good work/life balance.

What advice would you give to others starting out in their career with the firm?
Don’t be afraid to speak up and pitch ideas. As we showed with the launch of ThanksBox what might sound like an unusual approach to something might be exactly what’s needed to get the job done properly.

To see #HFhighlights from other Horwich Farrelly colleagues please click here.

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