Lockdown Team Blog - Series 2: Sarah Pickerill

26 January 2021

3 minutes to read.


Last year, our teams produced a series of blogs written by colleagues across multiple divisions of the company. They provided a small insight into our evolving working practices and values as we all adjusted to our new post-COVID19 world. Now we're back with our second series!

Here is the third in our 2nd series of posts from our Head of People, Sarah Pickerill and The People Team at Carpenters Group.


Since March last year, so much has changed for the department; not least welcoming our new Head of People, Sarah Pickerill who started during the first week of lockdown. Whilst we haven’t been together in the office, we have a daily Teams catch up call which could last anything from 5 minutes up to half an hour, but ensures everyone is prepared for the day ahead and can share ideas, successes or challenges.

Although lots has changed, the team are committed to ensuring that Carpenters is a fantastic place to work, with modern practises, high employee engagement and a culture we are all proud of.  We asked the team to work together to give an overview of a typical employee journey and where they have made improvements, even during this challenging time.

Human Resources

The most important thing for the HR team has been supporting our colleagues through a very challenging year. We know many of our colleagues have faced personal struggles resulting from the global pandemic. Mental health and wellbeing have been at the forefront of our minds as people have adjusted to working from home. Alongside the many welcome benefits to peoples’ work / life balance, for some home working or furlough has disrupted routines and created feelings of isolation, stress and uncertainty. 

Very early on, we brought together the Wellbeing Champions who are trained Mental Health First Aiders.  We meet every month and discuss how we can best help colleagues via signposting, awareness raising and initiatives to support through talking and communication such as Brew Monday.  We have also introduced offerings such as the monthly mindfulness sessions, which is a great tool to support wellbeing.

We have taken the opportunity this year to improve our processes, which means, amongst a number of positive improvements, the HR team now have more time to spend supporting managers and employees. Manual excel trackers have been replaced or improved as the HR system is now the central hub for all personnel details, increasing accuracy and efficiency of reporting. Digital efficiency has enabled HR to add value in other areas such as holding welcome chats with new starters and providing one to one coaching on policies and procedures with managers.

Eloise Sochanik has recently joined the People team and we are excited to see the positive impact Eloise’s knowledge and experience within Corporate and Social Responsibility, alongside diversity, will bring to the wider business.


From advertising through to onboarding, every aspect of recruitment at Carpenters is now electronic. All interviews take place virtually via Microsoft Teams, so gone are the days of handshakes and suits! This new approach means we can accommodate candidate’s location and availability, as well as that of our colleagues. Anyone joining the business now receives all of their new starter information via email and have to complete it electronically.  This means that we have significantly reduced the timeframes for getting new starters ready to go. Covid adjustment checks are now in place for all new starters to ensure compliance with right to work legislation. Despite the current situation, recruitment has been steady throughout the year, with specific growth in our new home legal team, based on a contract we won during Covid.

Learning & Development

With all of our onboarding conducted virtually, it is more important than ever that we make a great first impression on our new colleagues.  With so many people starting their new role from home, we still want them to feel that same excitement, meeting as many new people as possible, and with every interaction as meaningful as we can make it.  Our online induction gives the right information and training, enabling colleagues to settle into their new roles quickly and effectively.  Much of the induction delivery always was via eLearning and we have combined that with a programme to ensure people feel welcome and know where to turn if they have any queries.  We are also adapting the learning we provide to the business in general, particularly those who cannot work from home, and as we bring more people back to the office later in the year. The changed landscape for development means that virtual learning environments will be even more prominent in supporting traditional ‘classroom’ based sessions, which means we can also cater for lots of different learning styles.

About the author 

Sarah Pickerill, Head of People

Sarah Joined Carpenters Group as Head of People, responsible for leading our HR, Recruitment and Learning & Development teams as well as working closely  with all teams across the business.

Sarah has worked in professional services firms within the HR and Development team for over 20 years, most recently as a HR & Development Director. Her role will see her ensure Carpenters continues to be a fantastic place to work, where people are listened to, innovation is embraced and people feel valued as they help grow both their own career and our business. Sarah wants to ensure working practices are modern, that employee engagement is high and that we have a culture, which we are all proud to belong to.