Lorna Ashworth, MD of Ashworth Black

once-upon-a-time

Lorna Ashworth, MD of Ashworth Black

As a Royal Naval Reserve officer, Lorna Ashworth put to sea on one occasion with The Princess Royal, Princess Anne on board… It was a memorable day, indeed.

But, Lorna remembers just as well how, as a Lieutenant Commander with the Reserve, she became involved in HR matters for the first time and how this helped her decide how to chart a way to success in business. Her company, Ashworth Black Ltd operates in the niche pay and rewards field, currently working with 15 clients with nine more proposals out for discussion.

“I was helping Reserve staff with training, welfare and management matters and I found it interesting, stimulating and rewarding, nothing like my day job had turned out to be,” said managing director, Lorna. That “day job” was writing, as a genetics expert and linguist, articles for scientific journals.  “All of a sudden, it wasn’t what I wanted to do, people were far more interesting than science findings,” said Lorna, who formed her Bo’ness-based company in 1999.

Lorna specialises in providing bespoke systems and solutions in areas such as pay structures and progression, bonuses and incentive schemes, salary and benefit benchmarking, equal pay audits and reducing costs. But to break into the HR world, she first completed a postgraduate course in personnel management at Edinburgh’s Napier University and she has, in her own words, “never looked back”. After a dozen or so years in the industry, Lorna was determined and ready to set up on her own and over the past 17 years, Ashworth Black has worked with The National Trust for Scotland, Scottish Rugby, Fife Council, Investors in People Scotland as well as the Royal College of General Practitioners, among many others.

“It is very much a niche business and what we aim for is that our clients become self-sufficient when we finish working for them,” said Lorna. “And that’s not the case with a lot of high-powered, London-based consultancies who I know were charging £2,500 a day way back in 1998. They didn’t seem to listen to their clients and certainly didn’t tailor what they were offering to individual businesses – and I didn’t think that was right, and it just wasn’t the way I wanted to work. I believe that working away from the city enables us to provide direct cost savings to our customers. Every element of an Ashworth Black solution for a client’s pay and reward system is focused on a company’s business strategy and culture. We don’t sell off-the-shelf solutions. Instead, to help companies achieve corporate goals, reduce costs, become competitive within the market while attracting, retaining and rewarding quality employees, and becoming an employer of choice, we avoid the “one size fits all” approach at all times. We never seek to make a client’s problem fit our solution, we do the exact opposite of that.”

Lorna is committed to her pay and reward consultants designing pay practices to help an organisation meet its operational objectives in both the short and long term, no matter the complexity and scale of the project. Lorna and her team deal with the management, operation and process of all aspects of pay and reward systems that are used to incentivise employees. “People matter and relationships are vitally important. They are the key element of working with and understanding clients, their issues and challenges,” said Lorna.

Reward strategies sought by companies and organisations are a combination of the policy, process and practices of how people are paid in order to achieve company goals. The current most important reward strategies involve Performance Related Pay, Competence Related Pay, Skill Based Pay, Equal Pay Audits (Gender Gap Reporting), Bonus Schemes and Recognition Schemes.

“Our HR Reward Strategies help clients design and implement a complete strategy for compensating, rewarding and motivating staff and this helps them move on confidently. At the end of a project we want the client to be self sufficient with systems implemented, meaning there should be no need for any future service agreements with us. That’s what we aim for with each and every client,” said Lorna, who is a nifty ballroom dancer and even has a dance studio with a sprung floor in her home. “It’s a marvellous way to switch off,” she added.

Lorna is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. She has worked in the public and private sectors in all HR disciplines and has over 20 years experience of designing and implementing reward systems. Lorna, as Managing Director of Ashworth Black, is regularly asked to speak at HR conferences and has had many articles published in the press. She has also written and published books on her specialist subject of pay and reward systems.

Visit their website for more information www.ashworthblack.co.uk

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