Gripple – P&C Director Gripple Ltd

Gripple is globally recognised as the innovative manufacturer of wire joining solutions for agriculture and suspension systems for building services. Since initial beginnings in 1989, we now have over 800 people across 15 global locations. 100% employee owned with a direct ownership model, the growth and success of our business is characterised by entrepreneurial spirit, a culture of challenge and continuous improvement, and a steadfast commitment to its people and the communities it serves.

The growth of the business in recent years has been supported by the People and Culture team, established in 2014 as a means of enhancing talent acquisition, retention, people development and championing the ‘Gripple Spirit’, a unique set of values which define who we are as people and as a business. The P&C team is led by Katrina Richie, who’s been with the business for 21 years, initially joining the business as a sales administrator.

2020 presented unprecedented challenges but Gripple has always been a business which shapes its own future, driven by the initiative and ingenuity of its people. While there are so many people in our business who deserve recognition today, in this instance, we wanted to highlight the ‘above and beyond’ attitude of Katrina.

Katrina has been driving all the COVID measures put in place since the middle of March 2020. Unprecedented times means little point of reference when managing such a situation but Kat has worked tirelessly to ensure the business, including seven sites alone in Sheffield, are informed of the latest government guidance and rules.

Katrina has spent countless hours reading, researching, and directing what the business does to keep people feeling safe. Many hours of her own time, on weekends and evenings, were needed to ensure that everyone in the business was kept up date. Katrina did this without being asked, despite having to also manage her own personal life, as a single parent with two children.

When we think about employee ownership and our culture, Katrina is the perfect example of an engaged owner taking direct responsibility. This is her business; she lives and breathes it.

Katrina’s direct team and the wider team have been a big support in following her lead. Specific actions that Katrina has led:

  • Regular phone calls to people shielding – checking on their welfare and offering support
  • When permitted, visiting those people shielding – meeting them outdoors and following the socially distancing guidelines
  • Sending out regular communications to the whole business via email, text message and intranet to every employee reminding them of any changes to government protocol and reminding them of the measures in place and what people need to do to ensure their safety and those of their colleagues
  • Creating an internal track and trace system
  • Arranging small hamper gifts for all those shielding at home
  • Arranging ‘thank you’ hampers to every employee that attended the sites every day throughout lockdown
  • COVID measures for cleaning stations, one-way systems, distance and protocol signage, safe working distances, desk occupancy levels and many others
  • A specific COVID handbook – issued to all employees covering all aspects of the government guidance and the measures the business had initiated
  • Regular meetings with the senior exec team to discuss actions and next steps throughout
  • Regular Teams call meetings with managers and team leaders to discuss the actions being taken and answer any questions or concerns
  • Providing guidance and support to our overseas businesses
  • Ensuring ‘essential worker’ letters are made available
  • Making travel arrangements for people to attend work, who would have normally used public transport
  • Taking numerous phone calls at all hours of the day from people to confirm actions if they had tested positive, needed confirmation or simply someone to talk to; providing instructions and re-assurance to people
  • Providing weekly global stats information to the Exec and management teams on the number of COIVD cases we have in the business and their status
  • Providing weekly updates on the national and regional COVID stats
  • Arranging company facilitated flu jabs for all employees
  • Arranging Antibody testing through the business
  • Reminding all employees of the latest age groups to be vaccinated
  • Providing lateral flow tests to be made available to all employees

All the above was in addition to the regular work of our People and Culture team. Our business has never stopped manufacturing during COVID and we have seen little reduction in activity, meaning Katrina has had to manage all the COVID-related workload alongside the usual recruitment, graduate programme, training, appraisals, learning and development activity.

Without Katrina, the last 16 months would have been considerably more difficult and, without a doubt, we would have had far more positive COVID cases in the business if she hadn’t provided such thorough and helpful guidance.

On behalf of the business: Katrina, you have worked tirelessly, the business would not have been able to continue to produce and deliver its products, and people would not have felt as safe, as well looked after and cared for without everything you have done – we all owe you a huge thank you.