Empowering our people

Geographically dispersed across a number of continents and representing a multitude of cultures, our people are our most important asset. United by a common purpose and shared valued behaviours, their talents, energy and commitment enable us to create value for all our stakeholders. We recognise the responsibility we have to our people and are committed to ensuring that James Fisher is a great place to work by empowering and supporting our people so they can make a real contribution to the Group’s success and attain their personal goals by achieving their potential. This is a central focus for the Chief Executive Officer, responsible for all employee matters, and the Group Head of Human Resources.

This year, navigating through the Covid-19 pandemic has been an obvious priority. Meanwhile our people helped redefine our corporate purpose and values, and with their adoption throughout the Group. Our people have demonstrated their resilience throughout. Our activities in relation to these matters are set out in more detail below. Throughout the year, we have increased our internal communications and also created numerous new working groups to enable the employee voice to reach the Executive team and Board on key issues, including Covid-19. This was complemented by the feedback we received from the engagement survey and the work of Inken Braunschmidt as Non-Executive Director responsible for employee engagement.

In recognition of the pivotal role of our people, the need to retain them and encourage their development, we have revitalised our employee strategy to facilitate an engaged, creative and high performing culture by focusing on 5 core components:

Engagement - We are committed to engaging our employees through employee training, management development, CPD, valued behaviours, onboarding, engagement surveys and engagement indices.

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) – We are focusing on talent attraction, global HR planning, graduate / apprenticeship campaigns and enhanced support mechanisms for returning parents.

Wellbeing – We are building on existing initiatives through effective communications and change management, instilling greater trust and confidence in the future and by re-evaluating pay, reward and recognition.

Talent management – We are concentrating on our talent succession, career development paths, performance management, appraisal reviews and development plans.

Organisational structure – We are optimising our resource planning, organisational and job designs to create opportunities for individual development, accountability and recognition.

Gender diversity

  2020 2019
  Male Female Male Female
Main Board Directors 5 2 6 2
Executive team 5 2 6 2
Senior Managers* 34 25 58 13
Employees 2,115 623 2,579 634

*Those reporting to members of the Executive Team, including senior managing directors

Continue empowering and engaging employees with clear development opportunities:

  • During the year we have celebrated a number of graduate and apprentice success stories – Erin Mutch, a recent business administration apprentice from Fisher Offshore and Carly Robertson, a design and business development graduate at JF AIS, are amongst the most recent employees to complete their programmes and begin progressing their careers within the Group.
  • To embed a culture of high performance conversations, we are currently testing a new performance management system within the business, which enables collaborative goal setting, insightful feedback to drive genuine behavioural change and the ability to measure performance without bias.
  • Supporting continuous development and growth of our internal talent, we are working with our current learning supplier to strengthen our mandatory induction/onboarding initiatives and our career/learning pathways.

Strengthen the Group’s approach to diversity and inclusion (D&I):

  • A new D&I delivery plan has been formulated with a focus on talent attraction and management, engagement, inclusion and reporting.
  • A D&I working group with representatives from all around the Group has been established to actively champion D&I across the Group and to support the delivery of the Group’s D&I objectives.
  • Existing Group D&I policies have been reviewed and refreshed
  • Internal targets have been established to increase female and BAME talent attraction.
  • A review of current recruitment partners has been undertaken as a means to ensure diverse candidate streams.

Launch a Group-wide communications platform:

  • A new, refreshed group-wide intranet launched in the middle of 2020, and serves as a central portal where employees can access news and information from wellbeing advice and tips, to Group policies, IT and cybersecurity guidance.
  • As part of a wider Office 365 roll-out, the collaboration tool Microsoft Teams has been implemented and has enhanced intra-group communication.

Initiate an engagement and education programme for employees to ensure the promotion of safety during all travel:

  • The difficulties of travel during the pandemic and the safety incidents we have encountered in the year have brought this into focus.

Ensure at least one established mental health first aider in operating companies

  • We are investing heavily in mental health awareness and mental health first aid training. Over the course of the last twelve months, we have increased our provision of mental health first aiders across the Group from 54 to 110 and have worked hard to increase their visibility.

Reinvigorate the recruitment of apprentices into Group operating companies, aiming to take on five new apprentices across the Group:


  • Following a Group-wide exercise to identify apprenticeship opportunities across the businesses, Covid-19 has unfortunately delayed our plans in this respect but we are keen to progress with our next cohort once conditions allow.
  • Comprehensive review of employee strategy undertaken.
  • Regular employee planning discussions held between Inken Braunschmidt, Group CEO and Group Head of HR throughout the year, advancing projects such as the Group wide pulse survey and comprehensive employee engagement survey, both of which were completed in 2020. Inken regularly invites the Group Head of HR to attend and present to the Board on key issues, and to allow feedback from the workforce to reach the Board.
  • Direct employee feedback and insights gained from the engagement survey on topics such as leadership, communications and change management, company strategy and employee recognition:
  • Participation rate was high at 67% (2019:40%) and responses indicate a good degree of engagement.
  • Employee wellbeing and engagement working groups formed in addition to the diversity and inclusion working group.
  • Begin to build a scalable and efficient delivery model capable of responding effectively to strategic business opportunities, ensuring optimal organisational design with no more than 5 layers from CEO downwards.
  • Continue to create effective recruitment, development and learning opportunities for all employees. We will design and implement a talent management process to ‘grow our own’, setting us on route to our goal of filling 25% of all roles by internal candidates by 2025.
  • Implement actions in response to the employee engagement survey:
  • Detailed results of the engagement survey will be reviewed by Inken Braunschmidt before the key messages are shared with the Board later in the year.
  • Alongside the Group-level results, detailed business-level results are being shared with the managing directors of each business. Each managing director has been asked to respond directly to the employee feedback relevant to its business, and all managing director presentations to the Board in 2021 will include a summary of actions being taken in response to the employee feedback received.
  • Provide further opportunities for direct employee feedback – such as Non-Executive Director Q&A sessions for employees.
  • Appoint a dedicated Learning and Development HR business partner.
  • Continue to strengthen the Group’s approach to diversity and inclusion, utilising the dedicated working group to help build awareness of its importance and to support the implementation of processes focused on promoting diversity in the workplace including through talent attraction, recruitment and STEM initiatives.
  • Foster a culture of continuous improvement, using refinements in our performance management system to create a meritocracy, supporting the highest standards of integrity and delivery.
  • Ensure strong local expertise and talent across all our geographies.
  • Further embed our new Group-wide valued behaviours at all levels of the organisation.
  • Continue building on the success of the Group-wide intranet by increasing opportunities for engagement within the platform.
  • Form a talent management working group in support of the new employee strategy to help unlock and empower the talent of today, tomorrow and the future.