Helen Francis

Helen Francis

Prof Helen Francis



Professor Helen Francis is Director of the People and Organisational Development (POD) Division with the Edinburgh Institute. A graduate of Edinburgh University, she started her career in personnel management before moving into academic work at Edinburgh Napier Business School. She has played key roles in research, teaching and commercial developments, including the creation of the Edinburgh HR Academy, and POD. This has included spearheading an approach to OD and HR consultancy that effectively blends consultancy and academic skill-sets and knowledge, and which underpins current projects within her Division.
Helen completed her PhD at De Montfort University based on the role of language in HR-based change and has published extensively in leading Management, Organisation and HR journals since then. She has also presented at a wide range of national and international conferences, and in her role as Professor, champions research-led commercial work, teaching and continuous professional development. Her contribution to the HR profession was recognised (lecturer of the year) at the HR Network (Scotland) National Awards in 2007.
Research and Commercial Activities
Helen has been responsible for leading-edge strategies in the areas of practice-based learning and research-based consultancy within the University. As a Chartered Fellow Member of the CIPD, she has strong links with the Institute and local business communities and leads the CIPD Knowledge into Practice Group (SE Scotland).
Helen has made a significant contribution to theory development, research and knowledge exchange, reflected in her role as editor of the CIPD textbook on organisational effectiveness (with Dr Linda Holbeche and Dr Martin Reddington). Her most recent research/ consultancy activities focus upon the changing nature of HR functions and the implications of this on the employment relationship, organisational effectiveness, practice-based learning, employee engagement and the changing employment ‘Deal’.
Engagement and the Employment Deal: A key strand of research-based consultancy led by Professor Helen Francis and Dr Martin Reddington focuses on Engagement and the Employment ‘Deal’. This includes investigations across public and private sector organisations. In response to the challenges imposed by the public sector austerity measures and the imperative to do ‘more for less’, one project examined changes taking place across a sample of Local Authorities in England, funded by the public sector people managers’ association (PPMA), and Local Government Association.
HR Transformation: Various projects have included the examination of the current HR structure/approach to HR service delivery, and a review of customer perceptions of the function.
Case Studies
Aegon UK: We worked with this leading UK financial services business, to review its ‘employee value proposition’, assess staff engagement with a transformational change initiative, and to take action to reduce workplace stress
SELECT: We are partnering with Scotland’s electrical trade association to build leadership and management skills within the sector, and running, for the 6th year, a practice-based management development programme for electricians.
Executive Coaching: We run a successful Executive Certificate in Coaching Practice and a range of coaching related services to organisations.
NHS: Through diagnostic surveys, and follow-up consultancy work, we have worked with the HR team of an NHS Board in Scotland, to improve its impact upon organisational effectiveness
MSc HRM (blended delivery): A new in-house programme accredited by the CIPD will be launched in April 2014 - underpinned by a unique approach to practice-based learning.


Research Areas

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