Heather Jones: Instigating Human-Centric Leadership and Innovation in HR

Published by Gary Ellis on May 29th 2024, 3:03pm

Heather Jones, the Managing Director of Lamont Jones, is a paragon of leadership and innovation in the corporate world. 

With a career that spans over two decades, Jones has been at the forefront of change in employment law and human resources. “Lamont Jones has been in existence now for 18 years,” she begins, reflecting on the journey that led her to establish her own company.

Jones began in the legal field, a foundation that equipped her with a keen understanding of the intricacies of employment law. Her transition into human resources was marked by a remarkable ascent to becoming the head of HR for Europe at a “huge multinational bank.” This role not only honed her expertise but also highlighted her capacity for high-level corporate management.

The turning point in Jones’s career came with the challenges of balancing a demanding job and family life. “I set up my own company because once I got married and had children, it was getting very difficult to keep moving around the world,” she explains. The decision to take redundancy was a leap into the unknown. Yet, it was this period of uncertainty that sparked a revelation.

Jones noticed a shift in the legal landscape where “employment law was changing,” and the courts were beginning to level the playing field between small and large employers regarding compensation for legal breaches. Sensing an opportunity, she remarks, “I saw that niche and I realised a lot of small businesses were going to become vulnerable.”From this insight, Lamont Jones was born, initially a solo venture that has since blossomed.

Harnessing Experience for Human-Centric Leadership

Heather’s journey through the echelons of law and HR is a narrative of resilience and adaptability. “When I started off, the world was a much different landscape,” she recalls, acknowledging the challenges she faced as a woman in the legal profession. The expectation to conform to certain areas of law was a hurdle, but it was the evolution of labour laws into the Employment Rights Act that opened a new avenue for her.

Her legal acumen proved invaluable as she transitioned into the HR sector of a bank, where she found her true calling. “Having a legal background helped,” Jones asserts, crediting her success to a solid foundation in law and the guidance of a “fantastic mentor.” Her career in HR was marked by continuous promotions, a testament to her expertise and leadership skills.

Heather’s approach to HR is deeply humanistic, balancing the often tough decisions like dismissals with the positive aspects of growing companies and empowering people. For Jones, people are the trickiest resource, and she approaches her role with a nuanced understanding of the complexities of human interactions.

The shift to remote work in recent years has significantly impacted the HR landscape, and Heather has been at the forefront of navigating these changes. She believes in a balanced approach that considers the needs of employers, employees, and clients. “It’s not one-size-fits-all,” she insists, advocating for tailored solutions that respect the human element in business operations.

Heather’s leadership style is characterised by her ability to think critically about the operational impact of workplace changes, ensuring that customer service remains a priority. Her insights into the dynamics of the modern workplace, particularly the challenges faced by manufacturing and the need for thoughtful implementation of flexible working arrangements, highlight her strategic thinking and client-focused mindset.

A Distinctive Approach to HR and Leadership

Heather has cultivated a unique approach. “We are an outsourced HR company, but we do our business differently,” Jones explains. Unlike the impersonal call centre model of larger firms, Lamont Jones prioritises building trusting relationships with clients. “What I’ve built my business on is building trusting relationships with my clients,” she says, highlighting the importance of trust and personal connection in her work.

Jones’s extensive experience in HR and employment law has allowed her to offer a comprehensive service that small, specialised practitioners cannot match. She attributes the success of her business to the trusting relationships she has nurtured over the years, some lasting since the company’s inception 18 years ago. This trust is built on honesty and transparency, allowing clients to feel comfortable admitting mistakes, knowing they will receive the support they need.

The company’s ethos extends to its hiring practices. Jones prefers to employ individuals based on their character rather than their HR background, seeking out those who are kind, articulate, and possess a positive attitude. “Nobody I have employed has ever had a HR background,” she states, valuing the fresh perspectives and empathetic approach they bring to the table.

Lamont Jones’s business model thrives on referrals, a testament to the quality of service and client satisfaction. The company’s family-friendly policies and flexible working arrangements reflect Heather’s leadership philosophy, which emphasise staff well-being and retention.

Jones’s leadership style is informed by her academic background in organisational psychology and she is an advocate of the work conducted by renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow. She believes in treating people well and adapting to each individual’s needs within the company’s environment. “It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it,” she asserts.

Envisioning the Future

As Heather looks to the future, her vision for Lamont Jones is clear: automation and personal touch in harmony. “I’m automating as much as I possibly can,” she says, recognising the need to streamline the repetitive administration inherent in HR while maintaining the human element that is central to their service. “Everything we do touches a human being,” she reminds her staff, ensuring they remember the impact of their work.

Heather is not just thinking about efficiency; she’s also focusing on knowledge sharing. Drawing from her psychology PhD, she plans to make her wealth of training materials available on an automated platform, allowing clients to access and benefit from her expertise on demand.

Looking ahead, Heather envisions taking a step back from the day-to-day operations and transitioning into a role that allows her to focus on what she values most: the relationships she has built. “I’ll become the ambassador,” she states, planning to ensure her clients feel valued through personal visits and attention.

The legacy she intends to leave is one of a business that balances the efficiency of technology with the warmth of personal connections. It’s a future where her daughter Louise will continue the work she began, guided by the principles Heather Jones has instilled in Lamont Jones: a people-first approach to HR and leadership.

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Authored By

Gary Ellis
Senior Editor
May 29th 2024, 3:03pm

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