How to adapt and protect your company culture: An interview with Louise McCosh

Louise McCosh is the HR Director of French Duncan, a Scottish Chartered Accountancy Firm. She has over 10 years of experience within HR, is a chartered member of CIPD, and is an ACAS mediator. Louise has a hybrid role where she is the HR Director responsible for over 200 French Duncan employees and runs the external HR services team, which offers HR support with projects and day-to-day HR duties.

Recently iMultiply’s Public Practice Consultant Carla Heron spoke with Louise about how French Duncan adapted when the pandemic hit, the importance of culture and team engagement throughout the last year, and what companies should consider going forward.

Review and Adapt

When the first Lockdown hit French Duncan was entering a period of growth, taking on 50 new employees. This meant they had to develop their existing onboarding strategy and pivot to remote working. The external HR team also had the huge challenge of getting up to speed on the Furlough scheme within a weekend. They reviewed their process holistically and looked into how they would need to change. To keep their priorities in line, the HR team’s first hour of every day is spent talking and a lot of time is focused on the strategy. This year their strategy is about recovery and how they can adapt to this new world.

Protect the culture

Disseminating who they are as a firm was really hard at the beginning of lockdown. As one of The Times’s top 50 employers in Scotland, French Duncan pride itself on being a great place to work. Managing to get the culture across to new starts when you haven’t met them and they haven’t even stepped foot into their office is very difficult.

Managing staff remotely

Managers have found it tough as they can’t see if new employees are struggling to get to grips with something. French Duncan is a training firm, therefore, lots of the new starts that have joined them have been studying their professional qualifications. They have found it’s important to check in with employees daily, sometimes even twice daily on Microsoft Teams. It might seem like overkill however you can’t underestimate how important that is for new people coming on board and for existing employees.

It’s not all about work.

Work is a big part of people’s lives but it’s important to get to know them on a social level. Knowing that not everyone responses to the same thing., French Duncan has arranged a variety of different virtual activities. Senior management updates on what’s going on in the firm, coffee mornings, board room drinks on the last Friday of every month, bingo, quizzes, cook-a-long and cocktail making!

Looking to the future

The biggest challenge companies will face is about embracing the trust that they have given to people. People are used to working remotely and although not everyone likes it, most people will still work from home in some capacity. Most firms have agreed to a hybrid working model going forward however it will differ across all accountancy firms. Defining what this new model will look like will be the hardest challenge yet.


If you would like more information about working with our Public Practice team why not get in touch with Carla Heron by emailing to start the conversation.

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