Cambridge Systematics Puts People At the Center of Its HR Strategy


How can human resources act as a strategic business function and keep its focus on creating an environment to draw out the best in people? Cambridge Systematics is working to prove putting people first is strategic and benefits the business.

The strategic business impact of HR

Linda Cataldo, HR Director
Cambridge Systematics

“I view myself as a business person who happens to do HR,” says Linda Cataldo, the director of human resources at Cambridge Systematics. “I've always believed that people have the ability to be successful when they are surrounded by a great team and in an environment that encourages them to be great,” Linda says.

Cambridge Systematics, founded in 1972, is a consulting firm that thinks forward about the world of transportation. Technology and innovation play a huge role in how it impacts planning and policy for how people and things move from point A to point B.

It's no surprise that Cambridge Systematics wants to take a similar forward-thinking approach to engaging the people who keep the organization going strong. The goal is simple: Create an environment where employees can bring their best to work. And this is where Linda comes in – she's been working with other team members to influence a shift in the company's culture that's being designed to improve the work experience for its people.

Be proactive about keeping great talent

One of the ways Linda and her HR team ensures they are doing everything they can to retain great talent is by conducting stay interviews. After seeing a trend of issues expressed during exit interviews that could have easily been addressed, they explored various ways they could help people share information before they reached the point of leaving. It was important to find the right tactic and not waste time on a solution that wouldn't meet their needs.

“HR wanted to support managers that have great expertise in their area, but who may not be as strong in people management skills by guiding them to slow down and see people as individuals,” she says.

The HR team decided to roll out a mid-year check-in process to give people a chance to share how they're feeling about work. It's opened a dialogue across the organization about what's working well and obstacles people are facing so managers and leaders can build a better experience of work.

“We know that many people stay or leave an organization because of their supervisor, so strengthening these relationships is key,” Linda says. “The stay interview process puts the supervisor in the solution seat, asking what they can do today to ensure that each individual remains engaged and productive.”

A people-first approach

Linda views her job in HR as a partnership with the people who make it possible for Cambridge Systematics to achieve great results. One of the most important aspects of Linda's role is to develop great people and to help them be their best. She measures her efforts by the success of the people she works with.

“I believe people don't stay at a company solely for a paycheck. It's about the experience. So, it's important to treat the people you serve the way you want them to treat others,” says Linda. “In my experience, I've learned that working in HR is about ensuring people feel satisfied and accomplished, and that they understand what value they bring to the table and to the people they interact with on day-to-day basis.”

Cambridge Systematics is using Halogen TalentSpace™ as a tool to help managers better understand and enable the success of each person on their team. As they document conversations, managers start to see that what works for each person and what their motivators are. By making the relationship a priority, managers can get to know people, what drives them and where they see themselves in the future. Then, they can look for opportunities that come out of those discussions to help the individual and the business.

Using technology to help employees reach their full potential

The people at Cambridge Systematics can use Halogen to provide input and access information about their career anytime and from any location. They can look at their goals, update progress on what they're working on or development activities they're participating in, review feedback and add agenda items to discuss with their manager in one-on-one meetings. Having all of this information in one place has made a difference in:

Linda's excited about how Halogen's solutions have enabled Cambridge Systematics to put its HR philosophies into practice on a day-to-day basis. And working with Halogen as a partner has had many great benefits – from the great ideas sparked in discussions with Cambridge Systematics' customer success manager to creative assistance with Halloween costumes. Most of all, Linda knows Halogen will help her and Cambridge Systematics take the right next step in creating a great work environment for its employees, every step of the way