Homing in on people strategies

About the organisation

The Northern Counties Housing Association (NCHA) is one of the UK’s largest housing associations. It has 22,000 homes around the country, and provides services to the 45,000 people that live in them. The organisation has 550 employees working across 16 locations, and it celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2006.

The aim

NCHA launched its vision, entitled ‘Really making a difference’, at its annual general meeting. It aims to achieve excellence across the organisation by adopting a customer-focused approach. This will be achieved by encouraging its staff to take ownership of their own roles and responsibilities.

System supplier

Intellect Business Consultants specialises in HR and payroll software with its modular Workforce software. Its portfolio of products include the IndigaHR and integrated Ochre payroll software, as well as Workforce. The company was launched in 1989, and has 10,000 users across the UK and overseas.

The approach

The ‘Really making a difference’ vision is driven by a management framework that encourages individual and team contributions, and promotes personal motivation and job satisfaction. The HR strategy underpins this approach at every level, ensuring the necessary support, training and tools are in place, and monitoring and rewarding progress along the way.

HR manager Jane Johnson, who has been with the organisation for 15 years, compiled a shortlist of eight systems that would help implement this approach, and opted for Intellect’s integrated Workforce HR system.

“We were able to pull together a very specific ITT (information technology tender), based on long-standing experience with our two previous systems,” says Johnson. “I suppose we really wanted to see proper joined-up thinking in terms of the HR system, giving us the right platform to develop our overall employee development programme at every level.”

The solution

The Workforce system comprises HR Manager, Recruitment Manager, Training Manager and self-service online modules. To date, NCHA has implemented HR Manager, which gives 50 managers access to a range of weekly and monthly reports, as well as information on staff who report directly to them.

Implementation of the Recruitment Manager and Training Man-ager modules will follow, and self-service online will be introduced early this year alongside the launch of a new intranet. This will enable staff to view their own details, book training courses and holidays and carry out other HR-related tasks.

The bottom line

“Workforce has empowered my team to take responsibility for our own system and we haven’t really needed any IT support at all,” says Johnson, citing the reporting tool as a big part of the system’s success from a manager’s viewpoint.

Tangible proof of the validity of its people strategies came last year when NCHA became the first UK organisation to achieve success not only in the Investors in People Post Recognition Review, but also passing all three additional modules: work-life balance, recruitment and selection, and leadership and management.

“The system is genuinely helping us to make a difference in support of our HR role,” says Johnson.



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