Personnel Today Awards 2009: Award for Employee Engagement

THE AWARD

The judges looked for high-performing organisations that unlocked discretionary effort from their staff through effective employee engagement. Respected leadership, exceptional communication, and a strong sense of community that centred on shared values were key.

 

THE JUDGES

Ellen Bard
Managing consultant
SHL UK

 

 

 

Jo Hennessy
Director of research
Roffey Park Institute

 

 

 

Birmingham City Council

The team: BEST programme
Number in team: 14
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 60,000

About the organisation

Birmingham City Council (BCC) is the largest local authority in Europe, serving one million local people.

The challenge

In 2006, only 56% of employees were motivated in their jobs. While a £450m project was tackling big issues, such as systems and processes, there were thousands of small things with a potential huge collective impact. The challenge was to engage every employee so that they could address these issues.

What the organisation did

  • Brought in consultants to identify attitudes to be changed
  • Identified core values: belief, excellence, success and trust (BEST)
  • Involved the unions
  • Got senior buy-in from the outset.

Benefits and achievements

  • 83% of staff motivated in their job (2008)
  • 76% of employees highly and frequently engaged
  • More than 6,000 service improvements implemented, all generated by employees
  • £17m in increased productivity
  • Changed the BEST programme from a fixed-timescale project to part of ‘business as usual’.

Judge’s comments

Ellen Bard says: “An excellent example of how harnessing the discretionary effort of employees can provide a clear return on investment, at both an organisational and individual level. Especially commended for the wide-ranging stakeholder involvement.”

 

FMG Support

The team: HR
Number in team: 17
Number of staff responsible for: 440

About the organisation

FMG Support is a fleet performance improvement business with two main areas: fleet incident management; and roadside, repair and recovery management.

The challenge

FMG Support expanded from 161 employees in 2004 to nearly 360 in 2008. Attrition and absence were high, and morale low. The first employee survey, in 2007, highlighted concerns about pay, communication, recruitment, training and leadership, which were all affecting engagement.

What the organisation did

  • Implemented a reward framework linking pay with performance
  • Improved operational training and introduced behavioural development programmes
  • Introduced leadership and management development programmes
  • Developed an internal communication platform.

Benefits and achievements

  • Attrition has fallen from 37% in 2006-07 to 25% in 2007-08. Halfway through 2008-09, it was at 7%
  • The 2009 employee survey found that 94% of people are proud to work for FMG Support
  • 91% feel a real commitment to the company, and 90% want to still be working there in 12 months’ time.

Judge’s comments

Ellen Bard says: “FMG Support demonstrated an understanding of the need for excellent communication and leadership, showing great range in terms of initiatives and actions, covering the full breadth of the employee lifecycle.”

 

HM Prison Morton Hall

The team: HR and business support
Number in team: 7
Number of staff responsible for: 226

About the organisation

Morton Hall is a public-sector women’s prison in Lincolnshire.

The challenge

At the end of 2007-08, sickness absence at Morton Hall stood at 10.9 days per member of staff (the prison service’s national key performance target is 10). Only 65% of staff completed the prison service’s employee engagement survey.

What the organisation did

  • Implement sick meetings for any member of staff returning from sickness absence
  • Arranged for the HR business partner and the performance management team to manage staff sickness
  • Introduced one-to-one well-being clinics with an occupational health adviser
  • Set up a staff survey team
  • Arranged staff consultation events.

Benefits and achievements

  • By year-end 2008-09, sickness absence had fallen to 5.2%
  • Staff turnover for the same year fell to 10
  • 103 staff did not take sick leave (down from 158)
  • 78% of staff completed the survey
  • 89% of staff were clear about what was expected of them in their job.

Judge’s comments

Jo Hennessy says: “HMP Morton Hall set clear objectives and had a specific focus on reducing sickness absence through positive action, rather than punishing or stigmatising absenteeism. It showed a number of innovative approaches and excellent metrics on impressive improvements.”

 

Royal College of Nursing

The team: HR
Number in team: 18
Number of staff responsible for: 800

About the organisation

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is the world’s largest professional union of nurses and health care support workers, with 400,000 members and 786 staff across the UK.

The challenge

A 2007 staff survey showed employee engagement in the RCN was 54%, 7% below the benchmark for not-for-profit organisations. An area of particular concern was that of workplace bullying and harassment, with 18% of respondents having experienced it, and only 50% saying they would feel comfortable reporting it.

What the organisation did

  • Developed a Dignity at Work charter
  • Set up a cross-organisational working group (including union representation)
  • Invited all staff to comment on results of the focus groups’ discussions
  • Launched Dignity at Work with a live webcast to all RCN offices.

Benefits and achievements

  • March 2009 staff surveyed showed 74% of staff now engaged
  • 77% think the RCN respects individual differences
  • 82% feel happy to work for the RCN (17% up on 2007)
  • A reduction in absenteeism and staff turnover.

Judge’s comments

Jo Hennessy says: “This entry’s strengths were its open communication of survey results, clear responsibility taken by management, wide staff involvement, a positive approach and well-structured and wide-scale communication.”

 

Travel London

The team: HR and training
Number in team: 17
Number of staff responsible for: 1,700

About the organisation

Travel London provides bus services throughout London and Surrey.

The challenge

Travel London was formed in 2004 as part of the National Express Group’s bus division. It suffered from poor profit and its supervisor and management structure needed to be reviewed. A consultation programme was implemented to address the major challenges, which included a lack of business planning and high staff turnover.

What the organisation did

  • Defined its aims and objectives as a business
  • Developed an employee engagement strategy
  • Appointed an HR manager, part of the senior management team
  • Launched employee survey and award schemes
  • Introduced one-to-one reviews.

Benefits and achievements

  • Staff turnover rates fell from 42% in 2005 to 15.6% in 2008
  • All training is competency based and aligned to individual and organisational needs
  • Absence levels have fallen from 13.4% to 6.8%
  • Good relationships with trade unions
  • Achieved Investors in People status in November 2008.

Judge’s comments

Jo Hennessy says: “Working from a low base, Travel London established aims and objectives for the business with a clearly outlined strategy, while leading with an inspiring vision and plans and professionalising and strengthening the HR function.”

 

TUI UK & Ireland

The team: HR
Number in team: 100
Number of staff responsible for: 17,000

About the organisation

Travel company TUI UK & Ireland was created by the 2007 merger of First Choice and Thomson.

The challenge

To implement an effective employee engagement strategy, bringing together staff from the two merged companies, which were previously competitors.

What the organisation did

  • Asked for employee feedback for a new vision, values and strategy
  • Created an employee brand, ‘Be Special’
  • Aligned HR processes with the company vision
  • Developed communication channels to suit the company’s range of demographics and roles
  • Launched a ‘Work in Partnership’ (WiP) initiative, to give staff a role in the decision-making process.

Benefits and achievements

  • 15 months after the merger, 97% of the top 700 managers said they would work over and above what’s expected of them
  • Decisions made in the WiP forums meant the deadlines for integration were achieved
  • ‘Be Special’ is now more than a brand, and has come to represent the newly merged entity’s culture.

Judge’s comments

Jo Hennessy says: “This was an effective employee engagement strategy that involved employees in developing new vision and values, and created an employer brand to use as a basis for behavioural and cultural change.”

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