Personnel Today Awards 2014 winners: Hymans Robertson top employee engagement category – fewer than 1,000 employees

Hymans Robertson collect their employee engagement prize at the Personnel Today Awards 2014.
Hymans Robertson collect their employee engagement prize at the Personnel Today Awards 2014.

Oakleaf PartnershipHymans Robertson’s efforts to turn around employee engagement, decrease absence and improve productivity saw it take home the Personnel Today Award for employee engagement, for companies with fewer than 1000 employees, sponsored by Oakleaf. We take a look at how it did it, and profile the other finalists that made up the shortlist. 


WINNER: Hymans Robertson

About the organisation

Hymans Robertson is a pensions, risk and benefits consultancy, employing around 650 people across four UK offices.

Employee engagement – the judges

Mark Withers, managing director, Mightywaters Consulting

Wendy Cartwright, former HR director, Olympic Delivery Authority

The challenge

Hymans Robertson plans to become the “most admired professional services firm by 2021”, its centenary year. It is working on a number of employee engagement initiatives to meet this goal.

What the organisation did

  • Annual participation in Best Companies survey, providing host of data through accreditation.
  • Appointed a full-time internal communications manager.
  • Every employee given strategy document.
  • Held 16 strategy roadshows this year, attended by more than 400 staff, plus regular focus groups.
  • Leadership team receive regular finance and business updates; new detailed board meeting updates.
  • Investment in technology, enabling more than 12% of staff to work flexibly.
  • Invested in leadership programmes and personal development plans.
  • Awards for going the extra mile (“GEM” awards).
  • “Helping hands” committees in each office to partner with local charities.

Benefits and achievements

  • Reached no.42 in Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For list.
  • Full engagement rate with flexible benefits renewal.
  • Eighty-three GEM awards given.
  • Absence rates stand at just 2.1 days per year, compared to industry average of 7.2 days.
  • More than 50% of new hires in 2013/14 came via employee recommendation or direct hire.
  • Won three awards at UK Pensions Awards in 2013.
  • Proportion of staff who believe organisation is “run on strong values and principles” up 2%.

Judges’ comments

“Hymans is focused on employee engagement in a commercial and values-driven way.”


RUNNERS-UP

Celgene

About the organisation

Celgene Corporation is an American biotechnology company that manufactures drug therapies for cancer and inflammatory disorders. It has an expected workforce in the UK & Ireland of almost 200 by the end of 2015.

The challenge

In 2011, Celgene UK & Ireland had 60 employees and revenue was growing. However, a company-wide survey showed there to be a slight drop in engagement, which the company needed to address to continue its commercial success.

What the organisation did

  • General manager Sam Pearce sacrificed a promotion in EMEA to return to UK/Ireland affiliate and develop engagement strategy.
  • HR team engaged with the business to map out initiatives, with talent development at the core.
  • Introduced a 70:20:10 learning philosophy, including tools such as business simulations, manager development, coaching and feedback training.
  • Launched WeCare, a corporate social responsibility strategy.
  • Ran communications audit and reviewed internal communications strategy.
  • Published blogs, ran monthly forum, fortnightly managers’ call, plus engagement champions for every team.
  • Increased participation in engagement surveys.

Benefits and achievements

  • Almost one-third (29%) of employees promoted in past two years; 17 to EMEA roles.
  • All employees have objectives in place and a development plan.
  • Annual charity fundraising target of £15,000 beaten by almost £8,000.
  • Engagement has exceeded improvement target: from 3.55 in 2011, to 4.05 in 2013, and 4.29 in 2014.
  • Sickness absence down to 2.8 days per person (below CIPD average of 7.6 days).
  • Attrition fell to just 1.25% in 2014, from 9.7% in 2012.
  • More employees hired via direct sourcing, saving more than £20,000 in recruitment costs.
  • Growth in net sales of 9.4% in 2013.

Judges’ comments

“Neat way of describing employee journey, with lots of links to L&D and other HR areas.”


Capita Managed Services

About the organisation

Capita Managed Services is the strategic resourcing business within Capita plc. Its teams work across commercial, regulated and government sectors across 21 separate locations throughout the UK.

The challenge

Capita Managed Services had established a dedicated employee engagement team. However, the main challenge it faced was the huge geographic spread of the business, from four offices in London to one in Dounreay in Scotland. It needed to establish a wide-reaching strategy to ensure a cohesive workforce across all levels and locations.

What the organisation did

  • Ensured that director of employee engagement is key stakeholder on senior leadership team.
  • Set up the “culture club”, made up of representatives from each of the locations.
  • New reward and recognition scheme.
  • Centralised training budget and schedule, putting measures in place to monitor and report on effectiveness.
  • Launched Leadership Academy, a six-day programme aligned to key competencies to become account director.
  • Created greater visibility of internal vacancies.
  • Set up a new buddy scheme for all starters, plus new induction.
  • “Rogue monkey” scheme introduced for ideas generation.

Benefits and achievements

  • Thirty per cent of vacancies filled internally (April 2013-April 2014).
  • Bid Ambassador programme has identified subject matter experts across the business.
  • Greater visibility on training spend through centralising it.
  • Training has improved employees’ skills in measurable ways, for example in presentation skills, added value to client relationships.

Judges’ comments

“A wide range of mechanisms used to improve engagement.”


Fossil

About the organisation

Fossil is a global lifestyle company specialising in consumer fashion accessories. Its products include watches, jewellery, leather goods, sunwear, clothes, and footwear. These are sold in department stores and its own brand retail stores in more than 90 countries.

The challenge

In September 2013, Fossil conducted an employee engagement survey, which revealed that some employees felt the company did not always explain structural changes that were taking place, and the reasons behind those changes. The company wanted to improve cohesion in the business and inspire employees to work towards specific goals.

What the organisation did

  • Deconstructed employee engagement data, looking at it on departmental and company-wide terms.
  • Devised HR employee forums, community outreach programmes, plus benefits supporting health and wellbeing.
  • Set up series of advisory structures for better flow of information.
  • Created The Culture Team, made up of people from all parts of the business, then divided this team into five smaller teams, dedicated to: charitable activity; environmental efforts; internal and external communications; improving engagement throughout the business.
  • Monthly newsletter called The Culture Express distributed to all staff.
  • Launched campaign called “Get out of your chair”’ aimed at getting people to talk to each other rather than email.

Benefits and achievements

  • Turnover down from 2.75% to 1.9% over 12-month period.
  • Sickness rate fallen from 1.6% to 1.2% in 2014, saving more than £100,000 over the first five months of this year.
  • Company taken further steps to improve information flow, for example through appointment of communications manager.
  • Groups and sub-groups no longer operate in silos, and work together on specific projects.
  • Board members more visible around the business and commit time outside their core work schedules.

Judges’ comments

“Shows true engagement and innovative communications.”


Horder Healthcare

About the organisation

Horder Healthcare is an independent healthcare provider and charity whose purpose is to “advance health”. Its centres, including The Horder Centre in East Sussex, offer elective orthopaedic and musculoskeletal services.

The challenge

In 2011, Horder embarked on a new five-year strategy focusing on organisational growth. It identified that it could differentiate itself from its competitors through operational excellence, and wanted to embed this into the DNA of the organisation.

What the organisation did

  • Invited staff to participate in engagement survey; this revealed they needed more tools to empower them to solve issues.
  • Executive team agreed to set of promises which would inform how they would interact with staff (“Guiding Leadership Behaviours”).
  • Physical restructure of working environment brought units together.
  • Communication hubs introduced in every department, with noticeboards communicating performance achievements, rotas etc.
  • Regular team meetings introduced and discussions communicated.
  • Introduced creative problem-solving process for issues that require a facilitator/team of facilitators.

Benefits and achievements

  • Communication has improved and working towards better cross-departmental communication.
  • Customer service improved: 99% of patients pleased with service
  • Staff engagement survey shows score of 4.1 (average is 3.3-3.6).
  • Sense of community meant staff shared lifts and even stayed overnight to get to work during last bout of snow.
  • Feedback: “We don’t have a complicated management structure and everyone understands our values and what we’re trying to achieve as an organisation.”

Judges’ comments

“Great approach to putting staff and patients at the heart of the service provision.”


One Vision Housing

About the organisation

One Vision Housing is an award-winning housing provider, with more than 11,000 homes for rent in Merseyside, primarily across the borough of Sefton. It employs more than 250 people.

The challenge

Following a transfer from a local authority housing department in 2006, there was an inherited culture where staff felt demotivated, lacked focus, and were underperforming. Levels of absenteeism and turnover were unacceptably high. The organisation needed to improve morale and increase productivity.

What the organisation did

  • Decided to focus on health and wellbeing, drawing on Investors in People good practice framework.
  • Initiative is staff-led, including suggestion scheme and group to review ideas.
  • Activities include regular health checks, opportunity to measure health indicators such as body fat percentage.
  • Opened on-site gym in ground floor office space, with meeting space and bistro.
  • “Feel Good” project offered formal programme of activities in house including staff parties and quizzes, reflexology and physiotherapy.
  • Communicated health and wellbeing activities through variety of channels.

Benefits and achievements

  • Ninety per cent of staff engaged with health and wellbeing activities in Q2 2013/14, rising to 100% in Q3 and Q4.
  • Activities rated as excellent or good by 98%.
  • Sickness levels reduced from 8% in 2006 to 3% in 2010/11, projected to go down to 2%.
  • Staff turnover fallen from 21% to 7% since 2006.
  • Overall staff satisfaction up from 75% in 2008 to 97% in 2013.
  • First organisation to be awarded first place in Sunday Times Top 100 Companies To Work For in consecutive years (2012 & 2013); this year named “UK’s best workplace”.
  • Feedback from staff: “The company cares about your life outside your working day.”

Judges’ comments

“Targeted effort to drive engagement by focusing on wellbeing.”


Zenith

About the organisation

Zenith is one of the UK’s leading independent leasing, fleet management and vehicle outsourcing businesses. Its customer base includes many household brands and some of the biggest organisations in the UK.

The challenge

Zenith recognises that its employees are fundamental to delivering a first-class service. It wanted to ensure that its strategy included strong employee values, the creation of sustainable jobs and careers, and to attract and retain the best people.

What the organisation did

  • Transparent approach to communication including CEO presentations and sharing news via social media channels.
  • Set of employee values devised by team of people from all over the business, plus new wall graphics, brochure and mugs to promote them.
  • Flat management structure with approachable leaders.
  • Set up Zenith Academy ensuring all employees receive appropriate training and have a structured career path.
  • Established CSR focus group comprising of four key elements: education; environment; community; and fundraising.
  • Introduced employee wellbeing programme, including all managers gaining accreditation in stress management.
  • Taken part in Best Companies survey for past four years

Benefits and achievements

  • Employee engagement up 17% in last 12 months.
  • Listed in Sunday Times Top 100 Small Companies to Work For, at number 80.
  • Delivered development opportunities for more than 80% of employees.
  • All managers have attended “Art of Engagement” away day and have taken away three improvements to work on.
  • CSR projects include volunteering in local schools and maintaining a conservation area.

Judges’ comments

“Employee engagement objectives and outcomes are woven into a compelling HR strategy, and measured to ensure impact is fully understood.”

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