Business transformation specialist Egremont Group won the Consultancy of the Year prize for its work driving cultural and operational change with Southern Water. We also explore the other shortlisted contenders in a particularly strong field.
Egremont Group is a management consultancy specialising in business transformation. It recently worked with Southern Water on an organisation-wide transformation programme to enable culture change, drive operational excellence and implement a more effective and cost-efficient support services model.
Regulators had defined ambitious targets across the industry driving a need to embark on large-scale change. Egremont was asked to design, mobilise and implement a cultural transformation programme that would strengthen the business’ position as they head into the next regulatory period. Egremont approached this through three lenses: aligning leadership around key priorities; establishing stable and repeatable processes; and creating an effective organisational configuration that would allow the first two to happen.
Enablers of change at this scale included agreeing key leadership principles upfront, reducing silos and clarifying roles and responsibilities. Area and regional managers have been participants of an applied leadership development programme and there are around 70 hubs across the business which improve connection and collaboration between teams. This new approach has resulted in reduced risk, increased efficiency, more productive use of resources and increased engagement scores.
Rob Barnett, Southern Water’s managing director said of the work: “The organisation is set up to be much more successful. Some of the historical issues have been dealt with, we’ve had good financial return with many millions of savings and efficiencies, but for me more importantly we’ve built enduring capability that will allow us to drive multiple benefits in the future.”
ENGAGE helps clients to create highly engaged and effectively led organisations to unlock the potential of employees to drive business success. While many other consultancies offer entirely separate practices for these two areas, ENGAGE argues that bringing both elements together can help clients define, communicate and connect employees with their values.
One recent success involved supporting a major change programme with a client that was divesting a large part of its business. It worked with the client to review current and future organisational and people goals; design and deliver a baseline measurement programme and identify key priority areas to better engage people with the ‘new’ organisation. There is now a more cohesive leadership team and greater clarity on the mission. There is more joined-up thinking around customer relationships and more integrated analysis of employee and customer data.
With another client, it used data and analytics to drive a tailored leadership and engagement programme. ENGAGE collected, integrated and analysed data from and about employees, managers and leaders, as well as a range of other business metrics. This enabled the organisation to understand more clearly the role of leaders, managers and employees in creating a highly engaged and performing culture.
For client Xchanging, furthermore, over a four-year period it helped the company move from the lowest quartile of engagement to the upper quartile, while the businesses went from a profits-warning position and the loss of some senior leadership members, to a position of year-on-year growth. ENGAGE argues that, unlike bigger consultancies, its boutique position ensures it delivers a personalised programme for every client.
McCrudden Training is an innovative learning and organisational development specialist, focusing on public sector partnerships. It recently worked with the West London NHS Trust (WLNHS) to help it deal with a culture of bullying, disempowered staff, low morale and poor retention. The Care Quality Commission had found the Trust to be ‘requiring improvement’, while staff surveys noted below national average staff engagement and even increased physical violence among colleagues.
WLNHS wanted to become an exemplar employer, for staff to feel engaged and respected, and to instil better leadership. McCrudden Training worked with the Trust to come up with a comprehensive range of learning options under its Lead by Example programme (LbE), while acknowledging staffing restrictions limiting personal study time. The programme blended on-the-job learning with workshops and a digital platform to support learning-into-action, following a 70/20/10 model.
For those completing the programme, 88% met their personal learning objectives, 91% were satisfied with the learning, 93% were satisfied with their trainers and 96% were satisfied with the materials. Every workshop delivered a more than 47% increase in self-reported knowledge (one coaching workshop delivered a 100% increase). Average knowledge increase was more than 56% across the entire programme. Another six cohorts have been commissioned and McCrudden Training continues to evolve LbE. WLNHS now ranks among the top performing mental health trusts for relationships with immediate line manager and staff engagement.
Reward management consultancy Paydata enables clients to attract, retain and motivate people to deliver their business’ vision by ensuring employees feel valued in their role. From designing objectively fair staff bonuses and bridging gender or equal pay gaps, it supports clients to tackle key HR issues.
A recent example was Paydata’s work with network operator ESP Utilities Group. After 20 years in operation, it wanted to introduce a grading structure across 45 unique roles, despite previously having no formal methodology. Paydata’s innovative PAYgrade methodology and software package evaluated all roles, from those requiring on-the-job training to the CEO. It used job-grading skills to focus on the key things that characterise jobs of different specialisms and skills. ESP Utilities has now adopted a defined grading system throughout the organisation. Clear career paths were introduced for gas and electrical engineers alongside finance, HR and marketing personnel.
It is too early in the wider HR journey to provide empirical evidence of success based on staff retention or turnover figures, but there have been no appeals around the adoption of the scheme, there is increased employee engagement through more defined job responsibility and progression paths, reduced employee turnover and more streamlined HR processes. HR Manager Victoria Churton says, “Our experience of working with Paydata has been great. They’ve been very helpful and supportive – we felt they understood us from the outset and they met and exceeded expectations.”
PS Human Resources
Clients have described HR consulting company PS Human Resources as transformational, with one saying “from thinking that we were going to get an outsourced HR department, we have in fact also got the equivalent of outsourced HR directors”. Its recent work with live-in care agency is testament to that.
Morale was low and heads of department were in conflict with each other at Christies and PSHR spent time with them to establish the real issues. It found they lacked consistency in how they managed teams, there were inconsistent messages from leaders and feelings of favouritism. There was also an ad-hoc approach to pay.
PSHR put together an HR plan that aligned to the overall business plan of Christies Care including: a more structured approach to recruitment; improved core HR processes, a job evaluation system and a competency framework. Individual Development Plans were written for staff based on their competencies. There is a management development programme and weekly workshops to develop the skills of the managers. The HoDs have copied this process with their teams so that every permanent employee now has an up to date and accurate job description, job evaluation, competency framework and individual development plan that relates to their own aspirations as well as the business needs.
Christies Care now has a strong and competent management team and there is far less silo working. Morale is now high and the management work as a team and embrace change. PSHR has also led cultural and organisational change programmes for other clients including helping to grow a marketing agency from eight to 48 staff and improving culture and accountability at an engineering company.
Synergy Creative is an internal communications and employee engagement agency. It recently worked with Sovereign Housing Association following a merger with Spectrum Housing. With a new CEO and leadership team in place, Sovereign knew that in order to better serve the needs of residents, the business would have to transform, and Synergy was brought on board to help out.
After research, Synergy came up with a two-year change programme focused on honesty, transparency and digital innovation. It brought together managers to come up with an interactive toolkit with everything they would need to help them manage the change. This included a Virtual Reality experience to show employees the Sovereign of the future, and get them excited about the new possibilities digital would bring the organisation and its residents. An internal TV series (based on Gogglebox) called ‘Sofa, so good?’ was also created to show managers, employees, and leaders talking openly and honestly about how the transformation was going.
In response to the programme, 92% now understand the vision, 83% now see residents as customers, 60% feel excited about the future and 80% feel positivity in their teams. Other significant projects for clients include an engagement campaign for RBS, ten years on from its media bailout. George Kenning, head of Colleague Communications at the bank said of the project: “We have a fantastic relationship with Synergy. They are creative, fun, responsive and a first class lot to work with.”