Royal Bank of Scotland Employee Engagement Award

This award aimed to attract entries from high-performing organisations that unlock discretionary effort from their staff through effective employee engagement. Entrants were able to identify what it is about the organisation that makes people love to work there. The judge looked for evidence of leadership, communication and a strong sense of community.

The sponsor: The Royal Bank of Scotland Group is one of the largest financial services groups in the world, serving more than 30 million customers globally and employing 140,000 people worldwide.

Awards judge

Nita Clarke is the director of the Involvement and Participation Association. She advised prime minister Tony Blair on trade unions while working as his assistant political secretary from January 2001 to June 2007. Her role included liaison with individual unions and the TUC. Previously she had worked as a political officer for Unison and the health service union COHSE. Clarke was Ken Livingstone’s press officer at the Greater London Council.

The Midcounties Co-operative

The team: Personnel Services Group

Number in department: about 50 Number of people in organisation: 7,800

About the organisation Formed in September 2005 after the merger of the Oxford, Swindon & Gloucester and West Midlands co-operative societies, the Midcounties Co-operative is a consumer co-operative covering several trading and support groups.

The challenge After the merger, the Midcounties Co-operative faced a huge challenge of building a single culture across its different businesses and regions. The co-operative also wanted to keep colleagues informed about the business and give them a ‘say’ in day-to-day decisions.

What the organisation did

In 2007 140 members of staff were elected as representatives to ‘Colleague Councils’ for each trading or support group. These give colleagues at all levels involvement in the group’s business decisions since no more than one-third of the posts on each council can be taken by management. Meetings take place quarterly and there is a biannual executive council chaired by the chief executive. The councils consider the most important issues for the workplace, focus on how they can implement changes and then communicate these actions and progress to colleagues after the meetings. Training is provided and there is a ‘news and views’ newsletter which promotes communication of any decisions made.

Benefits and achievements

  • Carried out a review of carrier bag usage
  • Launched a paper recycling initiative
  • Put up new colleague noticeboards
  • Reviewed bonus payments
  • Held a review of support materials, such as benefits booklet
  • Achieved 89% participation in annual colleague survey

The judge says “The Midcounties Co-operative merged two organisations into a single culture by giving staff a say in its day-to-day running. This demonstrates a sharing solution, influencing business decisions with a genuine representative voice which is not management-led.”


Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG)

The team: Human resources

Number in department: 171 including shared services Number of employees in organisation: 130,000

About the organisation IHG is one of the largest hotel companies in the world, operating under seven key brands, with 4,000 hotels in almost 100 countries.

The challenge The hotel group wanted to develop global values that could drive a distinctive and differentiated style of service so that it could deliver to its core purpose: to “provide great hotels guests love”. This meant connecting with staff on the front line, getting every individual to understand and adopt the company’s values and translate them into actions as they went about their work.

What the organisation did

IHG ran 70 workshops in 20 countries, with more than 1,000 people, over just one month. This led to the creation of five core values called ‘Winning Ways’, which were launched at a leadership conference by the company’s CEO. The values were then communicated to the whole company using workshops designed to bring the values to life. Other initiatives included:

  • a ‘Jigsaw Challenge’ where hotels could submit examples of Winning Ways behaviours
  • a ‘Chase the Extraordinary’ tour of IHG hotels in the US, which invited more than 10,000 people to pledge to live the Winning Ways.

Benefits and achievements

  • Employee engagement jumped 8.5% over six months
  • Engagement among managers rose 6% over the same period
  • 80% of staff will put in extra effort based on the impact of the new values set
  • 80% said they see people around them living the Winning Ways and 83% said they see their manager living them
  • 82% would recommend it to others as a good place to work.

The judge says “IHG designed a process where staff input is integral to the business model. The CEO has a strong role and the senior team is accountable for delivering on engagement. It’s a model that deserves to succeed.”


Broadway Homelessness and Support

The team: Human resources

Number in department: 8 Number of employees in organisation: 170

About the organisation Broadway is a charity providing services to support homeless people from street to home.

The challenge The organisation has been listed in the Sunday Times Best Small Companies Guide for the past three years, but it wanted to know how it could improve performance in its six lowest scoring questions in the Best Companies entry.

What the organisation did After publicising detailed results of its Best Companies scores to staff, it carried out a ‘bottom-up’ exercise to get every team to contribute, through structured briefings, to suggestions on how it could perform better. The senior management team came up with a response and action plan based on these ideas and communicated the results to employees. Through a progressive and well thought-through HR strategy, the charity has created a climate of engagement where 91% of staff believe they work with colleagues who are committed and professional.

Benefits and achievements

  • 92% of staff believe Broadway makes a positive difference to people’s lives
  • 95% of external appointments are filled after the first attempt
  • Average length of stay for staff has increased from 2.2 to four years.
  • Sickness absence rate of 2.3% compared with CIPD average for the voluntary sector of 4.2%
  • 71% of management appointments made internally
  • Broadway receives more requests for job packs and has the highest volume of applications than any other charity within its customer base.

The judge says “Broadway has a proven track record in engagement to provide excellent service outcomes. It takes a holistic approach starting with recruitment and following through with robust measurement and benchmarking.”

Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust

The team: Human resources and organisational development

Number in department: 200

Number of employees in organisation: 10,000

About the organisation Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust is one of the largest foundation trusts in the UK, employing over 10,000 staff providing general and specialist hospital care for the people of east Birmingham, Solihull, Sutton Coldfield, Tamworth and South Staffordshire.

The challenge In April 2007, Heart of England undertook the first ever acquisition of its kind in the NHS when it merged with Good Hope hospital in Sutton Coldfield. This brought together 10,000 staff from four sites across the region, and was subject to intense local and national scrutiny. During this period of change it was important to develop a ‘one trust’ culture as well as secure efficiencies by reducing posts in back-office departments.

What the organisation did

  • The trust developed a ‘Moving Forward Together’ programme which delivered effective leadership and staff engagement. This included:
  • A series of events hosted by the chief executive, bringing together more than 3,000 employees
  • On-site Q&A sessions hosted by the chief executive, plus FAQ newsletter and regular e-mail communications
  • Designing and implementing the NHS’ first local staff survey
  • Creating a dedicated jobs unit to support staff during the restructuring.

Benefits and achievements

  • The trust saved £750,000 on redundancy costs, making only six redundancies compared with a predicted 50.
  • Achieved £3m in efficiencies by reducing back-office posts
  • Engaged and developed leaders to effectively manage the human aspects of a large-scale organisational change
  • Collected valuable intelligence on staff perceptions of the trust – 75% of the workforce would recommend the hospital for treatment
  • Trust was awarded ‘Top Employer’ status by the Guardian.

The judge says “Here’s evidence of real staff involvement and engagement, crucially linked to better patient outcomes. There is strong management leadership, ongoing and sustainable training and innovative use of surveys. The trust has developed a single, positive culture despite a reorganisation.”


Iceland Foods

The team: HR

Number in department: 60

Number of employees in organisation: 16,000

About the organisation Iceland Foods’ goal is to be the number one frozen food retailer. After a merger with Booker Cash & Carry in 2001, it became The Big Food Group, which was then acquired in 2005 by investment group Baugur.

The challenge When Baugur Group acquired The Big Food Group in 2005, it found a company in crisis with chaotic product ranges, increasing overheads, complex processes and poor employee engagement. Iceland wanted to increase employee engagement levels to encourage the recovery of the business.

What the organisation did

In 2006, Iceland improved its annual employee survey to monitor levels of engagement, rather than satisfaction, allowing an independent company to manage it. The retailer now also uses 360-degree feedback to ensure its leaders demonstrate the right behaviours and all staff must work towards key performance indicators. In addition, there is ‘Talking Shop’ – a forum for retail staff – where representatives from each store share concerns. This information is then passed on to regional and national Talking Shop meetings, where the board attend to listen to views and ideas.

Benefits and achievements

  • Employee survey response rate increased from 74% in 2004 to 91% in 2007
  • Focus groups held to address areas of poor engagement
  • 2007 survey gave engagement index score of 76%, with 58% classed as ‘highly engaged’
  • Staff agree positively with statements such as ‘I feel a strong sense of family’, ‘My manager motivates me to give my best everyday’ and ‘I feel proud to work for this organisation’
  • Reduction in absence and staff turnover
  • Accreditation in Best Companies to Work For.

The judge says “Iceland made great use of 360-degree feedback, surveys and forum tools. It also has in place a firefighting tool, robust processes and structures, with its survey based on engagement rather than staff satisfaction.”

Comments are closed.