Great People – providing an outstanding colleague experience

We recognise that our colleagues are our greatest asset, they drive our success and help us achieve our ambitions. In return, we invest in their development and wellbeing, and reward colleagues for their commitment and hard work.

Over the last year, our colleagues have kept our customers and our organisation safe by continuing to work throughout the pandemic. We have prioritised the safety and wellbeing of our colleagues and shown our appreciation through a range of initiatives including additional leave, bonus payments and free virtual fitness programmes.

Great people header image

The voice of our colleagues is important, which is reflected in our inclusive and democratic culture.  We have introduced new ways of listening to our colleagues including themed ‘Space to Talk’ sessions and regular Q&A sessions with our Chief Executive.

These helped us to listen to our people to understand their concerns and the challenges they faced whilst working through the pandemic. Through our new colleague forum, One Voice, we have responded to their feedback, including adapting to preferred future working arrangements as the restrictions of the pandemic are lifted and we re-open our offices.

At a time where social interaction was limited, we also ran a number of virtual events to ensure our colleagues stayed connected with each other, including an all-colleague event for over 800 people and a virtual Managers’ Conference.

Our Chief Executive introduced a weekly vlog to keep colleagues up-to-date with corporate news and recognise some of the great work taking place across the organisation. Our Executive Team also began a programme of recognition phone calls, giving them the opportunity to speak with and thank colleagues for their hard work and dedication. The results of these efforts are reflected in our colleague ‘on the pitch’ engagement scores.

Our commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) is central to our values and in supporting the delivery of our social purpose. 

Following consultation with our colleagues and customers, we have launched our new (EDI) Strategy.

By delivering the strategy:

  • we are committed to achieving greater diversity within our senior team and Board to reflect the diversity of our communities;
  • our colleagues will feel respected and empowered to be their true selves at work and to reach their potential;
  • our customers will know that we are here to support them, that our services are designed to meet their individual needs, and that we’re committed to improving their lives and making their communities thrive.

We also launched our new Family Friendly Policy which reflected colleague feedback and brought together the existing offers from both Equity and Great Places, featuring enhanced payments for maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.

The Strategy has an increased focus on inclusion. We want all of our people to feel a sense of belonging to Great Places, and to know that they are valued and respected for who they are. To help us to achieve this we will ensure that all our customers and colleagues have a meaningful voice, and that everyone is involved in driving improvements and shaping the decisions we make. We are taking positive action to ensure that we are more representative of our customer groups, particularly at Board and leadership level. This will help us to better understand the challenges faced by our communities and how we may best respond to their needs.

To find out more about our commitment to EDI please watch the video below:

We recognise that how our colleagues feel about our organisation impacts upon performance, retention, culture and measuring engagement allows us to identify how we can improve. We carried out our annual Intelligence Gathering survey which saw a number of improvements from the previous year. 

  • our overall on the pitch score is now 82 per cent, compared to 78 per cent in April 2020;
  • our highest scoring questions (at 96 per cent each) are “I know and understand what Great Places’ purpose, vision and values are” and “I believe in the vision and work of Great Places”;
  • the question with the highest score increase of 15 per cent is around colleagues achieving a work-life balance. As part of our approach to Greater working, we have considered which parts of pandemic working has led to this improvement so we can maintain them in the future.

Our colleague experience activities included:

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  • a recognition package, including discretionary days’ leave, bonus payments for frontline colleagues and  business-wide shut-down family days.
  • the launch of The Marketplace, a new and exclusive colleague benefit platform;
  • sharing Greatness payments and a discretionary bonus in recognition of Covid contributions;
  • team fun lunches;
  • Christmas gift cards;
  • the alignment of our legacy colleague forums, Talk Team and Voice, to create our new colleague forum – One Voice;
  • Christmas closure, providing colleagues with three additional day's leave;
  • a murder mystery event;
  • a comedy night.

colleague wellbeing

The wellbeing of our colleagues is a priority. Throughout the pandemic, we recognised many of our colleagues were struggling with additional pressures, prompting us to review and enhance our wellbeing offer.

This included:

  • ‘Space to Talk’ sessions on the impact of caring responsibilities due to lockdown;
  • mental wellbeing workshops focusing on isolation and anxiety;
  • the launch of our ‘Powering our People’ campaign, designed to empower colleagues to look after their mental health, and for managers and colleagues to make positive changes to the way they work;
  • a ‘Time to Talk’ session focused on mental wellbeing (also made available to customers);
  • menopause awareness workshops;
  • workshops for managers designed to help them manage a remote team;
  • dedicated contact for colleagues requiring wellbeing support;
  • bespoke wellbeing offers created to support colleagues in financial crisis;
  • two fitness initiatives to raise money for our corporate charities;
  • an eight-week Body Transformation Challenge featuring live Zoom personal training sessions, taken up by over 100 colleagues.

 greater together behind the scenes

Due to the pandemic, we had to rethink the way in which we connected and engaged with our colleagues. We did this by delivering a number of virtual conferences and events, including:

  • a Leadership Conference, Managers’ Conference and an All-Colleague Conference and Awards Ceremony virtually attended by around 800 colleagues;
  • regular virtual ‘Chat with Matt’ sessions, which gave colleagues the opportunity to ask questions to our Chief Executive.

Following our merger with Equity, we developed our new GREATER Together culture, where all of our people have a meaningful voice and are empowered and trusted to work collaboratively towards achieving our ambitions.

We are innovative and committed to delivering excellence for our customers and partners, and we promote fairness and respect in all that we do. All of this helps us to be GREATER Together.

GREATER defines the difference in how we do things and enables us to focus on a way of working that supports us to develop, nurture and protect our culture.GREATER Together pillars

Our new GREATER cultural pillars encourage our colleagues to be:

GROWING – colleague development is important to us; we support them to grow so that together we can achieve our great ambitions. Our commitment to learning is at the heart of all we do.

RESPECTFUL - we respect all of our colleagues and encourage them to bring their true selves to the workplace.  We celebrate diversity and commit to being a fair, open and inclusive organisation.

EMPOWERING - we recognise the importance of great leadership in developing a culture where colleagues can thrive. We commit to enabling and empowering colleagues to be and do their best.

ACHIEVING - we are highly ambitious and recognise we have very high standards and expectations. We are proud of this and commit to supporting our colleagues to achieve success together.

TRUSTED - we are clear on who we are and what is important to us and trust our colleagues to deliver against this in line with our values. We develop mutual trust, always remembering this isn’t one way. 

EXCELLING - we recognise continually improving is key to achieving our ambition to be the best; we actively invest in improving our processes, systems and services, and learn from experience.

REPUTABLE - we care about what matters to all of our colleagues. We continually provide them with a meaningful voice to shape the way we work. We do what we say we do, we remember who we are, and we operate in a way that remains true to our vision, values and purpose. 

Our Growing Greatness programme has seen several colleagues secure permanent positions in various teams across the business.

As part of The Academy, our learning and development offering, the programme is targeted at graduates and apprentices looking to gain experience from an entry-level position.

At the end of February 2021, we had employed 27 colleagues who were originally recruited through the programme into permanent positions. Of these colleagues, seven of our 11 original Growing Greatness graduates remained employed with us, equating to a healthy 65 per cent retention rate, which is above the national average.

Despite the pandemic, we have extended contracts to cover the end of training dates for colleagues and, where needed, helped move them into more suitable roles. We are also working with our training partners to ensure all our graduates and apprentices reach their end point assessments.

To hear more about our Growing Greatness success stories please watch the video below:

Other pages in Annual Report 2021