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Great People

At Great Places we’re committed to creating a positive working environment where engaged colleagues can thrive and enjoy interesting and rewarding careers. We encourage all of our colleagues to embrace our vision and values, and are working hard to firmly embed our new GREATER Together culture and ensure it’s ingrained in everything we do.

We want all of our great people to feel a sense of belonging to Great Places, and know they are respected for who they are. We value diversity and understand how it can make a real difference in helping us move our business forward, as well as allowing us to understand and reflect the needs of the people we serve.

Our new recruits: the year in numbers

It’s been quite a year for our Great People as we continued to transform our teams and approach through the integration and transformation work that has dominated the last 12 months.

During this time, turnover was at 26%, which is symbolic of the post-Covid challenges and the tough operating and recruitment environment that we are currently operating in; this is a sector-wide issue and we are working hard to address the challenges.

We were delighted to welcome our new recruits into the business during what has been an exciting time to join us as as we start to build on the benefits of the merger.

Key stats about our new recruits from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022 are below.

Health and wellbeing

Over the course of the year we lost 5% of working time due to sickness. Some 16% of this was Covid-related, with the highest levels of absence being during November and December 2021 and January 2022.

The highest reason for absence over the year was poor mental health, including stress, anxiety, depression and low mood; 35% of our total absence was attributable to poor mental health. In response we have a proactive approach to supporting colleague health, including an eight-week body transformation challenge which has been attended by approximately 200 colleagues and works on improving both physical and mental health. Musculo-skeletal conditions accounted for 12% of absence and 7% was due to cancer. 50% of our colleagues had no sickness absence during the year.

Shaping our future together

Since the merger we have been focused on bringing together the best of both legacy organisations, both operationally and culturally, to create one vibrant and supportive business where the expertise and aspirations of our 800 colleagues can flourish.

Specifically, we have re-organised to ensure that our combined knowledge, skills, ingenuity and organisational energy are in the right place to deliver great homes, support great communities and best serve our customers.

We involved our colleagues in the re-structuring process, consulting them about ideas and proposals, and together we shaped our collective future. We were ambitious and forward thinking, anticipating areas where demand for our services will increase and where growth will require additional resources.

We enhanced our existing strengths by recruiting talented individuals who share our vision and values and will contribute to our future success. The restructuring and recruitment programme was supported by huge investment in training for the ‘go live’ of our new housing management system on 4 April.

Our new Great People Strategy

As one business, organised to deliver our corporate priorities, we have developed a new Great People Strategy which will consolidate the achievements of the merger. Specifically, this outlines our commitments to:

  • Growing and developing: concentrating on delivering brilliant basics, we will embed core knowledge, skills and behaviours to align to the expectations of our customers and the Government’s White Paper. We will equip our leaders and managers to nurture and grow talent according to individual capability and aspiration.
  • Recruiting and attracting: investing in our presence in the market and our ‘can do’ reputation, we will attract and recruit great people using a newly created Internal Recruitment Team. We recognise we are under represented in some key areas, including ethnicity and disability, and will look to understand and remove barriers to recruitment and progression.
  • Engage, empower and energise: maximising the clear line of sight for each individual to our social purpose, attitudes, behaviours and values, we will inspire and motivate our people to do their best work, from their most appropriate working location. The environment and culture will support positive wellbeing and allow colleagues to flourish.
  • Apprentices and graduates: continuing to invest in our Growing Greatness Programme, we will create pathways for customers and new recruits through our Apprentice and Graduate positions to learn and move into permanent successful careers.
  • Teams of teams: harnessing our collective talents, operating cohesively, sharing knowledge and resources and supporting each other are key to becoming greater together. We will create a strong sense of belonging where everyone wants to contribute to achieving our corporate ambitions.

Commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

In February 2021 we launched our new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy following consultation with our colleagues and customers. The strategy has an increased focus on creating a culture of inclusion both in our workplaces and in our local communities. We want everyone to feel a sense of belonging to Great Places, and to feel respected and valued for who they are.

A key part of the EDI Strategy is to ensure that our customers and colleagues have a meaningful voice, and that they are actively involved in shaping the decisions we make. During the year we have been holding regular sessions with colleagues so they may share their experiences with us and help identify ways we can improve the way we support them. Sessions also focused on how we can better adapt and tailor the services we offer to our diverse customer groups.  Feedback from customers was also gathered to help inform our new Customer Voice Strategy, and first steps were taken in expanding our menu of options for engagement to ensure a more diverse representation of our customer base. As part of this we helped launch Rainbow Roofs, a new forum for LGBT+ customers in partnership with our partners at Houseproud North West. Click on the video below to find out more.


We also established a range of EDI colleague forums to focus on key issues such as race equality, culturally sensitive practices, LGBT+ inclusion, carers rights and menopause in the workplace. These forums have been actively engaged in key policy and strategy reviews, including our new People Strategy. Find out more about one of these groups, our Race and Religion Forum, in the video below.

As we go into the next phase of our EDI strategy we will be targeting ways to increase our knowledge of our customers, their needs and their aspirations. We will be providing new opportunities for customers to have their voices heard, and to help us shape our service offer to meet the needs of everyone. We will also be focusing on initiatives to ensure we better reflect our diverse customer base. This includes a review of our recruiting practices to help make them more inclusive, and the implementation of new development programmes to support colleagues from diverse ethnic communities to progress within the business.


Our Growing Greatness Programme

We launched our Growing Greatness programme for apprentices and graduates in 2018. Since then the programme has created 42 new roles and provided an excellent platform for new colleagues to study for professional qualifications while also gaining practical, on-the-job experience. We have also supported 16 colleagues over the last year to continue their own professional development through the completion of an apprenticeship qualification.

58% of our apprentices went on to secure permanent roles within the business on completion of Growing Greatness, with many others gaining additional fixed-term contracts or moving on to traineeships. 22% of the apprentices that joined are still completing their apprenticeships with us and have had extensions to their initial contracts so they could embark on a Level 3 qualifications. That’s an amazing 80% success rate in terms of the apprentice programme, providing ongoing development or future career opportunities. In fact, when we look at the success of our Graduates, 87.5% moved into permanent positions within the business following the completion of their programme.

We are now moving forward with the preparation for our 2022 intake – this will see us welcome a further 17 apprentices and 8 graduates onto Growing Greatness this year, and launch the next internal apprenticeship development programme too, with a key focus on our commitment to professionalising the Housing Sector through the completion of the CIH qualification. This will see us increase the number of colleagues supported by the programme from 58 to at least 83. After the impact of COVID-19 limiting some of our recent recruitment, this new cohort will really support us to move towards our corporate ambition of 10% of our permanent workforce having been employed through the Growing Greatness scheme.

Find out more about some of our Growing Greatness success stories in the video below.

Communication and connection in a hybrid-working world

In July 2021 we launched our new approach to hybrid working, with the aim of empowering colleagues to find the right balance in terms of where they spend their time so they are working efficiently, delivering great customer service and achieving a good work-life balance.
We call this approach GREATER Working and it allows us to think and behave differently, working even more efficiently to deliver excellent services and high performance across the business. There are three vital ingredients to getting this right as we Adapt, Collaborate and Trust; we collectively ACT for success. In our December Pulse survey 89% of colleagues agreed that Great Places allows them to work flexibly and 83% reported that they can strike a good balance between their home and working life.

As we adapted to the post-pandemic world and hybrid working, we were also faced with a new challenge: how do we engage all our colleagues whether they are front line, office based and increasingly, remote workers?

This prompted our Communications Team to research company podcasts (and vodcasts) and create an in-house studio in what was a chair storage cupboard at our head office, on a very small budget.

We are now producing two podcasts a month – one hosted by our CEO and one that is colleague led – and the analytics show that this new platform is landing very well. The team will continue to analyse the data and build on the early progress that has been made to date.

Video equipment in Eatery

The pandemic also forced us to rethink our colleague events. Our Leaders’ and Managers’ conference was due to take place in January 2022 face-to-face but with new work from home guidance being issued we decided to host the event ourselves completely in-house using our new equipment, the new studio and a specially created set in our Eatery at Head Office.

The event was a mix of live and pre-recorded content which was live mixed on the day by talented colleagues in the Communications Team with support from our wider events group. It was a great success, with overwhelmingly positive feedback and almost 100% viewership throughout. We also managed to save our organisation a substantial amount of money from producing it all in house. Going forward, we will provide a mix of virtual and face-to-face events to meet the diverse needs of our colleagues, customers and stakeholders.