Employee engagement at The Barnet Group

Expert help to take the next step on their employee engagement journey.

Going beyond the employee survey data to help them understand, and then act on, what is really driving their peoples’ engagement at work.

ETS started working with The Barnet Group late in 2019 having been chosen after a rigorous selection process selected to run their employee engagement survey.

The Barnet Group is classified as an ALMO – or arm’s length management organisation, wholly owned by the London Borough of Barnet. Originally the Group was just Barnet Homes, but it has grown through adding a Care & Support arm – ‘Your Choice Barnet’ to their business as well as a registered social housing provider and now has just under 1,000 employees.

Challenge

The expansion of their business was a big part of their need to focus more on employee engagement. With the care & support parts of their business having more employees than the traditional housing operations, The Barnet Group senior leadership team recognised the need for a fresh approach to reach this large and mostly field-based population.

Mary Cawley, Head of PR & Communications at The Barnet Group, explains their choice of ETS as a partner:

“Having previously worked with a supplier who had a formulaic process and lacked a qualitative understanding of our results, we were immediately impressed by what we heard from ETS. We liked their approach and ability to take us beyond the survey scores to understand the true meaning behind our data.”

Solution

The ETS team worked side-by-side with The Barnet Group, involving key stakeholder groups in the design of a new survey programme with the aims of ensuring the survey would measure what it needed to, while also strengthening buy-in from these groups.

Since then, ETS has run two surveys for The Barnet Group – a 2020 ‘full census’ annual engagement survey and a temperature check in Spring 2021. Naturally, this has coincided with Covid, which has impacted significantly on The Barnet Group’s people and their engagement, particularly those front-line employees working in the YCB settings and care homes, and in the community. Indeed, the temperature check focused heavily on this, seeking to understand how people were coping during this time.

 

Following each survey exercise, our business psychologists have supported The Barnet Group to gain a deep understanding of their results and to guide them on what to do next. This has seen us run a playback session for their executives, an action planning workshop with the senior leadership team, and later work closely with their ‘middle’ managers.

Outcomes

Increasing overall engagement levels remains a key strategic focus for The Barnet Group moving forwards. And, within this and following guidance from ETS, they are focussing on how they can better support and develop leaders at all levels. They recognise the pivotal role leaders play in driving engagement, particularly managers at a local level. One action taken after the survey therefore was to ask ETS to run a manager training workshop for their group of ‘middle’ managers. These sessions sought to equip managers with coaching skills and guide them on how to manage the wellbeing of their teams.

To ensure the senior leadership team is role modelling desired behaviours from the top down, ETS has recently led a session with the senior leadership team to discuss the three key drivers of engagement emerging from the temperature check, and to seek their buy-in to addressing these by asking for their individual commitments against each of these drivers.

Partnership with ETS

In describing the relationship The Barnet Group has enjoyed with ETS, Mary Cawley comments:

“Every person has been superb – very patient, nothing is ever too much trouble for the ETS project team we work with. They possess sharp intelligence, great listening skills and a commitment to always finding a practical solution for us. I would go so far as to say that, of all the external companies I’ve worked with across people services, ETS is the standout one.”

Shaun McLean, Executive Director, Finance & Resources, adds:

“ETS are consummate professionals having now delivered two employee engagement surveys for The Barnet Group. They make it their business to thoroughly understand the client’s business objectives, and always ‘go the extra mile’ to deliver a first-class service.”

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