Employee engagement at RHP Group

Happy employees
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Chloe Marsh
Head of Engagement
Richmond Housing Partnership
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Chloe Marsh is Head of Engagement at RHP Group.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRZone: Why do you think you appeared on the Great Place to Work Best Workplaces list? What makes you stand out?

Chloe Marsh, Head of Engagement, RHP: If I had to pick one thing it’d be our unique culture.

We’ve worked hard to create an environment where people are motivated to be the best they can be, are empowered and trusted to make decisions and take risks and feel they have plenty of opportunities to tell us what they think.

Oh and we always make sure we have fun along the way! We hire people based on behaviours first and technical skills second which helps us to protect this culture as we’re recruiting people who already live our values.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRZone: What is your approach to employee engagement? What is the underlying belief?

Chloe Marsh, Head of Engagement, RHP: For us it’s putting our people at the heart of everything we do – we know our people are our most potent asset and we are passionate about the link between engaged employees and better business results.

We make sure that our values and culture run through everything we do as early as our job adverts and assessment centres, through to our welcome programmes, L&D activities and regular engagement events.

It’s also really important to keep refreshing the ways that people can share their views.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRZone: What have you learnt about engagement that has helped you be more successful?

Chloe Marsh, Head of Engagement, RHP: If you want people to engage with you, your activities need to be memorable, fun and personal.

Examples include our ‘Great place to debate’ discussion forum where two teams debate a topical issue, our own version of Dragon’s Den ‘4 in 4’ where employees pitch ideas for innovation, and playing ‘Deal or no deal’ to explore people’s appetite for risk.

It’s also really important to keep refreshing the ways that people can share their views – our two most popular channels are our internal social network Yammer and also our very own video booth (not just for the ‘selfie’ generation!)

One caveat to all of this though is that before you can ‘play’ with the more flashy side of engagement, you have to have the basics nailed.

Underpinning our engagement programme are robust HR practises which mean we hire the right people, employees get regular and meaningful feedback, we have a range of ways people can be rewarded and recognised and we gain input from an employee representative group (who we call ‘engagement champions’) on anything from pension changes to where we hold our Christmas party.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRZone: Most common mistakes that other organisations make when it comes to engagement?

Chloe Marsh, Head of Engagement, RHP: Using the excuse that to do anything creative costs money – it's imagination not budget that makes the difference.

Often when we tell people everything we do in terms of employee engagement they say ‘that’s easy for you to do, but we just don’t have the budget.’ Then they do nothing.

We’re a not-for-profit organisation and we therefore don’t have big bucks to spend. Instead we use skills from inside the organisation to bring ideas to life, develop (or co-create) all our own training and do all of our own internal branding.

A good example of this is our themed meeting rooms which everyone thinks an external design agency did.

The truth is they were designed and installed all by members of our facilities and comms team with even our Executive Director of Corporate Services taking a trip to B&Q to help out!

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRZone: How do you get employees on board for engagement initiatives?

Chloe Marsh, Head of Engagement, RHP: My first tip would be to establish champions in different teams that would help kick things off for you and encourage their peers to do the same.

Sometimes people don’t want to be the first to get involved but it often only takes one person to get the ball rolling and then you’ll find others will follow.

For us one of the big step changes is how we tie digital into wellbeing providing access to things such as mindfulness and fitness apps.

Secondly we’d always be overt about ‘what’s in it for them’, whether that’s learning something new, getting the chance to drive an exciting new business objective or the chance for praise and recognition.

Finally, if all else fails it often helps to offer a little incentive or an element of competition (even as something as small as a coffee voucher works to grab attention!).

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRZone: What's next for employee engagement at RHP?

Chloe Marsh, Head of Engagement, RHP: We have a major emphasis on innovation at the moment and therefore we’ll be looking at ways to encourage innovation at all levels across the organisation and more specifically how we reward and recognise ‘evolutionary’ innovation not just ‘revolutionary’.

2017 is also going to be our ‘year of wellbeing’ where we’re going to find even more ways we can support our employees to feel good physically and mentally and also provide help with skilful living (e.g. financial awareness).

For us one of the big step changes is how we tie digital into wellbeing providing access to things such as mindfulness and fitness apps.

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