Having grown from a small civil engineering business in North Wales to one of the UK’s leading residential housing developers, Redrow Homes (https://www.redrow.co.uk/) now has 2,100 employees across 14 divisions. From architects to sales consultants, apprentices to software developers, employee engagement is a fundamental part of Redrow’s people strategy. It has been working with Employee Feedback since 2015.
Creating a solid foundation for employee engagement at Redrow Homes
Fast-moving, always improving
Heather Bowness, Group Human Resources Manager at Redrow, has seen the award-winning housebuilder evolve during her 15 years at the company. With hundreds of trainees and a focus on growing its own talent – more than 40% of the senior team come from within the company – it is vital that management understands how people feel about working at Redrow. “Quality is the cornerstone of our business”, says the company’s careers website, and listening to employees is central to this.
“About five years ago, we recognised that we needed to reformulate our ‘employer of choice’ strategy. We’d rebuilt the business after the 2008/9 recession, we were growing quickly and we needed to redefine who we were as an employer,” explains Heather. “So, in 2013, we worked with a branding agency to develop our employer brand: ‘The making of you’. With such a wealth of data about how we could attract and retain the best talent, we also started planning annual employee surveys.”
In late 2014, Heather conducted an online search for employee engagement consultants and had an initial phone conversation with Chris McGivern of Employee Feedback.
“We’d spoken to another survey company but they didn’t offer much in terms of reporting and their timelines weren’t flexible enough. On the other hand, Chris was passionate about providing survey analytics down to local team level and he wasn’t worried about our 10-week lead time.”
Redrow’s first meeting with Employee Feedback confirmed they were a good fit and they were commissioned to conduct the company’s employee survey in 2015.
It’s all about the analytics
“We ran our first INsight survey with 60 questions in 2015 and we’ve followed that up this year with around 20 questions in our INsight barometer,” says Heather. “We had a really good response rate and some positive results in the first year so we didn’t want to leave it too long before doing another survey. We now alternate between full and mini surveys each year.”
The survey cycle runs throughout the year and Redrow uses a variety of channels to encourage employees to take part and communicate the results, including its internal magazine, divisional briefings and team meetings. Heather also worked with Employee Feedback to create a presentation for the INsight steering group, which includes Redrow board members and other senior stakeholders.
As Heather explains, “Employee Feedback does a huge amount of reporting for us, which is really useful. They are very credible and quickly gained the respect of senior management as they understand so much about surveys and engagement. The way they present engagement measures was new for our steering group – it wasn’t part of our HR language – but it resonated well the first year and was even more powerful this year when we could see movement on the engagement grid.”
Employee Feedback provided a range of reports, from Group-wide summaries down to individual team level (minimum of six team members) as well as other groupings, such as trainees, senior management and by age. The results of the survey, which were largely very positive, were used to benchmark Redrow against other high-performing (top quartile) organisations in the Employee Feedback database.
As a result of the surveys and additional feedback, there is now a good life cycle of action planning at a local level within Redrow. The company has also introduced Group-wide communications guidelines to help Managing Directors engage their people through briefings, notice boards and other channels.
Running through the company’s veins
“Our Board and Managing Directors are very people-focused and now they’ve had cracking results, they realise the importance of small touches of communication and want to do even better,” adds Heather. “One of our new MDs even asked to see the survey results on their first day at Redrow!”
With HR data feeding into Redrow’s wider business and sustainability strategies, Heather acknowledges the importance of the employee survey findings and other people metrics.
As she says, “The data gives you so much power. If you get more than 80% of your employees responding to a survey, that’s really solid and it gets you credibility with senior management. Our Board is keen to get meaningful data that can be acted upon –maintaining what is working well and taking action in areas where there is scope for improvement.”
They are also happy to re-run the data and compile detailed reports so that the findings are meaningful. It’s only been two years but we’re starting to see employee engagement running through our veins here at Redrow,” she concludes.