Set up in 2005, the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) (http://www.pensionprotectionfund.org.uk) protects millions of people who belong to defined benefit, such as final salary, pension schemes in the UK. If their employers fail, and their pension schemes cannot afford to pay what they promised, the PPF will pay compensation for their lost pensions.
Developing the Pension Protection Fund’s first bespoke employee survey
The PPF plays a vital role in protecting people’s futures and, with 300+ employees, it is committed to improving employee engagement and delivering excellent customer service. In early 2016, the PPF hired Employee Feedback to set up a new employee survey and help to improve employee engagement throughout the organisation.
Taking a tailored approach
As one of the Pension Protection Fund’s KPIs, employee engagement is a year-round focus. Representatives of the PPF’s six directorates sit on the Employee Engagement Group and Employee Liaison Committee and, between 2011 and 2015, the organisation took part in the not-for-profit category of the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For. In 2015, the PPF’s Executive Committee decided it needed to improve the employee feedback process.
“Our Board understands why employee engagement is so important and we have key objectives that relate back to employee engagement on our organisational KPIs,” adds Michelle Goode, Head of Internal Communications. “For this stage of our evolution, we needed a different kind of survey so that we could meet these targets.”
In late 2015, the PPF reviewed a number of employee survey providers and selected Employee Feedback to design and run its 2016 ViewPoint survey.
“We spoke to five or six companies and drew up a shortlist for face-to-face meetings,” says Sue. “Chris and Mark at Employee Feedback really impressed us because they have such a deep knowledge of the subject. It wasn’t just about the questionnaire, it was their whole approach. They are very credible when they talk about employee engagement and, very importantly, they share our values.”
Part of the culture
Employee Feedback began by running focus groups so that PPF employees could share their thoughts. Taking this initial feedback into account, Chris and Mark designed the bespoke survey and employees were invited to complete the questionnaire in December 2016. Employee Feedback then analysed the results, created a series of reports and briefed the PPF’s Executive Committee about the results soon after the survey closed so that action planning sessions could take place quickly.
The Organisational Development and Internal Communications teams worked together to communicate the survey, encouraging employees to take part and informing them of the results once available.
“Over the past few years, I’ve been to team meetings to reassure our people that their views will be listened to and that we’ll publish action plans based on their feedback,” comments Sue. “Our employees see surveys as a positive thing. They have become part of our culture.”
Michelle adds, “When we decided to change the survey, we were very open with our employees. We held town halls where we discussed how we needed to get more information out of the next survey so that we can make this an even better place to work. Some people were concerned that we wouldn’t be on the Sunday Times list any more but we reassured them that, to get to the next level, we needed to go elsewhere.”
A comprehensive internal communications campaign for the 2016 ViewPoint survey included a blog by the CEO, articles on the intranet, features in the internal magazine and a poster campaign. With all PPF employees based in one office building, face-to-face communication was central to the survey process. Senior managers and the Employee Liaison Committee were briefed, directors discussed the survey in team meetings and, once the results were available, Sue held a series of briefing sessions for employees.
As Michelle notes, “Personal interaction has many advantages. We’re committed to being transparent and I think people here feel genuinely listened to.”
Better experience, more powerful data
This trust in the survey process is reflected in the high completion rate in 2016, with 88% of PPF employees taking part in the new ViewPoint survey.
“Many people have said they’re delighted with it,” says Sue. “They have told me it’s ‘much more PPF’, especially in terms of the language we used. Working with Employee Feedback, we’ve been able to make it a better experience.”
Michelle comments that Employee Feedback challenged the PPF in their thinking. “We really appreciated their expert opinion. They certainly weren’t just nodding their heads to us.
With data playing an increasingly important role in people and organisational development, the PPF’s HR team will have access to a range of information about employees in 2017.
“Our Executive Committee takes employee survey data very seriously. We’ve also installed a new HR system and we’re introducing 360 degree feedback for our senior leaders so, along with the ViewPoint data, we’ll be able to see patterns across the organisation,” notes Sue.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with Chris and Mark,” she adds. “They are extremely knowledgeable about engagement and getting the best out of surveys. They know their stuff and their passion for what they do comes through. I feel they genuinely care about my organisation and want to help us.”