Since 2000, being an ‘excellent employer’ has been a key part of RHP’s vision. In this article Chloë Marsh discusses the companies efforts to build employee engagement within the organisation.

At RHP we’re passionate about the intrinsic link between engaged employees and better business results – in fact being an ‘excellent employer’ has been a key part of our vision since we were formed in 2000. Over the past few years the housing sector has been going through unprecedented changes – we are operating in an increasingly risky environment with many ‘givens’ over the past 30 years now gone. Therefore to help us respond positively to these changes we needed to create a step change to excellence and unleash the talent and creativity in our business. Our answer was to launch our cultural change programme ‘iamrhp’.

Strong foundations

The first thing we did to implement iamrhp was to carry out an end to end review of all our people processes. We changed the way we recruited, with a desire to engage prospective employees through their very first interactions with us with modern job adverts and JDs that reflected the iamrhp personality and behaviours. We recruit based on behaviours first and technical skills (which can be learnt) second, with our challenging yet fun (yes fun! Candidates actually tell us they enjoyed the experience successful or not) assessment centres designed to allow people to be themselves, let their personalities shine and show us what they’ve got.
Love to learn

We place a high importance on learning and know that learning is best when fun, memorable and personal, creating 99% of our programmes internally. An example of our creative approach is using the popular game show ‘Deal or no deal’ to explore risk, playing murder mystery for problem solving and using online gamification to improve digital skills.

Throwing out the suggestion box

There’s no suggestion box at RHP with dusty bits of paper inside that no-one ever reads. We celebrate a point of view and provide various channels for people to have their say –two of the most popular being our internal social network yammer and also our very own video booth the ‘RHP Express’ (not just for the ‘selfie’ generation!)

We even have a debating forum! ‘Great place to debate’ is run like a political debate, where two teams of employees argue either side of a topical question in front of an audience who then votes for the team who swayed them most at the end. It’s proved one of our most successful engagement activities with both the teams involved and audience learning lots along the way.

Looking outside-in

Over the past few years we’ve emphasized the importance of looking externally for inspiration that can help us move forward as a business. Examples of how we do this is our monthly speaker programme ‘A Great place to think’ which aims to improve business knowledge and awareness, broaden perspectives and stretch thinking. For employees we have ‘Live Lounge’ – an informal session led by subject experts, based on the concept of a stripped back acoustic set. Topics have range from things such as mental health, social media and health and fitness.

Innovation is for employees too

We talk a lot about innovating to provide better services for our customers and to create business efficiencies that’ll allow us to build more homes. However it’s important to remember that innovation is just as important for your employees. Just as we aim to give our customers choice and convenience, we do the same for our employees offering a range of self-service options they can use on the go including our award winning benefits portal ‘RHPerks’. We’ve also worked hard to create a culture where innovation is driven from employee level with things such as the introduction of our own version of Dragons Den called ‘4 in 4’ where people can come and pitch an idea for business improvement.

A great space to work

Great people deserve a great environment to help them be at their best and that’s why we’ve created unique meeting rooms and breakout areas to inspire our people to think creatively and come up with innovative solutions. Our latest addition to our office space is a 60 seat ‘touch down’ area which has been designed to encourage collaborative working and stimulate creativity..
The proof’s in the pudding

All of this work has impacted on both our employee and customer engagement scores as well as business results. Some of the highlights include:

• In three years our employee engagement scores went from 87% satisfied to 97% satisfied and from 59% ‘very satisfied’ to 75% ‘very satisfied’.

• We’ve seen a 24% reduction in customer complaints which we also dealt with more quickly (going from an average resolution of 4 days to just 1.6 days)

• 75% of our customers believe we’re ‘easy to do business with’.

• We’ve maintained our financial strength with the lowest credit rating in the sector (-AA) and also secured a £175M own named bond which we’ll use to invest in providing 2000 more new homes over the next eight years.

• Extending our reach by becoming the first organisation in the sector to deliver a full suite of digital services available any time, any place and on any device giving customers more choice, convenience and control.

We’ve also gained external recognition through a number of high profile awards including being named as the best place to work in the 2016 Great place to work ‘Best workplaces list’ (medium category), topping Inside Housing’s Dolphin innovation index the past two years running and winning various customer focused awards such as the UK Customer Experience Award for ‘Engaging customers online’.

And we’re not stopping there. We never get complacent at RHP and are continually looking for new, fresh and innovative ways to engage our employees. We have exciting plans for 2017 including an enhanced wellbeing strategy that will provide more digital tools (e.g. mindfulness and fitness apps) and focus on life skills such as managing personal finances. We’ll be introducing more rewards focused around innovation, a whole new online learning portal and we’ll launch our new behavior and skills framework which has been refreshed to reflect the competencies we need our employees to demonstrate now if we’re to achieve our business goals. Of course there’ll be lots more besides but that’d be telling!

Keep up to date with what we up to at www.rhp.org.uk, following us @rhp_uk on twitter or connecting with us via LinkedIn.