Ashford Borough Council: Winners of Most Creative Communications for Public Sector/Charity Organisations at the Engagement Excellence Awards 2015
Ashford Borough Council wanted to reward their staff for hard work and dedication whilst considering value for money amidst budget cuts and service reviews. Since the engagement platform launch, staff satisfaction has improved by 53 points and there is now national recognition of the Council’s employer brand.
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Employee engagement platform
Ashford Borough Council wanted to reward their staff for hard work and dedication whilst considering value for money amidst budget cuts and service reviews. They wanted to protect their recruitment and retention levels to bring in and keep talented people who are passionate about providing excellent service to every resident and customer. The main challenge would be to convince the Management Team that the investment would be worthwhile.
Initial research showed that 80% of staff read the electronic monthly staff magazine so Ashford Borough Council issued them a survey to gauge the interest of an employee benefits scheme. After just one day, over a quarter of staff had responded with voices of support for the platform to be set up.
This was enough to convince the Management Team that despite the economic climate, an employee benefits scheme would be a good investment but set some key strategic objectives. They wanted to make sure staff satisfaction was improved and maintained, create an employer brand recognised for caring about their staff, ensure the council received excellent value for money and increase engagement with activities and events.
Ashford Borough Council planned to use a direct communication strategy to promote growth and maintain interest. To do this, they needed to consider their wider workforce and use a range of engagement tools to reach them. As it is a largely older workforce and less likely to use their own time to explore how the platform worked, a greater emphasis was put on promotion and instruction.
My Ashford Rewards was launched in April 2011 and the scheme took off immediately. A lot of thought had been put into the scheme name, colours, branding and the logo – which incorporated Ashford Borough Council’s very own piggy bank mascot, Sir Wilbur of Trottsville. The promotion was kept light hearted, fun and reinvented the communication imagery for different times of the year. Wilbur also featured heavily in their internal communications, and along with his wife Wilhelmina and their piglet stars they held their own monthly article showing staff how they can use the site by highlighting different offers.
The internal strategy consisted of proactive communications that used all of the different channels available, including quarterly competitions that put staff into a prize draw for a £50 voucher of their choice just for logging in, posters, intranet news and carousel images. This type of communication worked well as the majority of their staff are based on one site. They are continuously reminded about the site by a range of methods and it begins to form part of their everyday shopping habits.
Take up and spend has been amazing for the size of Ashford Borough Council’s workforce. There is 80% engagement with the platform, 342 live registrations and to date there has been a spend of £630k – which has given employees a saving of £54k. Staff satisfaction has improved by 53 points and there is now national recognition of the Council’s employer brand. Value for money has been achieved as the £54k saving employees have made would have cost £65k as a pay rise and there has been such an increase in engagement with activities and events that a full engagement schedule has been planned for the whole year.
employee engagement with platform
saved among employees through discounts