Watford Community Housing faced numerous challenges when it came to employee engagement, particularly among its off-site workforce, many of whom felt undervalued. When Libby Wadkins joined the organisation, she was tasked with overhauling its benefits offering to tackle these problems.
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Employee recognition, Employee discounts, employee benefits, Childcare Vouchers, Cycle to Work
Libby Wadkins joined Watford Community Housing as an HR apprentice straight out of sixth form in September 2016. In the same month, the results from the team’s staff survey showed that the NPS was +43, while the survey’s participation rate was just 33.7%. It was decided that part of Libby’s role would be to increase employee engagement.
The biggest challenge Libby faced was having employees understand why it was important to be engaged and how it positively impacts the organisation. As she was the most junior member of the team, she faced the possibility of not being taken seriously, making the challenge even more difficult.
Libby identified three key findings in the survey to shape the engagement strategy:
To frame her approach, Libby used this definition of employee engagement: “the emotional commitment an employee has to the organisation and its goals.” This gave her a key piece of information – employees must emotionally feel the benefit of any engagement activities the team provide to believe that it’s making an impact on their work.
First, Libby put together a communications plan around the organisation’s benefit offer, which included the development of a benefits booklet, posters, flyers, articles on the intranet, use of internal digital notice boards and video updates.
From her research, Libby found that engagement among off-site workers was low, with sickness absence levels in those areas being higher than the organisational average, which suggested the employees weren’t feeling valued. Libby developed a care package for each employee to influence positive wellbeing, including items such as a stress ball, dashboard wipes, hand sanitiser and pocket tissues, screen wipes for their work mobile phone and a travel mug. The packages also included the benefits booklet, details on the organisation’s health cash plan, a leaflet explaining the EAP programme and a voucher for a free massage with the on-site masseur.
To bring the “we care” message forward, Libby chose to give out the care packages on Valentine’s Day. Even office-based employees received desk drops, complete with a heart-shaped lollipop and a Post-It note reading “Why I love working with…,” which allowed employees to write positive messages about their colleagues and share them communally. Over 40 post-its were filled out and shared.
On Employee Appreciation Day, Libby organised 188 personalised, hand-written cards and posted them to employees’ home addresses. Libby also creatively merged the company’s Total Reward Statement (TRS) launch with Easter by organising distributing Easter eggs. She ordered 188 eggs and, with a little help from the Reward Gateway design team, put a sticker on each egg encouraging employees to log in and download their TRS.
It’s been three years since Libby joined Watford Community Housing, and she now holds the permanent position of HR Assistant. Libby is seen as a positive and driving force within the organisation.
Watford Community Housing’s most recent annual engagement survey showed that overall engagement increased by 9% on the previous year. The survey had a 59.2% participation rate, a drastic increase from the 33.7% participation rate when Libby first started.
Over the past year, numerous thank you cards have landed on Libby’s desk from staff members. She also received a staff award for providing excellent service to HR service users, and the organisation’s finance and resources director rewarded her with a director’s award.
increase in overall employee engagement
increase in engagement survey participation