Going beyond Platinum: our goal to achieve record-breaking employee engagement

26th February 2019

We’re coming up to an important anniversary at RHP: a year since we were awarded Investors in People Platinum - the highest accolade in people practices, leadership and culture. This was the culmination of years of hard work and a relentless focus on our people and being an inspiring workplace.

We didn’t think it could get much better than that in terms of recognition - until last November, when we were named as Investor in People’s Platinum Employer of the Year. It’s still sinking in to be honest and I remain beaming with pride for the amazing people who work hard every day at RHP to maintain our special culture.

It has left us with a bit of a problem, however (OK, hands up! It’s a very good problem to have but a challenge nonetheless)...

Where do we go from here?

It’s perfect timing to ask this question as we embark on delivering our new five-year strategy. One of our four strategic pillars remains being ‘an inspiring place to work’ and we’ve put thought into how we go 'beyond platinum'. Or, to use the age-old record sales analogy, how do we go 'multi-platinum'? Here are three of the key areas we’ll be focusing on:

1.Work is something you do, not somewhere you go

We’ve been working hard over the past few years to become more of a flexible workplace, however if we’re going to become multi-platinum, we know we need to do more. For us it’s the realisation that one size doesn’t fit all with working options – people have different jobs, different lives and different needs. Just as some people benefit from home-working and a flexible working pattern, others would rather be in the office. Therefore, what we’re working towards is greater choice about how people can work. Key to supporting this is putting the right tools in place, so no matter where someone is they can still feel connected, communicate and collaborate with the people they need to. We also recognise that one of the things that makes our culture special is the strong sense of camaraderie we have so we'll need digital tools to keep this, as well as making sure we still provide opportunities to get together in person.

2.A culture defined by creativity and innovation

One of our big strategy goals is to become the test-bed for new ideas within our sector – openly sharing our learning with others. For this to happen we need to continue to build on our culture of creativity and innovation. In March we're launching a refreshed programme of innovation, which includes a mixture of learning opportunities (like visits to other forward-thinking organisations), structured programmes (including an updated version of our Dragon’s Den style initiative where employees pitch an idea for business transformation) and campaigns to encourage employees to share micro-innovations – the tiny, daily sparks people have that lead to business improvements. We’re lucky that a member of our Development team, Jay took part in the fantastic Greenhouse Project. Jay's brought a lot of learning back into the organisation around a methodology and process for innovation and we’re building some of this in to our approach.

3.A growing investment

Learning and Development budgets are often the first to be slashed during cost-saving exercises. I've always protected ours. How can you expect people to firstly do a good job and secondly feel engaged if you’re not investing in their personal and professional development? I do, however believe this needs to be done with a lot of thought and purpose, with evaluations taking place for big learning programmes to ensure a return on investment.

Over the next 12 months, we’ll be focusing on five core L&D strands, based on the areas we believe will make the biggest difference in achieving our five-year strategy goals: Leadership Development, Digital skills, Creativity and innovation, Financial Awareness and Coaching. 

We’ll be making a shift in how we deliver training too – running short, bite-sized sessions but frequently following up on the same topic to make sure it gets fully embedded. Also, as 70% of learning is said to be on the job, we’ll be creating more opportunities for people to broaden their skills through a project-based approach. So, instead of being confined to our traditional teams, there’ll be plenty of chances for people to strengthen skills they already have (but might not get a chance to always exercise) or develop new skills.

For a number of years we’ve instilled the view with our employees that their career is a ‘climbing frame and not a ladder’ and with people (especially millennials) more likely to have a portfolio career, this project-based approach will support people to grow in a way that’s useful for their career plans (whether that’s inside or outside RHP).

As well as these three key areas of focus, we’ll be keep doing all the basics that got us to Platinum in the first place, including providing plenty of ways for people to have their say, making sure people feel supported, valued and recognised and creating opportunities to have fun together along the way.

So, just as the way people go multi-platinum in the music industry has changed over the years with dwindling record shops and digital downloads, we need to evolve and keep doing things differently too if we’re going to become a multi-platinum employer.

David 

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