How Great Places engaged the voices of their hardest to reach employees
Great Places is a housing association which currently manages more than 25,000 homes across the United Kingdom in the North.Read More
Bolton Council employs around 4,000 people across their diverse and dispersed workforce. They are rated one of the best local government employers in the UK, with staff satisfaction measuring around 18% higher than the national average.
Bolton Council have been working with Stribe for a number of years to enhance the way they reach and engage with their highly dispersed teams. They use Stribe to enhance the collaborative approach they take to employee communication and engagement; using Stribe’s surveys to create workplace changes based on employee feedback, and shout-outs to highlight and showcase the great work of employees across their dispersed teams.
We spoke with Duncan, their Communications and Engagement Manager, to learn more about how they use Stribe to achieve their employee engagement objectives.
We introduced Stribe because we realised we had a gap in our internal communications. We were sending messages out to staff but they found it difficult to give us feedback and for us to be able to act on that feedback in a meaningful way.
For example, we send ‘All Staff’ newsletters to circulate news, events, and information for our colleagues each week. Staff could respond to these and share their feedback, but it wasn’t easy for us to understand how a whole team or group of employees felt. This made it difficult to act on the feedback that was shared.
We also have really large and dispersed teams at Bolton Council, so it can be difficult to see (and keep up with!) all the good work that’s going on across the organisation. With Stribe we have the ability to do things instantly, we don’t need to wait a week to put a congratulations in Staff News because we can send shout-outs and announcements as they happen. They’re also peer-to-peer, which gives everyone at Bolton the opportunity to celebrate good work. We really like that you can target the recognitions too, so you can make it specific to the people you’re celebrating – making the shout-out feel really meaningful.
The other feature of Stribe that’s really important to us is that it gives staff a really accessible way to message us directly if they need to. The messaging feature is also anonymous which I think is really important. It gives staff the ability and confidence to ask a question about anything, it could be about a policy or the direction of the council, but it means those questions don’t go unanswered.
The reason why we identified Stribe as the tool to fill the gap in our internal communications was that it truly facilitates the two-way communication that is crucial to our organisation’s success. It gave us the additional functionality that enabled people to communicate with us and the ability to glean insights from their feedback so we could create change from their feedback. Stribe really provides us with so much extra functionality that we didn’t have before.
The messaging feature is anonymous which I think is really important. It gives staff the ability and confidence to ask a question about anything, it could be about a policy or the direction of the council, but it means those questions don’t go unanswered.Duncan Keary, Communications and Engagement Manager
In terms of the bigger picture, one of our most important values is that we are a listening organisation. Stribe enhances that by giving us several ways to listen to staff, take that feedback, and build policies from the feedback that’s shared.
We like that Stribe is flexible enough that if we identify an area that we know would be valuable to shape using staff feedback, we can do that with Stribe. We can put out a pulse survey and employees can respond to that quickly.
For example, we’ve recently been looking at wellbeing and what staff feel they need. We created a wellbeing survey, sent it to staff, and received the insights right away. We felt it was a really quick process. We were able to quickly launch the survey, analyse the data and communicate the results back to our employees, and that was all down to the functionality of Stribe. It was great to be able to show staff that we truly listened, and be able to demonstrate the change we created based on their feedback from Stribe’s survey. It really helps us reflect the listening ethos we have at Bolton Council.
We also recently ran a survey focused on our new cafe for staff, Albert Halls. We wanted to make sure that the cafe really worked for staff and was a space that they could socialise and use for business functions if they wished. We used Stribe to put out a survey to ask staff what they wanted from it, what hours the cafe should be open, what they would use it for, and what it needed to do. The feedback we got was great! Staff let us know that they wanted the ability to conduct meetings, and even hire out the whole space for events. All of that feedback was built into the proposal for opening the cafe. I remember my colleague saying that there was no other way we would’ve been able to capture that information without using Stribe – the platform really does it all for you.
I remember my colleague saying that there was no other way we would’ve been able to capture that information without using Stribe - the platform really does it all for you.Duncan Keary, Communications and Engagement Manager
There’s a really big push for us around staff engagement at the moment. Every council has a big challenge in recruiting and retaining staff. One of the main things we’re doing to enhance staff recognition is looking at our rewards package. We have a range of staff benefits in place such as Cycle to Work, Loan Scheme, and Parking. But we’re currently working to understand what more we can do for staff and what types of benefits they’ll engage with.
We’re using Stribe to understand what’s important to staff, what staff prioritise in those areas, and what benefits we can introduce that would really enhance their wellbeing and engagement. For us it’s all about creating an atmosphere and environment that staff want to stay within. We want to keep the best staff, so it’s a big focus for our internal policies at the moment.
My colleague who leads on the surveys, Rebecca, is really keen that whatever feedback we get from Stribe, we listen to, and also communicate the outcome to employees. Otherwise it’s just people responding to a survey and never hearing back which can lead to lower response rates and folk becoming cynical about participating in future surveys.
We did a survey recently asking people about volunteering their outside time to work on Bolton Council events and be financially compensated for it. We put out a survey so we could gauge interest from staff in the idea before creating the scheme. Enough people came back saying they would be interested that we created a full scheme and fed that back to colleagues as part of a ‘You Said, We Did’.
We run a lot of large events such as the Bolton Food and Drink Festival and this scheme means we have been able to staff the whole event using Bolton Council colleagues. It’s been great to be able to use Stribe to validate an idea and then see that idea come to life.
Ultimately, for me, it’s about how quick Stribe is. We are always mindful about bombarding people, but we like how quickly we can move with Stribe. We can put out a survey and by the end of the week we have results without a huge amount of effort because the functionality of Stribe is set up to deliver that.
Ultimately, for me, it’s about how quick Stribe is. We can put out a survey and by the end of the week we have results without a huge amount of effort because the functionality of Stribe is set up to deliver that.Duncan Keary, Communications and Engagement Manager
We’ve got a really great base in terms of the number of people using Stribe. Now we want to encourage the people who haven’t tried it, and also help everyone understand what they can use Stribe for. We also want to get more people internally trained up on Stribe so that we can take our usage to the next level. We’ve also got an internal target that we want to build upon, we’re looking on track to hit that in the next year, but we want to keep pushing for more engagement.
From that start we felt that we had a great connection and relationship with the Stribe team. For example, if we have a query we know that we can contact you and you’ll answer within the hour – we’re not waiting days for a response. We also really like that it’s not an anonymous person, we know who we’re talking to and that we have a relationship with you.
We were very clear on what we wanted from our second year with Stribe, and that we wanted to build on the progress we had made since launching. We’ve liked that you’ve taken the time to really understand our goals and objectives and worked with us to develop an action plan tailored to us, this was invaluable for us, and we can already see it’s had a great impact on our engagement numbers.
The action plan also gave confidence to our HR team – they could see that we had a strategy in place for Stribe that would help us build further.
We knew we had a challenge within our internal comms. We also have a workforce that are split across multiple sites and don’t have regular access to their emails. We also have trouble getting feedback and contacting a lot of those people. Post-covid we have changed the way we’re working and now take a hybrid approach. We don’t have everyone in the office all the time which makes it very difficult to connect with everyone – at least 50% of our workforce working from home at any one time. Stribe gives us the ability to connect with everyone, including homeworkers, quite easily.
It’s also an incredibly straightforward system. We didn’t want a system in place that only a few people could use, it had to cater for people who had a range of abilities with technology. We wanted everyone at Bolton to feel confident picking up Stribe to send a shout-out, or answer a survey.
You can also use Stribe on your mobile phone, a lot of people at the council don’t sit at their desks all day and it’s great that everyone can access from their phone. Stribe gives us the ability to reach anyone across all platforms.
We don’t have everyone in the office all the time which makes it very difficult to connect with everyone - at least 50% of our workforce working from home at any one time. Stribe gives us the ability to connect with everyone, including homeworkers, quite easily.Duncan Keary, Communications and Engagement Manager
I would say you need to ask a simple question: ‘How do you currently engage with your staff and how can you improve that process?’. Most organisations these days are stuck relying on emails. This means your communications are very one-way with no interaction from staff. Without the ability to send surveys, get feedback, and encourage two-way communication, you’re missing a trick.
This also goes back to my earlier point about improving staff engagement and how you support your most valuable talent… the best way to do that is with a really engaged and empowered workforce.
You need to ask yourself honestly if you believe you are connecting and engaging with staff in the best way at the moment. If you aren’t, what do you need to do? You need to get a platform like Stribe that gives you that ability.
For us the shout-out function has worked really well. The simplicity of the surveys has also been a hit with employees, in just three or four clicks the survey has been answered and they can share their feedback. Stribe is just so simple to use which I know everyone likes.
Stribe also has a really fun look and feel to it. The branding is quite different to Bolton Council’s which works really well to catch our employees’ attention and make it really stand out from our usual communications. We have posters and leaflets around the office reminding people about how to use Stribe and they look great. The look and feel is just really funky, we really like the fun playful illustrations and it’s identity!
For me it’s a team that can talk to each other, that’s the basis. I couldn’t work in a team where no-one engaged with each other.
Now we’re virtual it’s even more important we have check in’s and the channels to help us talk and connect with each other. That’s why we like Stribe so much, the features such as shout-outs give you the opportunity to build that connection with your team. Being able to build that connection, for me, is really key to creating a happy team. And a happy team is a team that is productive as well.
You need to ask yourself honestly if you believe you are connecting and engaging with staff in the best way at the moment. If you aren’t, what do you need to do? You need to get a platform like Stribe that gives you that ability.Duncan Keary, Communications and Engagement Manager
Give it a go! You will see that difference. How would you do this without a channel like Stribe? How do you easily connect with people? How do you easily send those surveys out?
I don’t see a way that you could. There might be a time consuming way, but this is all rolled into one platform, a couple of clicks and off you go. You’ll not regret it.
Great Places is a housing association which currently manages more than 25,000 homes across the United Kingdom in the North.Read More