How a Multi-Academy Trust strengthened employee voice and turned insights into action
Washwood Heath Multi-Academy Trust are a family of seven academies in East Birmingham committed to providing the best for their young people, families and communities.
Their values of ‘Respect, Collaboration and Aspiration’ are at the heart of everything they do to deliver on their mission. This commitment extends to their staff, whose skills and abilities are key to their success. At the core of their work is the belief that staff can be the best they can be when they have good health and wellbeing, are engaged, can develop their skills and have good leadership.
Washwood Heath Multi Academy Trust joined Stribe for a pilot project. They used to our pulse surveys and messaging features to strengthen employee voice within their large, multi-sited and dispersed workforce. They also incorporated Stribe’ shout-out feature into their recognition strategy with huge success.
We spoke with Michelle, Director of People, at Washwood Heath Multi-Academy Trust to hear about their first project with Stribe.
What’s the main purpose of Stribe within Washwood Heath MAT?
As part of our Trust-wide wellbeing strategy and to complement our annual staff wellbeing survey, we wanted to pilot Stribe so that we could:
- empower staff to have a regular but anonymous voice on key questions that affect day-to-day working life and our culture and climate.
- as a large multi-sited employer, engage as many staff in different roles, even those who aren’t ICT literate, so we could genuinely get their views on key questions.
- give staff a platform for recognising staff for their efforts; and
- give them a vehicle within which to report concerns anonymously to the People Team
How does Stribe contribute to the bigger picture at Washwood Heath MAT?
At the start of this project, a lead volunteered from each academy so they could be the point of contact and feed into the questions that we launched during the trial period.
Once a question had closed, the People Team provided a summary of the replies/feedback to pulse questions and often, this would lead to SLT making a decision on something which supported wellbeing e.g. confirming which day our wellbeing/shopping day was going to be held on. The People Team would then summarise the Trust-wide replies on sharepoint and explain what impact the replies was going to have, to support with engagement levels and trust in the system.
Is there a specific question/project that sticks in your mind?
We asked a question giving staff the option to state their preferred date this academic year for an additional discretionary day. We based our decision on the majority vote, which meant they gained a day to support their own wellbeing at the end of November, which is typically when we start to see more illness, signs of burnout etc.
How have you found working with the team at Stribe?
They were great – responsive, helpful and really took on our feedback about how to make the system more user friendly for multi-sited employers.
Why did you choose Stribe as your employee engagement partner?
I’d heard great things about tootoot for pupils and when I saw that there was a tool which could enable staff to raise feedback anonymously to the Trust, thought this would be worth testing to see what engagement levels were.
How did you convince stakeholders on the value of employee engagement and software like Stribe? Do you have any tips for people looking to do the same?
Just plenty of communications on our intranet to explain that we really valued their voice on key workplace issues and that we wanted to trial the product to enhance employee wellbeing and engagement. Also ensuring that we followed up after each question had closed to maintain trust in the process.
What made you look for a tool like Stribe in the first place? Could you describe exactly what was going on at the time?
One of the KPIs in our annual staff survey from 2019 had scored lower than previous years – this related to Trust perception and their ability to voice work-related concerns to the Trust. We considered that this would be a useful way of engaging staff at regular intervals and embedding a culture of listening and consultation. We know that if our staff are happy and feel heard, they are more likely to invest discretionary effort and have a more positive impact on school improvement.
Have you got any favourite stories where Stribe has really worked in your team?
The last pulse question that we asked was about our new professional growth appraisal process: On a 1 to 10 scale, with 1 being “Extremely unhelpful” to 10 being “Extremely helpful”, how productive did you find your last Professional Growth check-in with your appraiser? Why do you feel like that?
The responses were not as positive as we had hoped, we were embedding a new cultural change project at the time – replacing a traditional performance management process with a new innovative professional growth process. This feedback allowed us to work with SLT to further embed this project. The feedback from staff on how useful it had been that term for them flagged up some positives and negatives at some academies within the Trust. This allowed us to follow those up with SLT and ensure certain actions were put in place.
Have your employees enjoyed using Stribe? Do you have any feedback or examples?
My own team enjoyed using it but I can’t speak for the masses. That said, I did meet with all heads during the pilot to seek their feedback, they generally felt that the system had potential.
What do you think is the key to a happy team?
Clarity of purpose through strong strategic vision and leadership, empathetic and compassionate culture of listening, flexible working practices, autonomy over tasks and collaboration to get things done.
What would you say to someone who is on the fence about taking on Stribe?
Definitely give it a go! But build in enough time to get stakeholders on board first and agree how you will deal with the insights received to maintain trust in the process.