Employee Engagement Project of the Year (Private sector – 50-250 employees)
Developing team engagement and cohesion in a complex, sensitive and disparate working structure
This project, to improve engagement and enhance staff retention rates and implement a new management structure in a sector with notoriously high staff turnover, achieved transformational results on a very tight budget.
About Clarendon Home Care Ltd
Clarendon Home Care (CHC) is the leading home care service provider in Surrey and the South East and offers a comprehensive range of home care services. Its work helps anyone whose continuing independence at home requires additional support and includes personal services such as help with getting up and going to bed and assistance with prescribed medication and practical services such as meal preparation and light housework.
The company has a small office-based management team of 15 people and a team of just over 100 Home Care Assistants (HCAs) who are based remotely and work alone to deliver the company’s services.
CHC’s services are delivered in an extremely complex environment with a wide range of stakeholders, each with different and often competing requirements. It needs to supply its services to the local authority in the most cost-effective way possible while at the same time meeting stringent legislative requirements and providing a high quality of care that respects the people and their families whom they serve. Despite these people-centred requirements, as a commercial enterprise the business still needs to make a profit.
The organisation therefore needs to have a culture that is both business-focused and respects the need to make profit but also people-focused and respects the sensitive and personal service they provide.
Clarendon Project lead: David Vincent, General Manager
About Charlton HR
Charlton HR helps SMEs to manage their HR and organisational development needs. Its experts help businesses to assess their current position and then work to ensure that the resulting needs are met. These range from meeting basic legal minimum employment responsibilities through to developing effective ways of working with staff.
Charlton HR Project lead: Chris Hickey MBA, BEd, Chartered MCIPD, Director
The brief and objectives
The senior management team at CHC felt that the chain of command throughout the organisation was not clear. The result was a management team in crisis with little structure, trust or engagement. This was affecting all areas of the business, particularly staff morale and consequent retention rates amongst HCAs.
Charlton HR was engaged in September 2013 to:
- develop and implement a clear chain of command within the organisation
- improve trust and engagement within management team
- enhance staff satisfaction levels and improve retention rates amongst HCAs.
In-depth research carried out by Charlton HR prior to putting a strategy in place confirmed and expanded upon CHC’s initial assessment.
Collective and one-to-one interviews with the senior management team demonstrated that the team was in conflict, with poorly defined roles that allowed important decisions to be taken in isolation and grievances to be taken to the board without first attempting to resolve them within the team.
The views of the HCAs were sought via a formal survey which was issued to all and one-to-one interviews which were conducted with a representative sample to provide anecdotal insight.
This work showed that HCAs derived great satisfaction from the emotional factors of their role such as a sense of achievement and the value and importance of the work they were doing. However:
- levels of trust in managers and the company were very low
- the management structure was very stretched, with one person nominally responsible for all HCAs, which had led to a sense of isolation and lack of support amongst HCAs
- poor communication was an issue and had led to critical service failures that put the needs of vulnerable adults at risk.
Consequently, staff retention was extremely low (in 2012-13, 41% of staff left before completing 6 months service and a further 12% left before completing one year’s service), making it difficult to establish effective operational systems.
The strategy needed to focus on implementing a new organisational structure, methods of working and cultures in order to bring about the changes required. This would involve:
- working with directors to clarify their role and create clear chains of command within the organisation
- working with senior managers on personal development plans to clarify their roles and bring a greater sense of accountability
- working with the management team on process and people management to improve working cultures
- developing a business plan that would include sections on reshaping operations, HR, training and services to deliver better efficiency and engagement levels.
Charlton HR work with the management team addressed the issues by:
- conducting training that encouraged team members to take responsibility and ownership of change
- implementing a new management structure that gave a clear chain of command, enabling issues to be escalated efficiently and giving everyone a clearly defined role in the structure
- introducing a management charter, role and responsibilities document and company values document that reinforced a clear ethos that reflected CHC’s core mission to help people while still making a profit.
The changes implemented to address the issues amongst HCAs included:
- refocusing the recruitment policy and process to stress the value of the work involved rather than its flexibility, as had been the case in the past, in order to attract staff with the right mindset
- introducing seven new roles of Senior HCA to manage small teams of 15 HCAs and give HCAs clear and efficient access to a line manager; the move also gave HCAs a clearer sense of career progression
- creating new co-ordinator and planner roles within the management team to ensure that workloads were appropriately managed
- implementing regular team meetings to encourage team cohesion, share feedback and demonstrate that the management team valued the work of HCAs.
As a result of the changes implemented there is a much greater sense of responsibility and clearer lines of communication within the management team. Board meetings now focus on strategic matters while senior managers meet fortnightly to review operations, discuss what progress has been made towards existing targets and set new goals if needed.
Staff surveys were conducted in September 2013 as part of the process of identifying the strategy and in June 2014 to mark the conclusion of the project. Results showed that:
- trust in line managers went from 62% to 78%
- trust in the company was up from 46% to 75%
- intention to leave went down from 58% to 32%
- motivation levels were up from 73% to 86%
- feelings of loyalty to the company were up from 76% to 98%
- feelings of pride in the company were up from 68% to 92%
- belief that staff are fairly paid in comparison with other similar companies rose from 42% to 84%.
Staff retention rates also improved dramatically. In a sector that is notorious for high levels of staff turnover, CHC’s rates had been notably high. In the six months to June 2014, after the changes had been implemented, just 3.7% of staff left, a level far lower than would normally be expected in the sector.
Relation to set objectives
David Vincent General Manager at CHC said, “Chris’s clear and logical thinking was invaluable throughout this process, as was his practical, helpful approach. As a result of Charlton Associates’ work we have clearer lines of communication and are better at listening to and engaging with staff. We have a clear structure in place and retention levels are considerably higher.”
One of the biggest difficulties faced by CHC is the disparate nature of their staff base; the overwhelming majority work alone, at unsociable hours and with limited hands-on supervision by line managers, a working environment in which it is difficult to foster a sense of team engagement. It also posed difficulties when needing to engage with them as part of this work. The solution was in harnessing the power of the internet, in particular by using online survey software such as Survey Monkey and social media applications such as Facebook to gather feedback and engage staff.
Also of note is the low budget, despite which astonishing results were achieved.
 Presentation to Clarendon Home Care by Charlton HR on 3 September 2013 (Clarendon Home Care Presentation.pptx)
 See Appendix 2 of Clarendon Home Care Staff Survey Results 2013 & 2014 (CHC Comparison 2013-14 Full.docx)
 Meeting minutes from a Clarendon Home Care Management Development Session held on 12 December 2013 (management dev session 12th December.docx)
- Clarendon Home Care company values (CHC Company Values.docx)
- Clarendon Home Care management charter (CHC Management Charter.docx)
- Clarendon Home Care roles and responsibilities (CHC Roles & Responsibilities.docx)
 See: Clarendon Home Care Staff Survey Results 2013 & 2014 briefing document as circulated to Clarendon Home Care staff (Briefing on the Staff Survey June 2014.docx)
Don't take our word for it...
Qualitative Research findings
Hazel Lonsdale, Chief Executive, Third Sector Services
Sonia Hutchison, Chief Executive - Carers Centre Bath & NE Somerset