Recent winners of Camden Housing Business Awards for outstanding contribution to the community, Origin Housing has 270 permanent and 60 bank staff, and manages over 5,500 homes across Hertfordshire and London. The organisation has been through significant change in the last few years, including several mergers, the most recent in 2014.
In 2010 Origin Housing achieved an 88% response rate and employee engagement stood at 64%. In 2014 the response rate increased to 98% and engagement increased by 18% to 82%. How was this achieved? Through changing the values and developing leadership, culture and pride.
“If there is a disjoint between values and behaviours, the values become meaningless and have a negative effect on engagement.”
It’s unusual for organisations to change their values, but Origin had found that the majority of its employees could only describe two. Values are personal. At Origin they are there to help to achieve the Origin vision. If people could not describe their values, then they would not be working to the same vision.
To develop values that truly resonated, Origin Housing involved employees in discussing and debating what Origin stands for. Once values were agreed, the executive team took a value each to sponsor, and the launch was developed with a big campaign and specific branding to encourage engagement and communication. Examples of how the values were being lived in the organisation were shared.
This work also provided an opportunity for Origin to look at how they operated, and they found that they were all really nice to each other. This was great, but it meant that powerful and challenging conversations that would benefit the teams and the organisation weren’t happening. Workshops were developed to help support these conversations, without detracting from the core of Origin being a really friendly place to work.
“It shouldn’t be assumed that managers know everything. Trust within and across teams breeds conversations to get results.”
Teamwork was also developed, to stress that trust within teams and across Origin helps to achieve the best results.
Now the new values are an integral part of how Origin Housing operates. People are introduced to them in the recruitment process. This is furthered through the initial induction with the CEO and through one-to-ones.
After a series of initiatives, 94% of employees understand Origin Housing’s new values. They’ve come a long way from people just being able to name two.
Taken from the Developing Values to Reflect Organisational Change paper delivered by Cathy McCarthy and Tara Healy of Origin Housing at our 2015 employee engagement conference.