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Helena Partnerships explains what makes its people strategy ‘so innovative’

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Helena Partnerships explains what makes its people strategy ‘so innovative’

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities

Helena Partnerships explains what makes its people strategy so innovative Helena Partnerships explains what makes its people strategy so innovative

By Liz Haworth, executive director of business transformation, Helena Partnerships

In June this year, Helena Partnerships was recognised as having the most innovative people strategy in the first ever Investor in People awards. So, what makes our strategy innovative? And how does this help us delivery business transformation?

Most organisations like to think of themselves as ‘investors in people’ – but how does this investment go beyond the usual training courses and generous total reward packages to create something that feels like real investment – creating a true partnership between the people in our business and our customers?

When we developed the Helena Partnerships brand we didn’t simply pay a bunch of trendy designers to create a new logo. We thought carefully about how our brand would play out in real life – in the everyday interactions between employees, our customers and our wider stakeholders. What would doing business with Helena feel like? How do Helena people behave when no-one is watching? (Then we hired the trendy designers!)

More recently, through discussions with employees, customers and partners we’ve developed a new set of core behaviours which reflect our ambition to be a more business-like organisation, one that safeguards our assets, takes advantage of commercial opportunities and is willing to say “no” if it makes business sense to do so.

Empowerment is an overused word in our sector, but we wanted all our people to see themselves as business leaders, to be people focused and dynamic but also to do the right thing rather than follow process and policy blindly. We asked our people one question – what would you do if Helena was your company?

Our people seized the concept of being a business leader, and were keen to play their part in creating a business resilient to the impact of welfare reform and more commercial in its approach to growth opportunities.

In November 2013 we ran a series of events designed to give our employees a good listening to. Senior leaders attended every session and listened carefully to the feedback. What was clear was that our people were eager to get involved and had loads of ideas about how we could improve. From these events we developed Sweet 16, a series of projects which reflected the concerns and ideas of our teams. The projects included digital inclusion, how we let our homes, reducing demand for the repairs service, and creating a new deal for customers which balanced tenants’ responsibilities with our service offer.

Launched on Yammer, our internal social network, Sweet 16 provided a vehicle for people from across our business working alongside our customers to solve these business problems themselves. The results were truly innovative. Employees went out with our maintenance teams to video our customers’ views on the repairs service. Colleagues brought their children to work and modelled as happy families to promote our homes to new markets. Games of Family Fortunes were devised to consult customers on their views on tenant responsibilities. The concept of digital buddies put our more digitally savvy team members alongside those who were more fearful of new technology.

One of the recommendations was to develop common performance targets across all customer facing teams which reflected our priorities. These were introduced in April 2014, measuring every team member’s contribution to rent arrears, empty properties, the cost of responsive repairs and customers using digital services. Feedback told us that teams wanted more regular and accessible updates on how we were performing, so our business analysts developed an infographic which is published monthly.

And the results have been testimony to the fact that true investment in people can drive transformation and deliver real business benefits.

Here are some of the highlights:

• Empty properties reduced from 289 at their peak in 2013 to 122 in July 2014.
• Face to face contact reduced by 28% through channel shift.
• 43% reduction in tenants requesting a transfer to another Helena home.
• 15 day reduction in ASB case handling.
• £88,000 in rent arrears collected by our frontline teams since launching our Every Contact Counts approach.
• 95% of calls handled right first time through the roll out of CRM across all teams.

For more information about Helena’s approach to innovation, people and engagement check us out on Twitter @helenapartnersh or log onto our new look website www.helenahomes.co.uk, which goes live today.

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