The Housing Ombudsman Service is set up by law to look at complaints about the housing organisations that are registered in the UK. It is a free, independent and impartial service that resolves disputes involving the tenants and leaseholders of social landlords (housing association and local authorities) and voluntary members (private landlords and letting agents who are committed to good service for their tenants).
Paul Neville, Head of People and Development at HOS explains, “We knew the only way to secure sustainable organisational performance improvement was through our people, and to be successful we would need to look at all our people management practices in a joined up and inter-related way, but how? The CIPD’s People and Performance Model appeared to be a good framework to help us focus in on unlocking people potential or “talent”, so we approached the CIPD to help us understand this more”.
CIPD engaged the services of Primeast to explore a number of strategic options based on the framework with a focus group comprising senior managers, line managers, employees and trades union representatives.
Paul Neville continues, “Sharing thinking with employees early on about possible future changes to people management practices was crucial to successfully introducing the new approaches. Primeast’s Clive Wilson shared talent management insights and his excellent facilitation skills helped to ensure an inquisitive and inclusive approach was taken, with options being explored in an entirely engaging and constructively challenging way’.
Following early discussions with the client's senior team, Primeast were commissioned to implement a programme with the aim of establishing a performance culture that valued the individual. Integral to this was introducing the philosophy of playing to strengths.
The implementation methodology included the following key steps:
- affirmation of the strategic direction of the organisation
- the establishment of a philosophy on playing to strengths stated and signed by Mike Biles, the Housing Ombudsman
- examination of the effect implementation of this philosophy would have on the processes of the organisation
- engagement of all staff to understand the new way of working and what this would mean to each of them
- leadership workshops and coaching to enable managers to play to their strengths and encourage the same from their people (these workshops were action orientated)
According to Helen Megarry, Director of Casework at HOS, “The combined impact of playing to strengths and a new DR process on performance has been significant. We operate on a gross budget of around £3.7m (in 09/10) and since adopting this strategy, we have seen an overall uplift on performance in excess of 50%. In other words the value added to landlords and tenants has risen by about £1.85m. Although this is only one of the efficiency activities in which we have been involved, this does represent a significant return on investment for the programme.”
Specifically the key performance indicators over a three year period relating to casework are as follows:
- New complaints received and processed increased by 51% (3206 to 4837)
- No of cases investigated increased by 62% (283 to 458)
- Average length of time taken to investigate cases reduced from 30 weeks to 21 weeks in same period
“I am delighted with how a simple shift in our philosophy has improved our performance. Employee engagement is much higher than before, stakeholder feedback has been excellent, and the major consequences have been enhancement of our reputation in the sector and a strengthening of confidence in the Service evidenced, in particular, by the Secretary of State extending our statutory remit. This is good news for the social housing sector.”