Evidence Case Study: Birmingham City Council
The following case study was provided as part of the evidence for the effectiveness of employee engagement strategies in improving performance, productivity and, in the private sector profitability. It has been used cumulatively with other submissions compiled by many leading companies and organisations to leave little room for doubt about the statistical importance of engaging employees.
This particular case study is an additional support to The Evidence Paper
Birmingham City Council (BCC) is the largest local authority in Europe with 58,000 employees and professionals, ranging from refuse collectors to lawyers. In 2006, BCC was underperforming. A staff survey revealed that only one in five of the Council’s staff felt that the council had a clear vision, while job satisfaction and motivation ratings had also fallen sharply. Successive change programmes had led to initiative fatigue among many employees and many felt demoralised.
The Chief Executive commissioned the design and delivery of an engagement programme over three years. The programme implemented a shift in behaviour across the whole organisation towards taking responsibility, making constant improvements and inspiring each other. The BEST approach spoke directly to the needs and motivations of the workforce, asking them to work together to make their day to day lives easier. The organisation’s core values: Belief, Excellence, Success and Trust (or BEST) were used as a basis for the programme and measurement of success. Work teams explored the council’s values and scored themselves against them, before generating actions they could take to improve these scores. These BEST workshops were led by a team member nominated by their colleagues. Indeed employees were involved in all aspects of the programme, from identifying the values to facilitating the BEST workshops and following up on actions agreed.
To date the BEST programme has directly touched 28,000 BCC employees through facilitated team workshops. The workshops consistently encouraged teams to think in new ways, providing opportunities for leadership outside of the usual structures. The actions generated improved team performance and the performance of the organisation as a whole. The language and framework of BEST has become embedded in the council’s way of working.
The BEST programme has created estimated productivity gains of at least £6 million. In addition, evaluation of the programme tells us that over 70% of team managers report a positive impact on their team and over 80% of BEST Leaders report a positive impact on them personally. A survey of more than 300 employees from teams that had participated found that 90 per cent felt proud to work for the council, and 83 per cent felt motivated in their jobs (up from 56 per cent in the 2006 survey). The impact is visible externally, with an increase of 10% in residents agreeing that the council is well run. BEST workshops have generated more than 6,000 innovations and service improvements, including the recovery of £334,000 in overpaid housing benefits. The BEST programme has already won five major awards including Employee Engagement Strategy of the Year.
“The very fact that we have a corporate initiative that has touched every part of the council in a consistent way is in itself a significant achievement that puts it on a different level from other things that have happened in the past”. Stephen Hughes, Chief Executive, Birmingham City Council.