At Phoenix, we have a bold ambition: to always strive to make our business the best place our colleagues have ever worked. To achieve this, we’ve placed colleague engagement firmly at the heart of our people strategy.

We know that engagement starts with the “why”: people want to work for an organisation they believe in. So we launched our Phoenix Story, a corporate narrative co-created by colleagues, based around the refreshed purpose of “helping people to secure a life of possibilities”.

Colleagues tell us this statement genuinely inspires them – with people and social purpose at its heart, it “feels worth getting out of bed for”.

Engagement Challenges with Covid19

The Covid 19 pandemic brought new challenges for engagement – with the vast majority of our colleagues moving to home working in 2020, we had to find new ways to connect. Our IT teams worked tirelessly to provide the kit and support required to minimise disruption to customers and colleagues.

With many colleagues juggling work and home-schooling, we eased the pressure by introducing additional, paid parental leave and financial support to buy IT kit for school work.

We quickly moved our face-to-face engagement events online, using technology to host a popular programme of sessions – from informal leader Q&As, to large-scale town halls and a leadership conference focused on “leading with purpose”. Our vibrant colleague networks got on board too: celebrating diversity with guest speakers such as Dr Kamel Hothi OBE and Nigel Owens, and developing creative virtual events like Behind the Mask, a safe space for colleagues to share their mental health journeys.

Our Values

Our values are embedded in everything we do, and one of these is Growth – a concept we didn’t want to lose during lockdown. We launched the “Flourish at Phoenix” virtual learning academy to support colleagues from their first days with us (the “Join and Thrive” induction programme) through to developing their career (“Learn and Thrive”) and building leadership skills (“Lead and Thrive”). Colleagues can also take part in our mentoring scheme via video calls.

As we adjusted to new ways of working, colleagues told us they were missing the social interaction of the office. So we created the EventFull programme to bring the fun to them! Colleagues have taken part in a wealth of activities from the comfort of their own homes, including food and drink tastings, virtual escape rooms, “lunch with” inspirational speakers, comedy nights, and even family fun such as children’s discos and magic shows. These events always generate strong take-up and positive feedback.

Health and Wellbeing are Key

We recognise that health and wellbeing are key to engagement, and we’ve continued to evolve our wellbeing proposition– for example, offering online nutrition and fitness sessions. A Group-wide walking challenge encouraged people to take a screen break and get active, while local initiatives include meeting-free “golden hours” and team charity challenges. Colleagues also have access to the Headspace mindfulness app, and mental health support including trained mental health first aiders.

Another way to boost wellbeing is through giving back, something that has long been part of the Phoenix culture. We see strong engagement with our corporate charity activity, as well as community fundraising and volunteering initiatives: colleagues regularly tell us they feel proud to work for a business that cares about doing the right thing.

How do we know we’re getting engagement right? We keep listening! Our short monthly engagement survey invites colleagues to share how they’re feeling on a range of topics: questions vary, and have explored areas such as leadership and values and work-life balance. All responses are anonymous, but managers can respond to comments directly via their own dashboard. This leads to an open and transparent dialogue, where everyone is empowered to take action and make a difference.

Continuing Listening Approach

This continuous listening approach is central to our engagement strategy: making sure everyone has their voice heard, and driving a culture of continuous improvement. It’s about ensuring our colleagues have what they need to be at their best, which in turn helps us retain talent and deliver great experiences for our customers. Colleagues welcome the ability to share feedback on an ongoing basis, while maintaining their anonymity. Leaders tell us the real-time visibility and insights they receive are invaluable, and results are regularly and openly discussed at our virtual events.

As our business grows, it’s important to us that all colleagues are treated fairly and have an equal say in issues that affect them. We had a number of colleague representative groups across our legacy businesses – these have been replaced by a single independent body, the Phoenix Colleague Representation Forum (PCRF). This means all our UK colleagues have a consistent way to provide feedback and challenge, plus access advice and support for any work-related issues.

So – is Phoenix the best place to work? We’re not complacent, and we know there’s always more to do. But we’ll keep listening to our colleagues as we build an inclusive workplace where everyone can thrive, learn, challenge themselves and have fun. Looking ahead, we’re moving towards a hybrid model, empowering colleagues to find a balance of office and home working that works for their role, personal preference and circumstances. Because securing a life of possibilities starts with our people.

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