CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Colleague reward strategy boosts business at Bromford Group
Article Type: HR at work From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 11, Issue 2
Short case studies and research papers that demonstrate best practice in HR
Julie LeoBased at Bromford Group.
Colleague benefits and rewards are recognized as a fundamental part of many businesses, and are an opportunity for employers to engage with their colleagues and celebrate their successes. The importance of colleague benefits is recognized in different ways by different companies and the structure in which they are implemented has become a point of interest. This article investigates the way in which one organization, Bromford Group, has developed its own strategy towards colleague benefits and the various issues it has experienced.
Bromford Group is a leading provider of affordable homes and a specialist in supported housing. With a headcount of more than 1,100 colleagues across the UK, one of its key business objectives is to create a “great place to work” culture that in turn helps deliver the highest possible quality services. With a “can do” attitude, based on the principle that if you put the best into people, you will get the best out of them, Bromford is an award-winning UK employer that devotes considerable time and resources to colleague benefits.
Happy people=happy customers
The overall ethos at Bromford is “passionate about people” and this is felt throughout the entire organization. The message applies to customers, colleagues and external partners, as they all play a vital part in its success. Colleagues are the people who make a difference to the customer every day with their hard work and enthusiasm so the business aims to reward this wherever possible. Bromford Group has a real belief that there is a direct link between happy and motivated colleagues and customers receiving a great service.
When trying to develop a clear and successful strategy, there are several issues that need to be addressed. One of the main areas for Bromford, and a fundamental part of its reward strategy, is the consistency of the rewards. If colleague rewards are not consistent in rewarding the right behaviors and attitudes this will undoubtedly cause an organization a problem. Bromford Group firmly believes that if colleague rewards are correct, this will, in turn, encourage a consistently high work performance. By actively encouraging colleagues to do well, this positive message will remain strong throughout the business.
Working on trust
Bromford’s HR policies are developed and work on trust. They work on the basis that colleagues want to do great work, and the business wants to help them do it. The rewards strategy has been in place for a few years now but the recent challenges around the external economic environment prompted Bromford to carry out a review of all its terms and conditions to ensure we were getting maximum value for money and delivering value to colleagues.
The reward strategy recognizes the work that colleagues do, demonstrating the key values that they bring to the business. These values can be anything from team work and strong customer service skills to continuous improvement. By rewarding colleagues for their key successes, they fully understand what is expected of them and the types of actions/behavior that will receive recognition.
Performance management process
Key to Bromford’s rewards strategy is its performance management system. This is set up with two main areas and questions for colleagues:
What do I need to achieve in my role?
How do I achieve this?
The first area involves the targets that are outlined to colleagues in their specific job roles, for example, financial targets, workload targets and key objectives. The second area allows colleagues to identify not only how they can reach their targets, but also how they achieve these by living the values of the organization. For example, a sales person may hit their sales targets but if in the process they have handled situations within their team badly (such as being rude to customers or another colleague), then this would be highlighted and addressed through the performance management framework.
This innovative idea was established to ensure that results were not to the detriment of Bromford’s strong values of teamwork, customer focus and continuous improvement. We have rewards specifically linked to receiving an exceptional performance rating but also managers are able to give small rewards when they can see a colleague has gone the extra mile.
The “golden threads”
It is important that reward strategy supports business strategy. Bromford’s business strategy has the following four main strands:
Each of these strands represents key areas of the business, and the aim of the structure is to enable colleagues to see the areas into which their own personal targets fit. This therefore demonstrates the areas of the business that they are helping to develop. The strands are known as the “golden threads” because they aim to guide colleagues to the overall business objectives that their role directly supports.
Being open and adaptable
By finding ways to overcome the problems that can arise when developing a rewards system, Bromford has learnt the importance of listening to colleagues and how this can benefit a business. It has conducted several focus groups, colleague surveys and questionnaires asking what type of rewards colleagues would value. Bromford believes that by listening to its colleagues and ensuring that the rewards it offers are valued, it results in colleagues respecting their total reward package, which keeps them motivated and feeling valued.
An example of Bromford listening to the types of rewards that its colleagues want can be seen in its recent contract with healthcare specialist, Healix. Colleagues wanted private healthcare that was affordable, and Bromford established that a flexible program was needed. The organization saw that Healix Health Services has a different approach to colleague care, with one of the key advantages being the excellent nurse-led claims management.
By finding a scheme that could adapt to Bromford’s own benefit policy, the organization has been able to feel more confident about the type of care that colleagues receive. Not only does this provide a more positive working atmosphere, but individual colleagues can receive the care that is suitable for them, enabling them to return to work sooner. Bromford Group also believes that this personalized healthcare approach has enhanced its own beliefs that colleagues cannot be categorized and there should never be a one size fits all approach.
Keeping it relevant
Bromford Group feels that its overall business success can be attributed to the open relationship it has with its colleagues. They are able to feed in ideas on the way the organization can achieve its objective of being a great place to work. This is an area that has improved over the years, and now Bromford is in a position where it can provide a consistent range of rewards, working in partnership with colleagues and managers.
The advice that Bromford Group would give to any business is to align rewards to business strategy. It is essential to only reward the performance and behaviors your organization wants to see. It is also equally important to really listen to what rewards or benefits colleagues want and will value. If colleagues’ views are not taken into account then it will be a waste of both time and money.
About the author
Julie Leo is HR director at Bromford Group. After a short career in IT testing, in 1992 she moved into HR as an HR assistant with a small computer software house. She then joined a building society as regional personnel manager, before going to Bromford in 2001 as HR manager. She progressed to head of HR and then HR director in 2009. Leo is fully CIPD qualified and is also a qualified paralegal in employment law. She is a mentor through Housing Diversity Network and is a school governor at Oak Meadow Primary School in Wolverhampton. Julie Leo can be contacted at: email@example.com