Suzanne Sallam: “Croftstone’s Commitment to Its People and Its Culture Goes Beyond Just Words”
Croftstone, a new Consultancy serving the Rail & Infrastructure sector, earned the Best Employee Centric Strategy award for developing a market leading people strategy to attract and retain talent in a highly competitive market. Aiming to increase the satisfaction and engagement of its 100% remote team, Croftstone redefined its people vision.
In an interview with EBM, the company’s Head of People Strategy and Communications Suzanne Sallam discussed the award and Croftstone’s success.
YOU EARNED THE BEST EMPLOYEE CENTRIC STRATEGY AWARD FOR DEVELOPING A MARKET-LEADING PEOPLE STRATEGY. WHAT DID THIS STRATEGY ENTAIL?
Croftstone is a relatively new Consultancy serving the Rail & Infrastructure sector. The company was set up in 2019 and rapidly grew from 3 to 60 people during an exceptionally challenging period. To date we have been working 100% remotely. Between 2020 and 2021, we faced some significant people challenges. Attrition was 12%, employee satisfaction was only 60% and client complaints were high. We were struggling to sustainably compete and grow in a highly competitive market, facing a shortage of talent.
Not only were we competing against the size, reputation and packages offered by competitors, but we were also facing negative consequences on team cohesion because of the remote set-up of the company. The root cause of this was that our operating model and supporting infrastructure lacked robustness which led to inconsistencies in how we managed people, and how we listened and responded to feedback.
After a thorough review of all elements of our business and people strategy, we decided to address the challenges by repositioning ourselves as a challenger brand and focused our attention on developing a highly competitive people strategy that could allow us to attract and retain the right talent.
In the space of 8 months, we totally transformed the business:
- We defined a new people vision that outlined our commitment to employees, and that showed how we would deliver our people strategy through our people.
- We designed a communication infrastructure that ensured employees felt informed and supported. This also helped us embed our values.
- We introduced a new operating model and a new grading structure which introduced a career pathway for employees and enabled people to visualise their potential career with Croftstone.
- We launched an end-to-end cloud-based HR platform that simplified our ways of working.
- We also launched several forward-thinking interventions that enhanced the employee experience and embedded the culture we aspired to. These include:
- Becoming an active partner to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Charter and embedding a learning programme that ensured our EDI strategy became part of our DNA.
- A fairer and more effective performance management that focuses on employee career progression with no end-of-year forced distribution.
- An employee value proposition that shares the entire ‘deal’ offered by Croftstone – from exciting projects to volunteering days to chartership support.
- New line management training programme offering a blended learning experience – with virtual classrooms and an online gamified platform that embeds the learning.
- HR policies that commit to inclusivity such as Endometriosis workplace adjustments, and a 4-week Parental Leave.
- Making a Menopause Workplace Pledge and rolling out resources and workshops to support women in the workplace.
- We appointed:
- An inclusivity ambassador who identifies as neurodiverse and is helping us readjust our end-to-end recruitment journey and our communication channels.
- 5 mental health ambassadors who are breaking the stigma in a heavily male-dominated sector riddled with old-fashioned ideas.
- A female health ambassador who is educating and creating a platform for women to feel comfortable to raise their voices and ask for help (in topics such as Endometriosis).
EXPANDING ON THE PREVIOUS QUESTION, WHAT HAS ITS IMPACT BEEN?
Since launching our people strategy in Jan 2022, we set-up regular checkpoints to understand employee satisfaction, experimenting with ideas and quickly adjusting initiatives where needed. The rapid increase of our team numbers meant we had to get this right while being authentic with people about the journey we are on. We also launched a structured NPS survey to enable more robust measurement and tracking. The results speak for themselves:
In Nov 2021, attrition was 12%, employee satisfaction was only 60%
By June 2022, attrition fell to 5% and feedback results:
- NPS – 80 points
- 95% satisfaction rate
- 96% are proud to be working for Croftstone
- 90% are happy with leadership support, recognition and level of communication
- 90% feel they belong and are valued
- 90% feel they can succeed in Croftstone
- 90% feel the culture is positive and can see that it helps them produce good results
This level of employee focus is unique in our sector. We have since attracted a more diverse talent mix with 40% of the workforce identifying as female, and 30% representing minority ethnic backgrounds – outstanding figures compared to competitors in the industry.
WHAT LESSONS DID YOU LEARN DURING THE DEVELOPMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF YOUR STRATEGY? WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER ORGANISATIONS?
We were determined to learn from our experiences working or other organisations and put in place certain mitigations to avoid the mistakes we had previously witnessed and been subjected to.
Here are our top 5 tips:
- Key to our success has been headhunting an experienced Head of People Strategy who was an expert Culture change consultant. They were empowered with support and investment, as well as the freedom, to do what was necessary to fix the issues and transform the organisation.
- Our newly appointed Head of People Strategy held a seat at the board level which ensured the people strategy remained top of the board agenda, with equal attention to the business strategy.
- We were determined not to overburden our process with arbitrary governance, which allowed us to test and experiment with interventions, and fail forward at speed.
- We wanted to ensure our people strategy was the best in the industry while ensuring it reflected what was important to our people in Croftstone. Along with competitor analysis, we ensured our people remained at the heart of everything we designed by involving them in the design, testing, iteration and launch so that they felt they owned the initiatives.
- The rapid transformation we were on, meant we needed everyone in the organisation to embrace the change and adopt the new ways of working. Critical to this was leadership buy in and role modelling. The difficulty was that many of our current leaders were previously day rate contractors who had the technical expertise needed to serve our clients, however, lacked the operational leadership and line management capability needed to deliver a consistent experience for our people. So, we invested heavily in coaching our leaders, and rolled out a 16-week training programme focused on building their capability as people leaders and changing their mindset to better serve their teams.
WHY DID YOU ENTER THE 2022 ENGAGE AWARDS?
Our company vision is to see a world where our communities are better connected, where opportunities are more accessible, and potential is more easily reached. It is why we are on a mission to make major infrastructure programmes safer and more efficient so they can effectively connect the communities they serve. Our people are the powerhouse that can help us achieve this, which is why we are committed to nurturing our people and creating an environment where everyone can thrive.
We entered the award to show our people and potential candidates the quality of our people investment and how Croftstone’s commitment to its people and its culture goes beyond just words. It recognises the hard work put in by our People Strategy department as well as the level of personal commitment and investment made by all our leaders in developing their skills, supporting their teams and leading our business sustainably.
Engage Business Media would like to congratulate Croftstone on their win. Those interested in sharing their success stories and entering the 2023 Engage Awards/Engage B2B Awards, can now submit their entries here.
The deadline for submissions is July 17th, with judging set to commence on July 24th.