Delivering effective services, enterprising solutions and exemplary homes and communities.


Swan Group: #thebestplacetowork

Posted 25/04/18

Welcome, to the first of a new series of "blogs" which I am writing.  Blogging is a new medium for me, but one which I am keen to embrace! 

I have decided that the focus of my first blog should be our people, that's our fantastic "Swan Team" and to reflect on how, as an employer, we can ensure that the best people continue to want to work with us, so we can deliver brilliant services for our residents.

I recently wrote an opinion piece for the New London Quarterly, where I reflected that, having worked in housing for 50 years, some things really hadn't changed - including the need for more, high quality homes of all tenures to meet housing need.  However, I am delighted to say one of the things that has very much changed in those 50 years, is the focus on how organisations should strive to be a "great place to work" to ensure that they can attract and retain the best staff.

At Swan, we ask our staff to innovative, to be enterprising, to live our social purpose and make a difference every day. That's no small ask - so what are we doing in return?

Well, we set out on a journey to become a "great place to work" and although we've made it to No.22 in the Sunday Times Top 100 Best Not-for-Profit Companies To Work For (No.8 HA if you're interested!) in just 3 years, it's a journey that can't and won't stop. That ranking is based on the votes of our Staff.

So, what has that journey looked like? It has taken me out on roadshows, meeting staff from across the business and getting them to influence our corporate strategy and how we should deliver it. The strategy's strapline reflecting how we could 'Together delivering more.'

We've held fantastic staff conferences and this year, our first ever Employee Awards event - recognising those who do 'more'. We've put in place leadership training to ensure all our managers have the skills they need to inspire their teams and secured not only Investors in People Gold, but also Housing Diversity Network Accreditation. We've been open and transparent about our Gender Pay and have a clear plan in place to address the gender pay gap. We want to be a great place for everyone to work.

Most recently we've put in place a Transformation Programme - to ensure our Staff have the offices, kit and working arrangements they need. We've become an agile work place - giving Staff the flexibility they need by creating new types of office space, giving them IT equipment that lets them work anywhere and to work more smartly wherever they are. We recognise that flexible working is a big attraction and can work for both Swan and our Staff. So far, so good. No.22 and looking to go higher!

But how do we ensure that we are not only a great employer now, but also in the future? 

We recognise that we need to keep talking (and listening) to our Staff. Later this year, I will be out and about on another round of roadshows, checking in with our Swan team and looking further into the future, asking ourselves what will millennials expect from Swan? We think we are well placed to attract these employees of the future - they want to make a difference and work for the greater good. Research from Deloitte found that of the 8,000 millennials it surveyed, 75% felt that businesses were too focused on their own agendas rather than striving to make an impact on society. Swan Group with its focus on commercial activity only to deliver our social purpose (that's homes and services for our residents) - should stand out from the pack.

But, just to be sure we are doing the right thing, I am about to meet with some of our millennials, so we can discuss how we can not only attract the best Staff in the future, but also engage with the residents of the future and build homes that millennials will want to live in!

So, we think becoming #thebestplacetowork is a journey which doesn't stop. It is however, one which is worthwhile, not just for us, but for our Staff and customers too.

John D Synnuck - Chief Executive


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