Assessing and Developing Culture, Engagement and Wellbeing in Organisations Webinar

Posted on 20 Sep

Earlier in the year, Director of People Solutions, Mark Greenwood and colleague Georgia Nedkoff ran an online webinar and took a deep dive into assessing and developing culture, engagement and wellbeing in organisations through a number of case studies.


Webinar Agenda

  • Introduction
    • People Solutions, who we are
    • Case Study Overview
    • People Solutions Approach
  • Case Study 1 – Well-being Diagnostics – Mining
  • Case Study 2: Organizational Health Check
  • Case Study 3: Focus Groups for Engagement – Disabilities – Not-for-profit
  • Lessons Learnt
  • Questions & Final Thoughts


Watch our webinar, or read the transcription below



Mark: Thank you everybody for joining us. Other people may drop in as, as we go along. Great. If you need to shoot off or anything, that’s fine too, but thank you for your time this afternoon. And for taking the time to listen to a couple of case studies that we have for you. My name’s Mark Greenwood, I’m a Director of People Solutions and a registered Psychologist. My colleague here is Georgia Nedkoff. Georgia is a Consultant with the Business Center, registered Psychologist too. What we’re going to do today is talk you through a bit of a slide deck of information, but also, we are going to talk through some specific case studies. The purpose of this webinar is actually to try and inform you about some processes that we use that you can use as well. So, it’s to give you some ideas and hopefully give you some different thinking in terms of ways of approach a diagnosing culture and different issues within the business. As Georgia mentioned, if questions as you go along final off to us in the chat box, and we’ll make sure we answer them at the end. Anything from your end Georgia?


Georgia: No, that’s all good. I’m just going to start sharing our slide deck. Hopefully, it’s not going to be death by PowerPoint. We will spend most of the time talking about the case studies there as well. So, I’m just going to share that with you all now.


Slide Content: People Solutions

• Perth-based Organizational Psychology consultancy with predominantly WA customers, as well as a national and global customer base
• Strong track record in utilizing individual, team, and organizational diagnostics in the provision of organizational development services
• Our purpose: “Helping People Succeed”

Mark: Okay. Just a quick introduction to People Solutions for those of you who don’t know us. As a business, we’ve been around for over 20 years in Perth. Perth’s our primary office, of course. We’re organizational site consultancy and a lot of the work we do is in Western Australia, but of course these days with the internet and the sort of work that we do. We do work for national and global customers. We do work for the large corporates in oil and gas, mining and other areas right down to non for profits. So, and you’ll see from the diversity of case studies that we talk about today, some of that range of different industries that we work in. We do work psychometric testing, assessment development centers, career transition outplacement services, but we also do organizational development work where the focus is really on looking at individuals, teams, and organizations, and coming up with the right sort of diagnostics for them. Our purpose helping people succeed, whether that’s individuals, teams, or organizations, that’s pretty much the focus of what we do. You get that wrong.


Slide Content: This Session

This Session

How do you assess culture, engagement, and wellbeing in a way that meets the needs of your business and its people?

Mark: This session, we’re going to talk about how you assess culture engagement and wellbeing in these case studies. The case studies that we’re using, they’re not so big. So, I guess large that you’d look at them and think, well, I just can’t do that myself. In fact, a lot of what we’re going to talk about is stuff that you can apply within your own organization. We’re looking very much at three different case studies, one that looks at culture, another one that was, is about engagement. And then the other one, which is looking about, more of the wellbeing overview for an organization. So, the first that Georgia is going to talk us through is with a mining company. I mean, to a mid-tier mining company they were interested in having a look at wellbeing across their operational workforce and came to us saying, how can we communicate to our workforce that this is something that’s been talked about?

Slide Content: Case Studies

Well-Being Diagnostic Survey and Focus Groups
• Mining
Organizational Culture Survey
• Oil and Gas
Focus Groups for Engagement
• Disabilities Not-for-Profit


Mark: But then also, what can we actually start doing about that? The second one is Oil and Gas company. Where they wanted to have a look at the culture of their business and the way they brought two businesses together. And the third is in a Disabilities Not-for-Profit area where they wanted to very much have a look at the engagement of the people within the business. What brought people to their business and kept them there. So, we’re going to keep the information very focused on these case studies. And as I say, how you can apply these sorts of processes potentially within a new organization where you feel it’s appropriate.


Slide Content: Step 1: Understand what success looks like

Step 1:
Understand what success looks like

Clarify the reasons and expectations around outcomes.
For example, to assess or understand:
• Successful integration of new best practice
• Minimal disruption to employees
• Continued development following previous interventions
• To maintain current success

Georgia: Okay. So, just before we jump into the case studies, I’m not going to spend too much time talking through this sort of backend process or setting up the scene. A lot of you on the webinar OD or HR professionals so it’s quite likely that you have a really good understanding of diagnostics anyway. But in terms of people’s solutions approach to overly simplify it, it’s sort of a three-step approach when it comes to rolling out diagnostics within the business. The first step is in relation to understanding why. So, why it is that you are looking to assess certain areas. There could be something coming up in terms of some new research that’s available for yourself within the business. There could be change going about within your organization, potentially there were some interventions that were put forward and you like a bit more understanding around that, or, maybe things are just going pretty well. And you sort of want to understand what are the things that are working well, and how can you look at retaining that or keeping that going as well. So, that’s really brief. It’s really just about clarifying the why.


Georgia: So, you understand why we’re doing this process and that can be clearly communicated to the employees as well. And that will also help you work out what it is that you’re actually going to be looking for and who it is that you need to talk to in relation to this. So, this brings us on to our second step, which is about understanding what it is that you’re going to be assessing, looking for diagnosing and who it is that you’re going to be talking to in this process as well. Now, depending on that, we’ll depend on the process that you take, whether it’s customized diagnostics and off-the-shelf diagnostics, and whether your approach is going to be a survey, a focus group, or an interview as well.

Slide Content: Step 2: Ask the right questions and involve the right people

Step 2:
Ask the right questions and involve the right people

Pros: specific to needs and circumstances, evolve over time, face validity – better received
Cons: time to develop

Off the shelf
Pros: tried and tested, quick and easy, recognizable and marketable
Cons: non-targeted to needs and circumstances, face validity

Pros: large numbers, quantitative data, anonymity, time and cost, All employees
Cons: depth of information

Focus Groups
Pros: medium numbers, qualitative data, discussion, cross-section of employees (mgmt. separate)
Cons: time and cost

Pros: smaller numbers, qualitative data, one-on-one, all employees
Cons: time and cost


Georgia: So, all the case studies that we are talking through during the session today, these are customized solutions. What people solutions do is we provide bespoke diagnostics. There may be situations where it could be more beneficial to put forward an off-the-shelf option. And this would be in the case of dealing with very large numbers and sort of just assessing where things are at initially as well. In the case studies that we talked to today, we will go through each of these different survey options in terms of surveys, focus groups, and interviews. So, you have a really good understanding in terms of what those different areas look like, and in your situation, which one may be most beneficial for yourselves as well. It is important with each different option you choose. They’re obviously all going to have their pros, cons as well.


Georgia: So, it’s important that you really define that why quite clearly, as this will help in terms of deciding what’s the best approach for this two. The last step is to provide feedback. Once you’ve rolled out the diagnostics, it’s really important that you do feedback that information to your employees as well. The amount of times, Mark and I have gone in to meet with organizations and the employees have thought, oh, here’s another couple of consultants that are just going to come in, talk to us and then leave again without finding out what the outcomes of that are. It’s really common. It is very important that you do feedback that information that’s been gained from the diagnostic, what it is that you found out, any recommendations based on that within reason, that’s going to be effective for your company to put forward and any timelines around those recommended as well.

Slide Content: Step 3: Feedback, respond, reassess

Step 3:
Feedback, respond, reassess

Feedback within the organization should be:
• Cascaded to involved parties
• Timely
• Align to team/Organizational goals
• Focus on strengths as well as development areas.

Periodic reassessment enables identification of outcomes following OD interventions


Georgia: Aligning it to the organizational goals are great because that really helps to highlight to the employees how their role and how their feedback ties in with a broader organizational picture as well. Reassessing is really great in terms of, it gives you that benchmark when you initially do the diagnostic assessment, and then reassessing a year to a couple of years down the track can be really helpful in terms of understanding how those interventions have gone and how those changes have been made as well. So that’s really brief in terms of defining why you’re running out the diagnostics. What it is that you’re looking for? What’s going to be the best approach to that? Who you’re going to ask? And ensuring that you’re feeding back that information in a timely fashion as well. So we’re going to spend more time through the case studies as this will help highlight that three-step approach a little bit more. Mark and myself have been to lots of webinars before.

Slide Content: Case Study 1: Well-being Diagnostics – Mining

Case Study 1:
Well-being Diagnostics – Mining

The Brief:

Due to the release of finding into mental health and well-being of FIFO employees; the company requested feedback on current research to be delivered to employees.


Remote site had recently been re-staffed, and the organization requested an analysis of employees’ perceptions around maintaining and improving well-being.

The Goal:

To develop timely and effective targets and recommendations for action around the well-being of FIFO employees


Georgia: And we find talking to the case studies probably the best way to learn information and to take on board any information that’s provided as well. So, our first case study is with like Mark mentioned a mid-tier mining company. They approached us on the back of some new research. There was research that was commissioned by the mental health commission around the mental health and wellbeing of FIFO employees. On the back of this, this organization requested Mark and myself to come in and present that information to employees, but they also wanted to understand, based on that report and the findings that came out of it. Where their employees sit in relation to that, and what are their perceptions in relation to FIFO areas that may impact mental health. So, these are things, a lot of us understand FIFO can impact mental health.


Georgia: That’s things like swings, rosters, camp facilities, connections with their team, and also connections with others as well. We looked at sort of a wide range of factors in relation to that. Our goal for this project was to develop timely and effective targets and recommendations for this company, for actions around the wellbeing of their FIFO employees as well. How we went about this? Mark and I actually got the privilege of flying out to the site. So, this was pre-COVID days. And what we did was we presented the findings to employees prior to run rolling out the wellbeing diagnostics. By having this initial communication at the start with the employees at their pre-start meetings, this helped kind of prepare them and set them up that, Mark and I will be walking around on-site that will be putting forward surveys or running focus groups and really so that they could start thinking about their own wellbeing or areas of their own FIFO lifestyle that may impact this, or maybe quite positive as well.

Slide Content: Case Study 1: Well-being Diagnostics

Case Study 1:
Well-being Diagnostics

The Diagnostics:
• Cross sectional focus groups
• Site wide wellbeing surveys

The Process:
• Communicate FIFO Mental Health and Wellbeing Findings
• Experience the work environment
• Focus groups and surveys


Georgia: In terms of the approach, we took for this because it was a mid-tier organization so relatively large. What we did was roll out a sitewide survey. We had a pretty good response rate on this. So, all employees, including leadership participated in the surveys, and then we also ran some cross-sectional focus groups as well. With these focus groups, it was very important for us to keep the leadership or management team separate from any sort of operational staff as well. That way we find that the operational team feels more comfortable speaking about areas of improvement without feeling like they may be punished for speaking up as well. Not that they would be, but it does create that atmosphere of psychological safety as well. So, the reason we went for the survey and the focus groups was we found the surveys were really beneficial at looking at wellbeing from an individual perspective.


Georgia: For these surveys, we looked at things like employee satisfaction in their roles. The survey also included the depression, anxiety, stress scale, or DASS, which can help to look at certain areas where wellbeing may be impacted due to FIFO lifestyle as well. So, the surveys very much gave us that quantitative information that we were able to feedback to the employer. Then the focus groups were a nice add-on to that information. As these allowed us to delve a little bit deeper into areas that were identified within the survey as well. Now, the focus groups they were semi-structured. So, we would start off with some open-ended questions and ensure these questions tapped into those areas that were identified around FIFO wellbeing, such as camp facilities, connections with others, swing, and roster as well. These focus groups really just allowed people to have a chance to communicate, talk, share their ideas and perspectives as well.


Georgia: And because Mark and I were there facilitating them, we were able to bring in people that may be a bit more quiet and really relay that information in a way that people could understand and so that they felt comfortable putting full or their ideas as well. So, our process was first, we communicated the outcomes of the firefighter’s mental health and wellbeing report. We advised our role and why we’d be there. We also got to experience the work environment by going out onto the site as well and seeing things firsthand in terms of the camp facilities. And then we had that survey and focus group combination as well. So, in terms of the outcomes from this, here are just some brief snapshots from the report that we provided. But essentially what we did was we used findings in the quantitative information from the surveys we’d present that in tables or graphs. And then that focus group information so that qualitative data were able to pull out themes from that and make connections with what was found within the survey summaries.


Slide Content: Case Study 1: Well-being Diagnostics

Case Study 1:
Well-being Diagnostics

The Outcome:
Eighty five percent (85%) of participants were ‘moderately’ to ‘very’ satisfied with their job.

The majority expressed a preference for 12:9 or 2:2 rosters but few had thought of implications of changes.

Quote “Everything is good out here.”


Georgia: For example, within the surveys looking at that DAS scale or depression, anxiety, stress, the area around feeling tired and having fatigue was the lowest area that was found for these FIFO employees. Based on that, and based on our discussions from the focus group, it was found that transitioning from day to night shifts, employees tended to find these as more effective than the transition from the night to day shifts as well. We are able to provide some recommendations based on that as well. When feeding back information you know, most companies and most people tend to focus on the and negatives. We all have that negative confirmation bias. It is really important that you still include that positive information within there. For the most part, 85% of these FIFO employees were moderately to very satisfied with their role. A lot of them did communicate that they really enjoyed the organization. They appreciated working there, but hey, here are some suggestions on ways in which things can be done more effectively as well.


Slide Content: Case Study 1: Well-being Diagnostics

Case Study 1:
Well-being Diagnostics

The Outcome:

1. Research does suggest that even time or shorter time rosters are best for wellbeing. Implications for increased business costs should be weighed against workforce wellbeing, costs and productivity. A cost benefit analysis could be carried out regarding roster change, the strengths and opportunities changing rosters may provide as well as the threats. Employees should be educated as to the potential gains/losses if switching to a different roster.
2. Given reported fatigue surrounding transitioning from night shift to time off site, wellbeing and health consequences versus the safety aspects of this shift change should be investigated. Use of shift work specialist and/or shift work/fatigue modelling software can be of great assistance here, particularly if reducing shift times is a business option.

Quick Win:
Prepare and educate workers to manage day to night transitions, as well as night to day transitions when they fly out, to optimize health and provide adequate recovery time between day and night shift transitions.

Georgia: When providing those statistics that quantitative and qualitative information, it’s also important that you put forward some outcomes as well, based on that data. So, the data’s all well in good, but what can we actually do with that? What are some suggestions and things that could be put forward as well? With recommendations, not all of them can be implemented that’s why it’s important to have a discussion with the company in terms of what’s reasonable. And having a look at that research out there as well in terms of what is best in relation to this. For example, for this group research did suggest that, even time or shorter rosters are more effective for wellbeing. That’s what the research suggests. However, there are business and personal costs based on this. A lot of employees, they wanted those shorter rosters or those even time rosters, but they didn’t consider that, that would then impact their remuneration as well.


Georgia: There are things to consider when putting forward recommendations as well. Along with these sorts of recommendations that require a bit more longer-term thinking and longer-term planning, quick wins are always fun, and they’re always things that organizations can implement straightaway. When reporting these findings, we do find the quick wins really helpful for businesses. For example, this one is just about preparing and educating workers to manage the day to night transitions. So, any information that can be provided to them a little bit more can help in terms of reducing that fatigue as well.


Slide Content: Case Study 2: Organizational Health Check – Oil and Gas

Case Study 2:
Organizational Health Check – Oil and Gas

The Brief: A non-operational oil and gas investment business acquired an operational business. The business had attempted to amalgamate two very different organizations with two explicit cultures.

Clarify: Uncover and analyze current operating culture: what is working, what is not working, and how has culture changed since the amalgamations.

The Goal: Run an organizational ‘health check’ to assess the current operating culture – what is currently working, and how might the organization build upon this into the future.

Mark: Alright. Thank you, Georgia. I’ll talk you through case study number two, this is a project we run. In fact, we’ve done a couple of surveys with this company, one a few a year or so ago, two years ago, almost and another more recently, just as a bit of a follow-up. The organization came to us and said, look, we want to do an organizational health check. And we said, what is that exactly? Because a health check can mean anything from physical to wellbeing and many other things. So, what they wanted to do was to get a snapshot of the organizational culture in a sense. Now, what’s this organization, there was a, they amalgamated, or they’d acquired recently an operational business. So, they had gone from a non-operational investment house to a having an operating facility within their organization. In that, they have two very different cultures.


Mark: So, they’ve got cultures that are in some respects, just totally at odds with each other. And what I mean by that is, one’s very much focused on the investment side of their business. The other is producing operational results. The first thing we did, we want to clarify, so what do you really want to get from this organizational health check? What they wanted to understand was what was their current operating culture: what was working and what wasn’t working, and how would that potentially have changed since the amalgamation of the two businesses. The organizational health check was to have a look at that operating culture as it currently exists. What was working and how it might build on that into the future. The information that can get now, they thought we can use this to bring together a more cohesive culture that works despite the amalgamation of these two businesses.


Slide Content: Case Study 2: Organizational Health Check – Oil and Gas

Case Study 2:
Organizational Health Check

The Diagnostics:
• One-on-One interviews, organizational health ‘check’
• Organization wide

The Process:
• Engaging with People Solutions as a third party to communicate the rationale along with the executive team
• Create an environment where all employees were able to share their perspectives
• Clarity of in scope/out of scope!

Mark: The diagnostics. It was quite important when we discussed with the organization that the executives in the business, they said, we want everybody in the organization to have a voice. Now, as Georgia mentioned before, if you are talking an organization with thousands of people doing one-on-one interviews, isn’t going to be pragmatic. Not unless you want to pay a consulting team, a lot of money, and a lot of time to do that for you. So, they said, no, we have a business, which is of a size where we can get you to do one-on-one interviews because we want everybody to feel like they’ve been heard so that they have it, an ability to put forward their ideas, and then their opinion. That’s what they wanted by way of the organizational health check. And they wanted everybody in the business to participate.


Mark: They didn’t mandate it, but they did say we’d like everybody to be involved. We said, yes, great. We can do that for you. We put together a structured interview. When you’re going into these sorts of situations, you do want to have an understanding of what are the sort of factors that we’re going to be trying to measure here? It’s really important. We said, okay, first of all, we need to be clear with the executive team as to what we’re trying to achieve here. But also, we need to talk to everybody in the business and communicate what this is about. We got them to organize a town hall meeting, where everybody was, came along, they put on a light lunch and said, here are some people we’re going to do this project. They’ll explain to you who they are and how this is going to work.


Mark: So, we introduced ourselves and we provided information on, this is what’s in scope. This is what this organizational health check is going to do. What we’re going to be asking about? What we’re going to be talking about? We made it really clear about what’s confidential. Confidentiality is really important to get people to speak clearly, and then honestly, about how they feel. We communicated those messages. We said, look, here are our business cards. If you want to contact us independent of the business, just discuss more about what we are doing, happy to do that. We wanted to create an environment where everybody could share their perspectives. We made sure that people understand what’s in scope and what’s out of scope. And as Georgia mentioned before with the mining company, I mean, if you go and talk to people and say, well, hey, tell us what your problems are.


Mark: Everyone’s going to think about, well, what do I don’t, what don’t I like? What should I talk about? They’re going to always give you feedback. But you’ve got to make it clear. Well, if one person says, I don’t think I’m remunerated fairly, that doesn’t add up to an organizational or cultural problem. That’s one person. It’s clear, important to say, look, we’re not here to advocate for you to get more money. We’re here to get a snapshot of the organization. It’s important for both with the organization and with the people that you are talking to, to make sure that they understand what is in and what is out of scope when you embark on these sorts of projects. Now, there’s a bit of detail here. It’s probably a little hard to read for you. But just to summarize it, when we did this overview in 2019, some of the things that we found and are pure by having these structured interviews, as I say. First of all, the organization culture and vision almost 60% of the employees didn’t actually know the future of the business.

Slide Content: Case Study 2: Organizational Health Check

Case Study 2: Organizational Health Check

The Outcome 2019:

Four main themes emerged from the interviews as areas for improvement:

Organizational culture & vision
• 58% of employees want to know more about the future direction of the ABC business.
• Those who were aware of the future direction only understand it from a broader sense.
• Those who were not aware would like more clarity on ABC’s vision and direction.
• Differing cultural business approaches (top-down vs bottom-up decision-making) are creating confusion between employees and managers.

Organizational structure
• 54% of employees identified a need for more open communication between departments.
• Most respondents described ABC as siloed
• Employees feel they are rarely asked for their feedback or involved in decision-making (decisions are made from the top-down).
• Employees felt their career trajectory with ABC is limited by a ceiling in the structure.
• Perceived disparity with ABC, ACD and contractor employment.

• 57% wanted leaders to communicate more openly with employees.
• Since the integration there has been little concerted effort to communicate across departments.
• Perceived lack of transparency from Senior Management regarding vision and pipelines.
• Most feel that changes are communicated abruptly and post-hoc, rather than consulting or informing staff throughout the process.

Processes & Systems
• 60% felt the current processes and systems hamper their ability to work effectively.
• The different systems and contracts for ACD versus ABC creates confusion and extra work, especially for Finance & Admin staff.
• Issues with the Document Management System and financial systems are impacting productively, efficiency, and accuracy.
• Having inconsistencies work processes is impacting role clarify for staff in some roles.


Mark: What they meant was, they, although the business had been brought together successfully in terms of communication, there wasn’t a broader vision painted for them as to where are we going? Are we going to grow the organization? Are we going to be pursuing new projects? Are we going to be pursuing alternative energy sources or whatever else? So, a lot of people in the business had this feeling. We don’t really know where it’s all headed. It’s a problem. The org structure a lot of, almost half or a bit over half, in fact, said there’s a need, the business is siloed. We need the opportunity to have better communications across the business. We’re not working finance, isn’t working with operations administration, isn’t supporting these other areas as effectively. There was a disconnect in that sense.


Mark: They wanted to get out of the silos and work together more cohesively. 57% wanted their leaders to communicate more openly. They had a feeling that our leaders potentially know where we are going, but we don’t. In relation to things like performance, in relation to how different parts of the business are working with each other, there wasn’t clarity. And 60% said, the current processes, the systems happened, their ability to work effectively. And if that was two businesses bringing together two sets of processes and systems. We made some recommendations on that. I mean, just, and a really simple recommendation was like, is that we suggested the CEO, the exec team should, is that implementing a town hall process. And what we mean by that is bringing employees together and saying, this is the vision of the business. Trying to create some clarity for people so that they understand, what, where is the business going?


Mark: Talking about the org structure, how can we change the org structure? So, there is more communication. Implementing communications processes internally, but also even things like implementing social activities so that people get to know other people in the business and then communicate more freely. Simplistic recommendations. When we did this, we repeated the process for the business in 2021. Yes, the improvements in morale and team spirit had improved significantly. A majority of the people are now near the future direction of the business. They, like all of us, had gone through the whole COVID lockdown process. And they said, look, that had been really well managed by the leaders. 87% knew the standards required of their team. 86% said their manager encouraged them to give produce, give the of ideas for improvement. We’d seen a significant improvement in terms of the way the business was working and that people understood each other more.

Slide Content: Case Study 2: Organizational Health Check

Case Study 2:
Organizational Health Check

The Outcome 2021:
Highlights & Improvements Since 2019
• Improvement in morale and team spirit since 2019
• A majority (75%) of respondents know the future direction of ABC

People and leaders perceived to have managed the COVID-19 lockdown well

87% Know the standards required of their team
• 86% said their manager encourages ideas for improvement
• 70% said people work well together at ABC (up from 50% in 2019)

Organizational Direction
• Participants identified Project A, a focus on energy transition, and growing as an operator in industry as future directions
• The medium to longer term vision was not as clear and employees want to understand the longer term plans better 27% still do not feel that they know the company vision

Trust & Communication
• Participants said townhalls had been effective and expressed a desire to continue these and social events
• Slight decrease in level of trust in team and leader to deliver on promises since 2019
• There is still a lack of communication between departments
• 53% did not feel that management actively solicit input from employees on major decisions


They were clear on the vision. There was good, greater clarity. The organizational direction, well, there had been a project that the business was now focused on pursuing, of course, a common per project brings people together. But people knew a little bit more about, okay, where are we going in terms of certainly this project. But there was still some desire to understand, what’s the longer-term future. So, there were still issues there. Trust and communication. Some of these things like town halls, people said that have been very effective. But there were still some issues in terms of the trust. Where’s our leader going in terms of promises and where’s the communication. How can we continue to improve on that? But there’d definitely been some improvements. Again, an interesting way of gathering data in terms of where’s the culture at within an organization.


Slide Content: Case Study 3: Focus Groups for Engagement – Disabilities Not-for-profit

Case Study 3:
Focus Groups for Engagement – Disabilities Not-for-Profit

The Brief: This organization experienced frequent turnover of one employment group within their staff. Is it the money…?

Clarify: Further discussion advised the company want to better understand the motivators/demotivators of their staff.

The Goal: Provide information that would allow to organization to shape the teams’ roles and ensure ongoing engagement. Recruitment – attraction and retention.

Mark: The next case study I’m going to talk about is in the disabilities non-for-profit sector. In this particular assignment, we decided focus groups were the best way to go. Rather than sort of individual interviews or an organizational-wide survey. This organization, when they contacted us initially, they said, oh, look, we’ve got turnover. In a particular part of our business, an important part of their business. And of course, their question, I guess a lot of people ask the question, is it the money? And we said, okay, well, let’s think about it a little bit more. What do you want to get out of us trying to find out more information on this? So, the company wanted actually to find out, what is motivating or demotivating their staff? Are people leaving because of the money or are there other reasons potentially involved here?


Mark: And they wanted to focus this on the specific area that people were leaving from the business. It wasn’t a, let’s talk to everybody. It’s these particular skills, disability skills workers. They are the focus of where what we want to have a look at. They’re an important part of our business. So, when we talked to them a little bit more, we said, okay, well, let’s, we can gather that information on what motivates and demotivates your people, but this information can be useful to you on an ongoing basis in that. It would allow them to think about how the teams work and the roles that they have, but also it can be used in attraction and retention. If you can find out what keeps people, what attracts them, what motivates people to join the organization, and then what keeps them here. You’ve got information that can add to your attraction and retention processes.


Mark: This organization, not a huge organization in disability services had differently at geographic locations. So, we went to each of these locations and conducted a focus group with the skills workers. The part of that process was sitting down with the group of skills workers, myself in Georgia, in an open environment in sort of the back of the warehouse type of thing. We said, look, we don’ want management to be present. Only because we want people to be able to speak honestly. If they were all saying, look, we think we’ve really poorly paid and it’s not worth staying here. We don’t want them to feel pressure from management if they’re speaking openly like that. We had a particular motivation survey that we developed and this wasn’t highly complex. It was just saying, what are some of the motivators that keep you engaged in your work?

Slide Content: Case Study 3: Focus Groups for Engagement

Case Study 3:
Focus Groups for Engagement

The Diagnostics: Focus groups with each team [location-based], assessing engagement and motivation [Motivations survey]

The Process: Communicate and translate the importance the employees role played within their organization and the community
• Ask open ended questions to better understand what attracted them, what they enjoy about their work, and what keeps them engaged and motivated in the role


Mark: We got everybody to fill that in. That was a sort of five-minute, 10-minute process. And then we had an open discussion with them. Again, what’s in scope, what’s out of scope? Again, we’re here to gather this information. We’re not telling you that everything’s going to change because we’re involved and we’re gathering this information, but legitimately, what are we going to do? We’re going to give direct feedback to the leadership saying these are the issues for you as to what keeps you here and what doesn’t. So, the process of communicating and translating the importance of the employee’s role and played within their organization. And the business said, we want you to tell our people, we tell them anyway, but we want you to tell them we’re doing this because we do value your opinion. They are important to us as a business.


Mark: The actual focus group itself. If you’re running a focus group, it’s very easy for people in a focus, particularly the more vocal members to drag a conversation in a particular direction. Part of your facilitating that focus group, you have to make, keep people onto a bit of a track in terms of what they’re talking about and if they’re deviating or departing from that. If it’s important and everybody’s sort of agreeing, then you can let them go down that track a bit, but you’ve got to try and keep one person who might just be continually banging on about their particular gripe. Is that a gripe that’s consistent with everybody in the business or is that just them, their particular issue? So, yes, for us, it was getting those open-ended questions, but keeping to attract, keeping to some focus on those motivations. What they enjoy about their work and what keeps them motivated.


Slide Content: Case Study 3: Focus Groups for Engagement

Case Study 3: Focus Groups for Engagement

The Outcome:
Overall themes
• Work-life balance and flexibility were identified as top motivators, followed by helping others, personal growth and learning opportunities. These also helped to keep people engaged in their jobs.
• Effective leadership from middle management at each depot was described as supportive, transparent, helpful, and approachable, which helped keep employees engaged.
• Friendships and connections made amongst the employees were seen as beneficial.
• Limited or ineffective communication from senior leadership was a key demotivator across depots and Skill Trainers would like greater transparency around ABC’s goals and direction.

• Leverage key motivators and engagers in recruitment strategies
• Review available technological systems and OHS process – provide training where gaps exist
• Review induction process and include more support and training during onboarding (mentor/shadow)
• Run bi-monthly ‘Town Hall’ style meetings with employees and senior managers to increase transparency
• Implement clear Key Performance Indicators
• Clearly communicate roster changes in a timely fashion
• Provide realistic job preview during recruitment and review job descriptions to fit requirement of role

Mark: Really interesting in terms of the outcome. The people who worked in this disability services group. For them, they did the work because of work-life balance and flexibility. It was really important to them. They actually weren’t there for the money. Very few. In fact, in all of these exercises that Georgia and I have talked about, these case studies. Money came down as very low in terms of what was a motivator for people to either stay or leave. They, people in this industry also had an enormous amount of satisfaction they fill in, that they’re helping others. They like the work-life balance. I can go, I finish early. I can go to my doctor. I can go shopping, pick up the kids, whatever the case might be. But they also got a really strong sense of intrinsic satisfaction of what I do is important because I’m helping other people. They told us that the leadership in terms of their immediate management was effective. It was beneficial. It was helpful to them.


Mark: The friendships and connections they made amongst their colleagues, but also with the people with disabilities was really important to them. A lot of them were socialized after work. They’d go to the local quiz night, these sorts of things. So, those social connections in their work were really important. They explained to us that really, they didn’t know who the next senior leadership was within the business and effectively they didn’t really understand the sort of greater, I guess the purpose of the business they saw the purpose was to help these people gain skills. Now, the recommendations I might talk through all of these, but it was really interesting. The thing we noticed was there was a nexus here or a disconnect. And that is that the people in the business, the skills workers were there because they enjoyed their work. They really liked helping people. That was a really important priority to them.


Mark: A lot of them knew they could get more money in other industries, but they said, we’re here because we want to help these people. That’s really important to us. And yet the business is saying to them, we need you to work more quickly. We need you; we’ve got to finish this project because we need the money because the business was very focused. The leadership was very focused on the commercial aspect of what they do. So, what I’m saying, there is one part of the business is saying to them, we need the commercial outcome. And yet the individual’s delivering the service and thinking, no, we’re here for the people who need the help. So, what the problem is there is that they don’t understand the vision of why is the leadership pushing for this and the leadership doesn’t effectively understand? What’s really motivating our people in the work they do.


Mark: We spoke to them about that. First of all, the thing that we came up with from doing this is we identify these are key engages in terms of the potential in recruitment. So, when you are looking for people in business, work-life balance, and flexibility are going to be really important. Appealing to individuals, intrinsic desire to help others is going to be important in your advertising or your sort, your attraction and processes. We talked to them about the technology, we suggested, well, again, it’s time for Town Halls. And what we mean by that is again, your leadership coming down and saying, the reason we’re focused on the commercial outcome is it allows us to help more people with disability. But how do we do that? And allow you guys to feel like you’re really providing a service. So, really important messages.


Mark: There were other things about communicating roster changes, which was sort of annoying to individuals. These would happen at the last minute and making sure simple things like making sure when people were coming into the business, the recruitment, the induction process was developed more effectively. They found that a lot of people would join wanting to help others, but would be dropped into it. And within a week they’re feeling overwhelmed. Working with people with disabilities is more challenging, their felt than they thought. But if you had somebody who could mentor you, shadow you, and engage you a little bit more and how to deal with some of those challenges, they felt that the outcomes would be more effective. So, that’s a quick overview. As I say, focus groups, the right solution, smaller focus groups, sort of what we had about 10 to a dozen people in each one of them. And people, they put on morning and afternoon teas that always keep people engaged. They were about two hours, no more than that. But it allowed us to get some really good information and provide that feedback to the business. Lessons learnt. That’s Georgia and I on a site with our high beast gear. Georgia is going to talk to a couple of points on the lesson learnt, and then I’ll finish off. Over to you.

Slide Content: Lessons Learnt

Lessons Learnt
How do you assess culture, engagement and wellbeing in a way that meets the needs of your business and its people?


Slide Content: Lessons Learnt

Lesson Learnt:
Challenges and Limitations
• Information collected must be analyzed to develop specific, realistic, actionable recommendations which should serve to meet the needs of a business and its people
• Employees need to be brought on board to feel invested in the process and that it will be worthwhile
• Employees need to feel confident in the fact that their speaking up won’t result in negative outcomes or that their input remains confidential
• Business need to communicate the outcomes to employees in a time-efficient fashion

Georgia: Cool. Those are our case studies. With everything that we roll out and as psychologists, there’s always limitations to things that you do and things to be mindful of and lessons learnt from the process as well. I suppose, in terms of rolling out processes like these, a lot of the time in what Mark and I experienced a meeting with these organizations is the Senior Leadership or HR team tend to know already what the problems are, or what are the areas of focus. However, that doesn’t mean that the reasons for those behaviors or the reasons for those complaints or things could be based on the information that you can see. There could be deeper things going on for these people as well. And that’s where even though you may know that information, it can be really important and really valuable to have these confidential diagnostics. Whether they’re an interview survey or focus group, that can help you understand a little bit deeper as to the reasons behind the behaviors or the reasons behind the comments from employees as well.


Georgia: Getting this information, having data, and having that quantitative or qualitative information can help to then guide actionable items or actionable recommendations that are pragmatic and aligned with your business goals as well. So, although you may already know, the issues or the reasons going on, actually rolling out diagnostics can help gain buy-in as well to any recommendations that come about and can help provide a deeper meaning. It also helps employees feel that they listen to and that they can trust being open and honest in these situations as well. So, employees also need to be brought on board to feel invested in the process and that it’s worthwhile. So, having clear communication upfront and having clear communications at the end can really help employees feel that the process is worthwhile for them too. Obviously, doing things like interviews or focus groups that engagements there whereas surveys, you may tend to find that the completion rate is a little bit lower and that’s quite common as well.


Georgia: Employees need to feel confident in the fact that they’re speaking up won’t result in any negative outcomes. So, this is the reason why we tend to keep management or leadership-focused groups separate from that of other employees, not to say that it will, but employees can feel a lot more confident speaking up if they feel, there’s no leaders listening as well. And whenever we run these things, it is very important to let employees know that their responses are confidential and that all responses are presented as an aggregate. So, as a group. No individual is kind of pinpointed. Specifically, because as Mark mentioned before, we are looking at common themes that come about. If one employee mentions that they’d like a better coffee machine in the office, but the rest of the group hasn’t then that’s information that you don’t put into those reports as well. And then lastly, and I mentioned this before businesses need to communicate the outcomes to employees in a time-efficient fashion. This is very important. You do need to ensure that you sort of communicate that information quickly in time efficiently just to keep employees warm and to keep them trusting the process as well.


Slide Content: Lessons Learnt

Lessons Learnt:
How do we create success?
• Targeted information gathering strategies (e.g. focus groups, interviews, diagnostic assessments)
• Tailored- not generic!
• Base recommendations on data derived from your people
• Tailor recommendations/interventions
• Build pragmatic/timely solutions
• Communicate findings/timelines
• Maintain/create trust

Mark: Cool. Alright. We’ll wrap up because we’re getting close to time, but just the lessons learnt. Target your information. Think about what’s the right process to apply, not every process and you can have a combination of these things as we suggested. Tailoring them, if it’s an organizational survey across 3000 people, well again, the degree to which you’re going to tailor that to specific areas is going to be different. But if you are looking for smaller diagnostic processes within your organization, targeted particular areas, you can tailor them. Based on your recommendations on data from your people, with all of these assignments, we produce an A4 infographic that we give to the business and say, look, here’s what you can release to your people, which explains the outcomes of what came from these surveys or these focus groups or whatever else.


Mark: That, and for some businesses, there might be challenges in that, for the example, the oil and gas business that case study, they said, yes, we want you to tell our, communicate this back to our people. So, we stood up in front of the group and said, well, look, yes, these were the findings. 58% of you don’t understand what the vision is, and the leadership said, yes, that’s something we’re going to work on changing. So, that sort of feedback proves to people that they’ve been listened to and that it’s something happening. Tailor your recommendations and interventions. Not all of them have to be complex. They can be relatively simple and an easy win as Georgia just said. But understand and make sure people understand what’s in scope and what isn’t. Build pragmatic, make the solutions timely and the feedback timely too.


Mark: As I say that that constant feedback, we get is another consultancy or another cultural survey or another survey, nothing ever comes in these. When you can start implementing just some basic timely solutions, easy wins, then people start feeling their sum response. Communicate the findings of timelines. And by doing all of this, you maintain, create trust in the people in the business that they’re being listened to. That’s probably enough from us. We’ve run to 45 minutes. Thank you very much for your time and attention. We appreciate that. I hope there’s been some interest as Georgia mentioned. We are happy to share slides with you. If there are any questions please fire away.


Slide Content: Questions?


Georgia: So, we do have a question here that says, what are some factors that you consider when recommending realistic actions?

Mark: Good question. Thank you, Greg. Look, the factors in terms of, there are some things that obviously it’s really important to make sure that people understand what’s in scope and what’s out of scope. Now, with the mining example that Georgia spoke about. The employee said, oh, look, you know, what would we’d do ideally. And if you ask her, I guess, a lot of people in those five arrangements, we’d love to go to an even time roster. Now, a realistic action for the organization and communicating that back and say, everybody wants to go to an even time roster. Is that realistic to the business? And the business were very clear. they said, no, it can’t happen. Because number one, from an operational point of view and a whole range of other reasons from, I’m sure there were financial perspectives in there that, no, we can’t do that.


Mark: But also, they said to the employees in the business that we can do that. But you know that if we go to that sort of roster, there will be an, there will be a financial implication for you as well. It’s not just the business saying, well, we want to make more money or save money, but realistically, if we go to an even time roster, your remuneration’s going to potentially decrease. Now, when people consider that that’s an I can’t will know. So, in terms of thinking about those realistic actions, it’s creating an understanding of what’s in and out of scope, but then also communicating back to people. Well, there are some things here that we can do, we can act upon immediately like under getting you to understand the vision. But there are some things in terms of what everybody’s wanting here that are longer term prospects that have to be thought out at a more strategic level. And we’re going to have to take time to think about and get back to you on. So, I hope that answers your question there, Greg, but it is very much making sure people understand what can and can’t be achieved within that scope.


Georgia: Any other questions? Anyone will give maybe just another minute or so? That all sounds pretty clear. Obviously, as I mentioned before, this session is being recorded. We can pop those slides up as well and send those through to you. And if any more questions do come up around that as well. We do have another question here. What if the staff doesn’t agree that management are coming up with realistic actions, i.e. the more fluffy approach to the more strategic?


Mark: Yes. Realistically, you know, there are going to be things that the staff look at and say, look, we don’t agree with this, you know? So, the staff doesn’t agree that, we don’t agree with there’s a particular approach that we are suggesting. I’m just trying to think of an example. So, the recommendations that we made in the non-for-profit group, the staff, one of them was, there’s, the staff need to be trained up more in terms of the use of some technology. Now, if the staff say, we don’t really agree with that. The management then would say, look, this is the reason that, you suggested there’s some, this is something that you want to do. Sure. It’s going to make, take time for you to actually get up to speed with that.


Mark: But if this is something that’s impeding you in your job, then we think it’s important. So, I guess the basis comes down to, how are the management going to communicate what’s required of people in terms of those sorts of changes and what’s required of them not, it’s not all about, well what’s management going to do to solve all the problems here. It’s very much about, what are we going to do that? The more fluffy approach to the strategic, I think, I guess what I’m saying, what I think there is the strategic stuff, and that will take time. It’s very difficult for an organization to say, hey, we are going to make a strategic change overnight. It’s trying to think about, within all of the recommendations that we might provide or within the information that you get from your focus group. You’ve got to take that back and say, there are some small wins here that might be easily implemented in terms of providing some extra assistance to people or providing them some training and development. But we’ve also got to step back and think of some of the bigger picture stuff here.


Mark: How does it, what we are thinking about doing time with our strategic direction? So again, for the Non-for-Profit that I spoke about, what’s their way overall strategy in terms of continuing to grow the business so that they can ensure they provide services to people with disability. So, they’ve got to think about the strategy, how they can do that, and yet maintain these people who are delivering the service for them. Yes, absolutely. It’s something that has to be considered. I don’t have all the answers there.


Georgia: Cool. Great. Thanks, Tracy. Doesn’t seem like we have any more questions here. But like I did mention just previously, we will send out the recording once that’s uploaded and the slides that’ll be from myself or Mark. So, feel free to come back to us with any questions. If anything does come up as well, more than happy to provide that advice and insight as well. Thank you so much for your time, everyone. I really appreciate it. Hope your stomachs aren’t grumbling as much as mine is as well. But really do hope you enjoy the rest of your day and we’ll chat to you soon.

Mark: Thanks for joining us.

Georgia: Thanks, guys.

Mark: Take care.

Georgia: Bye.

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