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Cutting jargon ‘helped turn NGN’s employee engagement around’

Cutting jargon ' turned employee engagement around at NGN'

April 30, 2015

The next time someone doubts the merits of employee engagement point them towards this article.

Northern Gas Networks (NGN) has scooped a hat-trick of prestigious awards, three years after receiving dire feedback from its annual employee survey.

How? By revamping its approach to engaging staff.

The energy supplier, which distributes gas to 2.7 million homes and businesses in the North East, reached a low point in 2012 when its staff survey revealed employees felt no sense of belonging to the company.

Worse still, the company also scored particularly poorly in Ofgem’s customer satisfaction survey.

To NGN’s credit, the changes were sweeping, empowering colleagues to become part of the organisation’s decision-making process.

Susan Wareham, NGN’s HR Director, told HR Magazine: “We knew we needed to do something different.

“We needed to start a process where employees felt more empowered. So we set up our ongoing Inspire programme.

“We took a very small number of people, put them in a room, talked about the business’s strategy and said: ‘What ideas have you got?’

“They went away and influenced other people to take ownership of the company strategy and found solutions to challenges. We call that Influencing Circles.”

Placing colleagues at the heart of the firm’s strategy was a big step in the right direction.

However NGN went further still. Its approach towards internal comms was tweaked too, making a conscious to eliminate commonplace corporate jargon. Company messaging today purposefully avoids certain terminology known to hinder engagement.

So what type of phrases have been ditched in NGN’s comms strategy?

Susan explained: “We are very careful we don’t call things initiatives, projects or culture change programmes.

“If you label them like that they come and go and become history.”

It is all part of NGN putting the employee first – listening and responding to feedback.

A simple yet hugely effective approach, which was recognised at the inaugural UK Employee Experience Awards last month.

The organisation won the ‘Employee Insight and Feedback’ and ‘Employee Engagement — People at the Heart’ awards while CEO Mark Horsley scooped the ‘Inspirational Leader or Manager’ category.

To read the full interview with Susan in HR Magazine, click here…