Case study

Employee engagement and wellbeing: NE Yorkshire and Humber District

How the North East Yorkshire and Humber District in the Department for Work and Pensions improved employee engagement from 2012 to 2014.


Key ideas from this case study:

  • make a long-term commitment to increasing and sustaining high engagement – not just when your annual staff survey results are released
  • central to success is including staff in the decisions that affect their work
  • make employee engagement the responsibility of all managers

When it comes to Employee Engagement, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in the North East Yorkshire and Humber district has been a high-performer since 2012. Harrogate Jobcentre Plus, for example, had an Employee Engagement Index of 87% in 2014. Similarly, the engagement score for York Monkgate Jobcentre Plus in 2014 was 73%, having been 49% in 2012.

The Central Support Services Business Manager for the region was interviewed to gain insight into why the North East Yorkshire and Humber district performs so well.

A culture of engagement

As a senior management team we place significant value on employee engagement. In fact, employee engagement has become a central principle in our part of the organisation.

One way they achieve this is to ensure that engagement is on the agenda at all times. Though the data provided by the annual Civil Service People Survey is an important resource in identifying issues relating to employee engagement, there has been a push to ensure that engagement is not only addressed in response to the release of the People Survey results, but that it also remains an ongoing process of improvement.

Recognising that, in order to benefit, employee engagement needs to be part of the organisation’s culture, not a one-off event. Employee engagement is “not just for Christmas”, so to speak! Thus, the district strives to be proactive in this area. One example of this is the use of pulse surveys to complement the larger People Survey. These smaller surveys are typically administered twice a year to provide a measure of engagement across the district.

Employee engagement is the responsibility of all managers

It is the responsibility of all managers, regardless of their grade, to ensure that employee engagement remains a central organising principle. It is essential that managers are approachable at all times and a special effort is made to ensure that managers of all grades are accessible, particularly during periods of change.

Managers are also encouraged to make transparent decisions. Having already discussed the importance of consulting widely with staff from across the organisation, it is equally important to provide feedback, explaining outcomes and the decision-making processes that go in to them. It is not enough simply to invite staff to share their views. This transparency ensures that people feel listened to and that they are not wasting their time by getting involved and giving their opinions.

Consulting all staff delivers business benefits

The senior management team strives to ensure that all levels of the organisation are regularly consulted about any changes or issues that affect them. Their hope is that all DWP staff are given the opportunity to express their views and have a say on all aspects of their work, big or small. Managers across the district facilitate a range of forums through which staff can get involved in this process, from large-scale information sessions designed to inform staff of operational changes that will have far-reaching consequences on the way they work, through to informal forums where staff are able to express local concerns, operational or otherwise.

Such consultations allow managers to get the views of their team members and work more closely with them to ensure changes are effectively implemented. This has been a particularly successful strategy following the roll-out of Universal Credit. As an early adopter of this system, we recognise the role that our staff played in the successful transition during this period.

By giving a voice to all staff we are not only better able to effectively implement change, but to demonstrate to them that their views and opinions make a difference.

Published 21 December 2016