We’ve gone platinum!

Yes! – Today I’m talking about Investors in People (IIP) and how our business has reached the dizzy heights of ‘Platinum’ accreditation.

In December 2019, Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure (part of a leading UK construction and regeneration group) finally achieved the highest accolade for its commitment to high performance through good people management: Investors in People (IIP) Platinum.

This standard is currently held by around only 1% of IIP accredited organisations and is fantastic recognition of the quality of our People, the culture we have created, and the improvements we have made to our business over the past few years.

A bit of context…

Things have gone from ‘good’ to ‘great’!

In a 2017 IIP assessment, the business achieved ‘Gold’ standard with an overall score of 49.5 from its survey, falling just short of ‘Platinum’ accreditation by the finest of margins – Ouch! However, with much greater backing, our 2019 survey saw an average completion rate of 85% business-wide, with many participating in workshops and interviews with the assessor.

To put this into perspective, In Morgan Sindall Construction, our survey response rate in the Eastern region was up 35% in total (79% in 2019 compared to 44% in 2017), demonstrating that our staff are now much more engaged with the business’ candid stance. With an overall score of 52.4, and a much wider sample, news broke that we were accredited with ‘Platinum’ status as of December 2019 – the perfect start to a new decade!

So how did we do it?

Well… you can’t exactly put your finger on one thing and say, “that’s it!” because no single action got us to where we are now. It has been a gradual build-up of many factors which stem from the way that Morgan Sindall Construction manages, supports and develops our people.

Recent years have seen the instillment of cultural philosophies that derive from our vision and values which focus on empowering staff and bottom-up management.

So, what makes Morgan Sindall Construction such a good employer?

To be honest, this simply can’t be described in just a single paragraph… 

So, with reference to the Mindful Collective Framework, I’ll be breaking this down into the following three areas; (1) Leadership and Culture, (2) Employee Engagement and Development, and (3) Stakeholder Relationships – and how these feed into our higher purpose.

Leadership and culture

Let’s start from the top.

Morgan Sindall Construction wants to be a standout employer, and this requires a collective effort. It sounds simple, but this is often overlooked. We believe that the responsibility of our success lies within all staff at Morgan Sindall Construction, not just our management teams.

For example, given the national scale of the company, our decentralised philosophy empowers individual business units to operate accordingly to localised needs. Our regional teams are therefore able to invest in local small and medium enterprises (SMEs), rather than using a national benefactor, to provide a positive value return whilst getting to know the communities in which we work. This was reflected in our IIP ‘Leading and Inspiring’ score, which had increased by 8.6% since 2017 – impressive, considering we were already rated ‘Gold’ standard overall.

The Morgan Sindall Construction culture has been developed specifically with our people and stakeholders in mind. Our five core values are at the heart of all we do;

  • The customer comes first – putting those we work with at the forefront of our projects, and giving back wherever possible
  • Talented people are key to our success – developing the skills of our staff through training and bringing in exciting young talent
  • Challenge the status quo – work towards efficiency and sustainability goals that will help to safeguard the wellbeing of our communities
  • Consistent achievement is the key to our future – through constant achievement we can safeguard the jobs of our staff and support our supply chain
  • Operate a decentralised philosophy – work with the communities in which we operate to boost prosperity through local investment

In the 2019 survey, our Investors in People score for ‘Living the Organisation’s Values and Behaviours’ saw an increase of 4.2% through taking a value-led approach to conducting business. Morgan Sindall Construction has established a culture that is infused throughout our workplace and workforce – so, no matter where you are in the country, whether its Cardiff or Cambridge, our sites and our staff exude the same open and friendly mannerisms!

Employee engagement and development

‘Give a man some sticks and he will make fire…’ or something like that…

Morgan Sindall Construction does everything possible to open up a range of opportunities for employees by giving them the tools they need to develop. We understand that everyone is on their own journey, and we do our best to support this at all levels.

As a strong advocate for apprenticeships and trainee programmes, Morgan Sindall Construction is always keen to take on the brightest and most ambitious young people and provide a foundation for their career through workplace learning. The business increased its graduate intake by 22% in 2018, with this figure projected to rise year-on-year.

Once again, this derives from our People-focused value of ‘Talented people are key to our success’. Can you see a running theme yet?

Similar opportunities, in addition to regular role-specific training, are also offered to existing employees as we believe that it’s never too late to learn!

To enhance engagement and give our staff more control over their own learning, the business formally opens up a ‘training request scheme’, in which people within Morgan Sindall Construction can suggest ideas for new modules to supplement their mandatory training. This is accompanied by an incentive scheme where the best ideas (even those that are not training-related) are rewarded for contributing to innovation and improving our performance. Our 2019 IIP survey highlighted consistent development in these areas through ‘Delivery of Continuous Improvement’ and ‘Recognising a Rewarding High Performance’, which both saw increases of 4.2% respectively.

It’s not all about upskilling our workforce though…

The wellbeing of our people is fundamental to good performance. We want our staff to feel comfortable and confident in all that they do, and that these benefits reflect in their home life too.

Morgan Sindall Construction operates flexible working as part of its ‘decentralised philosophy’ at many of its sites and offices to assist in creating a positive work-life balance. The business has invested in some of the best workplace accommodation to facilitate the needs of our staff, offering complementary items (such as free fruit and unlimited teas/coffees/hot drinks) on top of this!

Other notable employee benefits include… (*takes a deep breath*) a company car scheme, a work laptop and mobile, an annual ‘away day’ (paid for by the business), paid time off for medical appointments, allocated days for volunteering activities, free training courses, performance-based bonuses, access to hundreds of store and travel discounts, and much, much more…

We ensure that our people are given everything they need to perform and exceed with their career aspirations. By also providing work-based incentives, we are able to promote best practice and reward those that go above and beyond their duties. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Stakeholder relationships

In the construction industry, building strong relationships with your stakeholders is an essential part of success – particularly if you are a main contractor.

Think about it… without suppliers and subcontractors, you’d be screwed!

In order to deliver on time and within budget, all parties involved in a project must be working towards a common goal. Conflicts can be costly and can hinder your efficiency – so it’s essential to ensure we can support our stakeholders appropriately. Our 2019 Investors in People survey highlighted a 4.2% increase in ‘Creating Sustainable Success’, which further supports our commitment to stakeholder groups.

As a responsible business, we recognise that our work is the catalyst for delivering a higher purpose for our people, partners and stakeholders. Our projects offer so much scope for creating shared value for our stakeholders, and this is an area that Morgan Sindall Construction places particular emphasis on.

So how do we harness this potential? Well, it’s simple really. We work hard to go beyond what is expected.

Morgan Sindall Construction creates stakeholder value through investing in local SMEs and work closely with the customer to achieve their vision, whilst also giving back to communities through various schemes. We believe that in sharing the value locally, we are creating positive outcomes for all our stakeholders, including our staff.

Internally, Morgan Sindall Construction encourages teamwork and collaboration through establishing cross-functional relationships. With reference to our culture, we want to create productive environments in which our People can prosper. This begins with giving our staff the essential tools they need to connect with each other and external/connected stakeholders. For example, the business will always support its employees with travel commitments through our ‘Travel Desk’ platform, in which transport and accommodation can be booked ahead of time, and any work-related expenses will be covered along the way. Morgan Sindall Construction offers many incentives for their staff, which allows the business to give back by rewarding those that exceed performance expectations.

We’re keen to give back to our customers and the end user too – which is a great method for establishing lasting and memorable relationships. To support this, Morgan Sindall Construction has developed customer ‘WOW Moments’ as a way of augmenting the customer experience by implementing a surprise element into the package. For each of our projects, we will commit a portion of our budget (or time) to funding an act of social value.

Donating extra play equipment to schools, building a community dog-walking station and volunteering for local charitable causes are just a few of the fantastic gestures Morgan Sindall Construction have offered through our ‘WOW Moments’ scheme… all of which create shared value for a number of our stakeholders.

This is a cool USP, right? – Especially for a construction contractor, since you wouldn’t typically expect this.

Once established, these relationships must be maintained – and there are many factors here that are often overlooked. For example, treating all people with the respect they deserve, regardless of their role/position, is fundamental to building relationships. Stakeholder management is an essential part of how we operate on a collaborative basis.

Also, avoiding mistakes is important, but how you resolve them is even more so. If a supplier needs payment by a particular date, we’ll do our best to facilitate this. If a door handle becomes loose, we’ll sort it. If there’s a leaking roof, we’ll fix it. From the very first touchpoint to the last, our teams are well equipped to meet the needs of stakeholders quickly and effectively – and this is a crucial part of preserving customer relationships.

Morgan Sindall Construction has a vast network of stakeholders, all of which are important to us. It’s worth remembering that we would not be able to do our job if it wasn’t for them, and vice versa.

Our (higher) Purpose

At Morgan Sindall Construction, our business purpose is ‘to enrich the lives of those we touch as we create the places where people live, learn, work, play, care and create’.

We are well aware that our responsibilities stretch far beyond the boundaries of construction, touching on all aspects of modern and future life. Our work will always have a direct impact on people, and it’s an essential part of how we function to manage this effectively going forward.

As Morgan Sindall Construction continues to shape the environments of tomorrow, we are forever chasing a higher resolve in which communities can thrive sufficiently and sustainably.

So here we are… Platinum until 2022

Yes – we’re safe for now, but by no means must we let our standards drop!

We want to be a standout employer within UK industry, and therefore place great emphasis on our commitment to good people management. We know that this is an essential part of conducting good business, since a company is only as good as the people who operate it!

Let’s wrap this up

If you’ve stuck around to this point – thanks for listening! I hope you’ve learned something useful…

I just want to end by reiterating just how much work has gone into our Investors in People ‘Platinum’ accreditation. If you’ve read this whole article, hopefully you’ll have a sense as to how much our business does for people, and how this has brought about many shared benefits for Morgan Sindall Construction and its stakeholders alike.

We are by no means perfect – no business is… so we’ll continue to challenge ourselves going forward, putting people and the heart of everything we do.

The key is to never stop improving and refining the way you manage people. The world is a constantly changing place (now more quickly than ever), and it’s become a crucial part of business management to stay on top of this.

By Daniel Copeman, Morgan Sindall Construction