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How Dorset Council are Continuously Shaping the Future of Work With Employee Voice

Dorset Council wanted a flexible way of listening to their entire workforce after a large merger. With Hive’s employee voice platform, they’ve created brand new ways of working by empowering their people to influence the decisions they made—resulting in:

20% increase in trust leadership
+23 points rise in eNPS
12% boost in pride

“With Hive, there’s a beneficial relationship due to the knowledge and expertise that People Science share with us. They’ve helped us develop our understanding of employee engagement from a different perspective, by always working alongside us to share their thoughts on how we can improve everything from our survey questions to action-planning with results. Hive is committed to truly understanding our organisation and supporting us in shaping a strategy that’s personalised to what we want to achieve.”

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David Patrick,

Organisational Development Lead

The Background

Dorset Council formed in 2019 when six authorities merged into one. After the merger, they were looking for a fresh way of engaging with their new 4,500-strong workforce. As one of Dorset’s largest employers, its diverse teams sit across a wide range of roles and responsibilities. To listen to even the hardest-to-reach employees, they needed a flexible and leading approach—so they began their new employee voice strategy, launching Hive in February 2020.
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The Research

The team kicked things off with a baseline engagement survey in February 2020 to get a sense of how their people were feeling after the restructure. But then COVID hit. They had to react quickly, and with the support of Hive’s People Science team, Dorset Council moved to more frequent, themed pulse surveying to keep an eye on their people during times of extreme change and uncertainty. Thrust into a global pandemic, they had to check in on everything from employee wellbeing to manager relationships to make sure their people were okay. One thing was clear from the off: not enough people fully trusted the leadership or were proud to work for Dorset Council. But with some employees having to work from home while others were on the front line throughout the pandemic—and little time to prepare for either—that was bound to be a huge challenge…

The Feedback

Armed with their baseline engagement data, the team knew they needed to focus on the future to create ways of working that better suited their people. And they also knew this had to come directly from employees; they didn’t want to dictate how, where and when their people work. That posed a few questions:
  1. How could Dorset Council deliver an even better service to customers by working in a flexible and modern way
  2. How could they become an employer of choice that people aspire to work for?
  3. How could they make sure that those employees who can’t work remotely aren’t overlooked?

And with all of the above in mind, the Dorset Workplace surveying project was launched.

Working alongside Hive’s People Science team, they refined their question-set to make sure they got the most relevant and actionable insight from their people. The aim was to understand exactly how they want to work—along with any challenges they might face in a hybrid-working setting.

In their first future of work survey, they found that:

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90%

of respondents wanted to work flexibly for one day or more

70%

of respondents felt the majority of their roles could be carried out effectively away from a traditional workplace

61%

of respondents felt that “less time commuting” was a key benefit of working flexibly, improving work-life balance

55%

of respondents faced challenges feeling isolated from their colleagues when working remotely
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The Change

Next came action-planning. Dorset Council began using the feedback gathered from their people to influence the Dorset Workplace project.

Using the key findings from their employee survey, the team implemented a number of key changes to their ways of working, including:

  1. Developing team charters to make sure everyone would be working with a shared vision
  2. Making sure remote workers had the resources they needed to deliver services to customers effectively
  3. Re-thinking the office space and creating a more collaborative environment for people to come together
  4. Giving people the freedom to work collaboratively in different environments—from coffee shops to hybrid meetings
  5. Improving communication from senior leadership across the organisation to increase openness and transparency

“Hive People Science provides us with an unbiased view of our survey results, helping us to uncover certain threads or themes that we might not necessarily see ourselves. The level of analysis they do for us gives us the internal confidence to talk through our results with the organisation and trust that we’re headed in the right direction.”

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Sophie Barton,

Organisational Development Consultant

The Outcome

Two years after the world of work went into crisis mode and one year after their first Dorset Workplace survey, their Time to Check In survey launched in March 2022.

The results showed:

20% increase in trust leadership
+23 points rise in eNPS
12% boost in pride

Well on their way to becoming Dorset’s employer of choice, their Organisational Development team are always looking to learn and improve the way the organisation can do things; they’ll continue to adapt their approach and use the power of employee voice to improve their ways of working.

And we can’t wait to see what comes next.

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