Building an inclusive, passionate, multi-generational team

As one of the largest independent property valuation and advisory groups in Australia, Herron Todd White, like many professional services organisations, are trying to build an inclusive, passionate, multi-generational team. After measuring employee engagement levels for eight years, Herron Todd White decided they needed to implement a more systematic approach to tracking and improving engagement across all levels of the organisation.

Brendon Hulcombe, CEO at Herron Todd White says, “We were receiving the insight for the organisation as a whole, which is great in terms of our national programs and initiatives, but we were missing the ‘on the ground’ day-to-day concerns. We couldn’t make effective changes because we weren't really sure where the issues were.”

Herron Todd White found Culture Amp delivered what they needed: an easy-to use, agile system which provided greater insights and customisable reporting. They introduced the new tool to their 900 employees in November 2015.

Employee Engagement at 73%

At the core of Herron Todd White’s culture are a set of values that bring out the best in their people. Hulcombe says, “We have very strong embedded values within the group and they are weaved into everything that we do: our recruitment process, regular communication, the criteria for both local and national awards.”

Switching to Culture Amp has allowed Herron Todd White to customise questions to encourage discussion around how connected and aligned employees feel to the culture, vision and overall strategic direction of the organisation. “This greater insight takes our engagement beyond just an annual measure and turns it into a continuous, all-inclusive part of our business strategy,” Hulcombe says.

Employees said the survey was easier and faster to complete because the wording of questions was friendlier and tied to their experiences. “Our staff were saying, ‘this makes sense, I enjoy the questions this time,’” says Hulcombe who also rated the mobile capability as a big plus. “Our valuers work in the field all day, everyday and so they could complete the new engagement survey out of the office on their portable devices like their smart mobile phones,” he says.

Employee Confidence in Leaders 10% Above Benchmark

Operating with a mostly flat structure, business leaders at Herron Todd White are very involved on a day-to-day basis. There are no traditional levels of hierarchy and everyone is empowered to ask questions and make their own decisions. Hulcombe says leaders at Herron Todd White are a naturally caring group of people with a high level of respect and trust in employees. “That is important for us as leadership has in the past, consistently recorded really strong results in our engagement surveys,” says Hulcombe.

Hulcombe believes the driver analysis is one of the beneficial features on the engagement survey that has made a big difference for the leadership team. “To be able to drill down to a local level to identify what’s actually going on (and still maintain participant confidentiality), and then being provided the opportunity to have discussions and conversations around what’s not working so well – that is what is going to make a real difference both to our leaders and teams at the coalface,” he says.

Learning and Development Opportunities

Feedback from recent engagement surveys has put the spotlight on Herron Todd White managing expectations and communicating the role of learning and development within the organisation. As a result, focus has been placed on providing more learning and development programs, ensuring employees stay up to date in their field and supported in their career development.

Ensuring that people are able to learn and develop without climbing a career ladder is a priority. While career progression from a role perspective isn’t common because of their flat structure, Herron Todd White offers opportunities to support career development in the form of experience across different specialty areas, mentoring and involvement in stretch projects like the Essential Leaders Program, a learning and development initiative run internally that incorporates key components around leadership.

Walking into any Herron Todd White office in Australia, you’ll get a sense of their connected culture. You’ll experience a team of motivated professionals, confident of the quality of their work and proud to be part of an industry leading organisation. And underpinning this is a strong camaraderie, a friendliness and genuine support of each other.

Focusing on employee engagement for nearly a decade, Herron Todd White is now empowered by Culture Amp to identify and measure new initiatives across the company that will help them make informed people decisions, strengthen their culture and further build an organisation that is exciting, fulfilling and meaningful.