Drive Wales – Finalist Case Study

Why did you enter The Investors in People Awards 2020?

Whilst Drive has held Investors in People accreditation for a long time, the new standards meant we could see where we had to put in a lot more work to develop our people strategy, introduce new initiatives and really take time to listen to staff ideas and take on board their feedback; we were actually really blown away to come out as a very strong Silver – on just our second assessment under the new standards.   Frankly, we were happy to leave it at that!   However, the email landed in my inbox about throwing our hat in the ring for the Awards and I thought, “do you know what, let’s do it”!   I didn’t tell any our staff, only my fellow SMT colleagues, so as not to raise any hopes but I crossed my fingers that we would get as far as being a finalist – especially when we have just gone through the most difficult period in all of our working lives; and for social care it has been absolutely challenging.  One year into my employment at Drive, I am so impressed with its uniqueness in terms of family support and the work it does with the people we support; our staff are so passionate and committed I have not come across this before in 37 years in the workplace so I am pretty proud to work here and now I understand why our staff say the same. 

What does it mean to you and your people to be a finalist? 

For our staff, when I announced we were finalists, the effect was absolutely wonderful in terms of how they felt about themselves, their colleagues, the work we do with the people we support (and their families) and the sense of community which has long been built here at Drive.  The majority of staff have used the word ‘pride’ to me and they say they feel proud to have built a ‘silver’ workplace – but also pride to tell their mates down the pub etc ‘I work for Drive’.   We feel it will highlight our name in the difficult social care sector we work in, especially now with the effects of COVID on our sector, and people will start to recognise our brand : not just what we do – other people do that too – but its the WAY that we do it and THE PEOPLE we employ to do it, that is at the heart of the Drive brand and that is what makes us stand out.   We hope being a part of the IIP Community will enhance how we operate and as a finalist – well it is just WOW really! 

What is the standout point in your application? 

As far as our application and the stand out points, I have mentioned already I think the sheer challenge of working during the pandemic, on the front line, full PPE everyday etc – you know our staff just got on and did the job they are so passionate about; finding alternative and creative ways to make sure the people we support stayed as physically and as mentally active as possible.   To some extent, it forced us to review certain things and, as a result, we now have vastly improved communications through daily and weekly briefings, better use of 365/Microsoft Teams, online forums, staff discussion groups, coffee mornings, virtual activities etc – the majority of which will remain once the pandemic is over as both staff (office as well as front line) and the people we support are all telling us this really works for them – so, we have listened and are shaping our new communication strategy for 2021 onwards which includes a blend of the old ‘all in one room together’ meeting and the online versions.   Our staff have really understood now the agile working idea and are already putting in place things that work for them in their individual teams, as well as for Drive as a whole – making an effort everyday through storytelling, sharing photos, sharing ideas etc.  Drive as an organisation has gone through a huge amount of change including leadership and to still achieve the great things we have done to obtain Silver, together with already being well on our way to achieve Gold in 2023 – I think puts us up there with our finalist peers.   I am so looking forward to hearing their great stories too and sharing ideas with one another as our own little support network if you like! 

What would it mean to win? 

To win would just be amazing.   Of course, I would be immensely proud to be heading up HR in a winning organisation, but since I did not join until a year ago, all the hard work getting us here was down to our staff.  So, I want to win for them.   I want them to know what can be achieved when we work together to common goals.   I want them to know that all of us are responsible for making Drive such as great place to work and we have loads more we can do!  If we won, it would give them the energy and motivation to get into gear for our next journey – to achieve Gold status.   I want it as a legacy too – we have just lost our founder and former CEO and the workforce are devastated and grieving – if I could ‘bring the trophy home’ if you like – they’d want to put it in pride of place in our reception and feel they have done it for him, just as much as for our new CEO.