INTEGRITY COUNTS AS much as skills and experience for recruiters at Calico. The social housing organisation in Burnley, Lancashire, uses behavioural interviewing techniques to identify applicants who will fit into the culture of the team of 320 staff dedicated to providing local services that change people's lives.
Staff are then coached throughout their career with Calico to help them discover their strengths and use them more at work. The workforce reports that managers help people to fulfil their potential, scoring 73%, in sixth place among mid-sized organisations. Staff have enormous confidence in Calico's senior management team, with the third best score (81%) and take inspiration from Mike Birkett, the chief executive (82%, also third).
One staff member describes Calico as "a caring organisation that works like a family: sharing, helping and nurturing". Our survey picks up on the sense that colleagues go out of their way to help each other (82%, sixth) and that employees feel they can make a valuable contribution to Calico's success (82%, eighth).
Calico grew out of the transfer of 5,000 homes from Burnley borough council in 2000 and now embraces three organisations that focus on housing, helping people to live independently and find jobs, and supporting victims of domestic abuse. From the start, all staff are recruited into a neighbourhood action team that takes a weekly walkabout to spot problems. They advise residents and join in fundraising efforts — and even help clean up the streets — to encourage Calico clients to take pride in their area. Employees feel their range of skills is fully used (62%, in third place) and say they get a buzz from their team (74%, seventh).
A home maintenance staff member, working in trades and repairs, makes an average £24,000 a year and people are happy with their pay and benefits (71%, seventh), such as subsidised sports facilities. In a series of wellbeing events in the office, health checks have tipped off a number of employees to conditions they didn't know about so they can now be treated.
Best Workplace Factors
During the last 12 months the Senior Management Team has undertaken the ILM 3 in workplace coaching which has led to lots of staff being coached across the business. Between April and Sept 2011 the team undertook 80 coaching sessions over 123 hours! Their CEO is very approachable and has an open door policy. Staff feel they can talk to him and they would not hesitate to do so. He takes an active interest in all members of staff and ensures he sees them all regularly which means he knows everyone who works for Calico and what they do. He consults with staff before any major decision and makes sure staff have the opportunity to provide their feedback in relation to where the company is heading. In June 2011 the IIP Assessor quoted in his executive summary that one of the reasons we were accredited with IIP Gold was because of the visible and inspirational leadership demonstrated by the CEO.
Giving Something Back
All employees that are recruited into the business have a standard objective in their role which is introduced at the recruitment and selection stage. The objective is to be a member of a 'Neighbourhood Action Team'. These teams serve the community that Calico tenants live in and the teams work together to improve the Neighbourhoods and make Burnley a better place to live. This includes activities such as neighbourhood parties, fundraising and promoting Calico's services, street cleaning, along with a weekly neighbourhood walkabout to identify anything such as fly tipping, dog fouling and graffiti and then take action with the relevant agencies. This giving something back approach ensures that all their employees whether they work in Finance or Repairs take an active role in trying to improve the local communities.
Calico Stars is the recognition and reward scheme for Calico employees. Managers can reward staff for outstanding achievement or other reasons such as marriage, milestone birthday. “STARS” stand for Staff & Teams Award & Recognition Scheme The calico star reward is unique in that it can be nominated by colleagues, managers or customers to any member of staff who have demonstrated going the "extra mile". The reward given is always personal to the individual and the flexibility of the scheme allows for the award to be given at the point that the good work occurs. The on the spot nature of the awards, not only boosts individual morale but it is also very motivating for the rest of the team. Awards range from a bottle of wine to a spa day.