Multinational healthcare and consumer goods business RB unveiled plans in 2014 to open a £105 million state-of-the-art science and innovation Centre of Excellence (COE) in Hull. Representing the largest single investment in RB’s history, the facility was seen as a catalyst for cultural change. Historically change at RB has been driven top down and delivering the new vision required a fresh approach - a participative programme – delivered in collaboration with engagement and leadership specialist Cirrus.
The programme had three measurable objectives: to increase employee retention from 76% pre-project to 82% by project conclusion in 2017, to attract 20% more applications from potential recruits and to be sustainable without support from Cirrus.
A mixture of interviews and workshops resulted in outputs, captured by an illustrator, to develop a visual ‘Pathway to Excellence’ based on four jointly agreed enablers: enabling collaboration, creating community, growing reputation and business partnering. Forty peer champions were identified and they delivered the final set of workshops. A COE brand was developed, used across materials including digital engagement platform Strata, which enables employees to collaborate, access toolkits and upload posts on big ideas.
"An ROI of 27% based solely on increased employee retention and reduced absenteeism"
The programme has smashed the metrics, with employee retention up to 85%, 30% more applications from potential recruits, and reduced absence rates – all of which have sustained since programme end. RB calculates a return on investment of 27% based solely on increased employee retention and reduced absenteeism.
Moreover, it has led to an agile working environment, including home working, when previously there was a culture of ‘presenteeism’. And it has positively influenced culture in other sites, with the team sharing best practice with colleagues in Germany, Italy, the USA and India.