Ovo Energy has seen rapid growth since its inception in 2009, from approximately 100 employees to over 1,300. Throughout, a key aim has been to strive to be a top employer, explains Libby Townsend, HR director at Ovo. “As well as customer satisfaction, making this a great place to work is still very much first and foremost our biggest people objective,” she says.
Ovo uses an annual engagement survey, with a tried and tested set of 12 questions that allow for easy tracking of trends. Any manager with five or more direct reports who complete the survey is able to access a full breakdown, to allow the information to be used effectively at all levels.
In addition to annual check-ups, the organisation uses pulse-style surveys to measure engagement outside of the annual cycle, and to look into specific topics or areas of focus. For example, it runs a My Rewards pulse to gather feedback following the year’s annual benefits window. These surveys are centrally coordinated, using Google forms, by the HR and communications departments.
Feedback is also gathered monthly, via established and well-attended employee forums, and additional focus groups are run as required, averaging out to one approximately every quarter.
One of the most substantial developments to arise due to this system of annual surveys, pulse checks and open discussion was the change from a 40 hour standard working week, down to 37.5 with no financial penalties for employees. “We made a meaningful change,” says Townsend. “That’s an example of where we have listened to the feedback and not just paid lip service to it.”
Another aspect of employee experience that Ovo found to be influencing engagement was the leadership relationship. With this in mind, it launched Ovo University in 2013, specialising in leadership engagement, which became ILM accredited in early 2017.
Through these surveys and focus groups, Ovo has been able to tailor its benefits package to a young workforce. This includes a focus on wellbeing with a package that includes free fruit and breakfast, and a subsidised onsite gym, Joanna Fairweather, rewards manager at Ovo adds: “That’s very much where the financial wellbeing focus came from. Our core demographic being under 25, people wanted more help saving and making a material difference to their finances in a way which wasn’t exclusively about pensions.”
Combining both the quantitative measures of surveys and pulses with the qualitative approach of employee forums is important for the organisation. As Fairweather adds: “The key for our benefits strategy was around engaging employees by putting them at the heart of what we were going to develop and what new benefits we added.”