Instigating change and shaping the HR agenda

The Organisation

For more than a century, Larking Gowen LLP has been giving a trusted, reliable and friendly accountancy and advisory service to businesses and private clients across East Anglia.

With eight private practice partnership offices in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, Larking Gowen LLP covers a diverse range of sectors with specialist teams across a number of industry specialisms, as well as in corporate finance, tax, insolvency, business advisory and audit.

“We wanted to get as much feedback as possible so that we could build a case for making any changes needed. However, there is always an issue with getting people to participate in surveys, especially in a professional services firm.” 
Amanda Ninham, Human Resources Manager, Larking Gowen

The Challenge

When Larking Gowen participated in Best Employers Eastern Region in 2016, the relatively new HR team was looking for an opportunity to gather information from the 320 employees and to use the findings to begin shaping the HR agenda.

While the confidential Best Employers Eastern Region employee survey provided the opportunity to discover current levels of employee satisfaction, the HR team knew they could be faced with a degree of scepticism from employees who had completed surveys before and not seen any outcomes.


One of Larking Gowen’s values is “Passion for our People”. Managing Partner Jon Woolston’s key objective is making Larking Gowen an employer of choice and he was a strong advocate of the Best Employers Eastern Region survey to instigate change. His endorsement and the support of the Partners collectively was key in driving participation in the survey.  

Amanda added: “We wanted employees to see that the survey had a clear purpose and that it was not just another ‘HR thing’. Jon’s support was essential in engaging staff to take part and it added a visual commitment that changes would be made as a result.”

“When leaders ask people for their honest opinion and explain the reasons for taking part in the survey, they can really help to drive participation. Employees feel they are contributing to a bigger vision and understand why they need to take part.” 
Lynn Walters, Executive Director, Pure


The findings of the survey were used to shape the HR plan, the whole of which is focused on the value of Passion for our People and designed to help achieve the ambition of being an employer of choice.

Amanda said: “We took all the employee feedback, including about our culture, values and leadership, and looked at how we could bring everything together in one holistic approach which would reinforce our value of ‘passion for our people’. We used the findings to help shape several employee initiatives, including our total wellbeing programme. This has been a great catalyst for delivering results across all elements of workplace culture, by focussing on ensuring our employees are happy, healthy and supported.”

The HR team is continuing to run follow up pulse surveys, aligned to the themes of the Best Employers Eastern Region, to maintain employee interaction and to gather instant feedback on new initiatives. 

Amanda said: “Each month we ask five questions related to a Best Employers Eastern Region survey topic and ask employees to rate their current level of happiness. We publish the results within a week of the survey closing. The Employee Forum meet quarterly with the Board to review the data and agree any actions. This shows our commitment to making Larking Gowen LLP a great place to work and is a transparent way of tracking improvement in our engagement scores. Our people can see the benefits of contributing to the surveys and that in turn encourages participation. Keeping the topics linked to the Best Employer’s key themes will also help us to take part again seamlessly in the future and to have a better chance of winning an award.”

Lynn Walters, Executive Director at Pure, co-founders with eras Ltd of Best Employers Eastern Region, added: “Larking Gowen’s experience of using the Best Employers Eastern Region survey as a starting point to inform strategic planning is a great example of why we developed the initiative. To be able to actively evolve workplace culture, employers first need to understand their current engagement levels and give their employees a voice. It also highlights how support from senior management can make a big difference. When leaders ask people for their honest opinion and explain the reasons for taking part in the survey, they can really help to drive participation. Employees feel they are contributing to a bigger vision and understand why they need to take part.”

 Becky Wilson profile picture

Written by

Becky Wilson

As a Business Director, Becky has over 25 years’ recruitment experience. She joined Pure in 2010, and specialises in recruiting HR professionals at all levels across Norfolk. Becky also co-founded HR Energy, which provides networking and training opportunities to HR professionals.

Related Jobs

We will send you around one email a month with latest news and resources from us. Unsubscribe at any time.