Best Employers

A Best Employers’ story: IPRS

IPRS headway

IPRS Group is a specialist organisation offering clinical products and services to the public and private sectors. The company’s made up of five subsidiaries and has 400 employers.

IPRS first took part in Best Employers in 2018 then again in 2021 when they won the Best Health and Pharmaceuticals award, and platinum accreditation. Lisa Simcock, their HR Director, was a guest speaker at our Best Employers’ Q&A webinar. She sat down with Paul Sheldrake, our Director, to talk about launching their 2023 survey, and how others can get the best from Best Employers.

How are you feeling about the next survey?

Last time we carried out the Best Employers’ survey, we were just emerging from the pandemic. We’d run a lot of shorter surveys during that time, so we had a good idea of how our workforce was feeling and what the results were likely to be. But our company’s grown a lot since, and several of our people weren’t with us then. So we’re really not sure what the results are going to look like this time.

You managed to get 90 per cent of your staff to take part in the last survey. How did you get such great response rates?

We started by setting ourselves a target of 80 per cent participation. Then we got our marketing team involved and really went on a marketing offensive! I created a schedule of activities with quite a lot of ideas, several of which needed investment, which was approved by the senior team. I then did various presentations for our managers to get them excited about Best Employers. This included talking about:

  • the history of our relationship with Pure, [co-creators] eras and [sponsor] Birketts, and our history with the programme itself
  • what engagement is and why it’s important
  • why we wanted to do the survey, and how we performed previously
  • practical details about the survey – how long it takes to fill in, is it confidential, etc.

We then did a countdown to the survey, and appointed champions, to really build momentum and excitement. On the day, it was launched by the head of the business and accompanied by a video full of information about the programme. We also did some marketing around the benefits of taking part, which included a ‘You said, we did’ document showing the improvements we’d made after the 2018 survey. This was all about making people aware that if they didn’t fill it in, we wouldn’t be able to make positive changes.

We also wanted to give people some extra incentives to complete the survey. So we sent out a KitKat and teabag to everyone’s home addresses (we were all still working from home at this point), and ran a draw giving people who did so the chance to win a prize. Plus we donated £2 to our chosen charity for every response.

Timing is also really important when it comes to getting a high response rate – so we had to remember to factor in holidays as well. Our survey was open for three weeks, and we sent out updates about how we were progressing during that time to encourage more people to fill it in.

Finally, at the end of the survey, we sent out thank you messages which also told them how much they’d helped us raise for the charity.

What did you do after the survey closed?

We ran the survey in July, then sent the results to senior teams in August. It’s really important to only have a small gap between finishing the survey and publishing the feedback. I’m lucky to have a great analyst on staff who collated the results into a report for each team. These compared the current results with previous ones, showing where we’d improved and where we hadn’t done so well. Managers then presented the results to their teams and created action plans. Then three or four months later we looked at how they’re progressing against these.

We also paid lots of attention to the free text part of the survey, where people can write what they want in their own words. If there was something we really liked we’d put it in the reports as well (anonymously, of course). We encouraged managers to address these comments, and celebrate the good things.

Are there any specific changes you’ve made as a result of the survey?

A lot of people complained about the state of our offices. So we’re moving! We’re off to a new purpose-built, more sustainable, location with electric car chargers and solar panels, and a better environment for our people.

Other improvements we’ve made include:

  • bringing in mental-health first-aiders
  • offering menopause training, and appointing a menopause champion
  • holding more online events, including Christmas and Easter quizzes, and virtual BBQs and afternoon teas
  • buying new equipment like toasters and coffee machines.

How did you find the accreditation process?

There was a lot of information to pull together (which is as it should be). If you’re fortunate enough to be invited to apply for accreditation, I recommend putting some time aside to find all the supporting evidence. Make sure you give it your full focus for the best chance of getting it.

The work was worth it though – getting our Best Employers’ accreditation and winning an award has helped us so much. For example, we’re using it to attract more talent which is a big part of our expansion plans.

What are your top tips for organisations taking part in Best Employers for the first time?

Do everything you can to keep the survey at the top of people’s minds while it’s open. It’s really important to show them that you’re interested in getting their feedback and that you’re going to do something about it. It’s also important to manage expectations by addressing what you can’t do.

Confidentiality is another vital factor – make it really clear to people that you won’t be able to identify their individual responses.

You should also think about different members of your workforce and where they are. You might need to put specific processes in place so everyone can access the survey – try to be as inclusive and accessible as you can.

Finally, remember that you can’t please everybody. Even bad feedback is a positive, because that’s what leads to improvements.

Want to know more?

At the Best Employers Eastern Region awards conference, we'll be bringing businesses across our region together to share knowledge, experiences and build lasting relationships. Hear more Best Employer stories from organisations like IPRS. Book your place today.

 Judith Pugh profile picture

Written by

Judith Pugh

Judith joined Pure in 2017 and is responsible for marketing the business, building our marketing strategy and delivering campaigns. Judith’s worked in marketing for more than 20 years across a range of industries – from health and fitness, horticulture, GIS software, education and now recruitment.

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