Pickering and Ferens Homes Case Study
Why Actus Performance Management is perfect for Housing Associations.
Leeds Federated is a housing association with around 4,300 properties across Leeds, Wakefield and North Yorkshire. They provide high-quality housing and work with local communities with the aim of making neighbourhoods places people want to live and others want to move to. They pride themselves on promoting equality of access for all illustrated by their vision:
Leeds Federated are also focused on providing the best value to their tenants and other customers and are keen to promote innovation in a range of ways, including the use of technology to improve the range and value of services they provide beyond just housing.
Initially looking for a 360 feedback tool, Megan Henderson, HR Manager at the time, came across Actus Software accidentally and remembers being ‘won over’ by CEO of Actus Software, Lucinda Carney who demonstrated to Megan how the System could fit for them. Leeds Federated had an appraisal process in place but they wanted to move paper-based appraisals online and were really keen to embed a culture of regular one-to-one’s – again demonstrating vision, as this was before the concept of continuous performance conversations was commonplace.
The relationship with Actus has evolved since 2013 with Leeds Federated having used the system in many ways. For example, to embed a detailed competency framework within their appraisal and to use the recognition tool to improve engagement levels. The culture of regular 1:1’s supported by Actus is well-established now many years on and with regular engagement calls, the relationship is one of a partnership where they are continuously looking for new ways to get the most from the system. Megan and her Team regularly attend the product webinars to support them in getting the most out of the system, whilst a number of staff are also due to start one of our training programmes: Actus Hybrid Management Training.
Megan has also previously taken advantage of one of the free Organisational Development Reviews with a senior Actus Consultant. This enabled her to reflect on the effectiveness of their current appraisal form and revise it proactively, with the help of Actus. This subtle switch of the appraisal form changed the focus from being retrospective to more future-focused and rebranding appraisals as ‘Achievement Conversations’.
One of the reasons that Megan continues to advocate Actus is the flexibility and people-focused approach of both the system and the company. She has always found the accessibility and responsiveness of the Support Team hugely valuable, particularly the personal approach when dealing with requests or issues.
As an organisation, Leeds Federated needs to ensure it is providing value and operating efficiently. Now Head of Corporate Services, Megan feels able to justify the investment in Actus compared to other HR modules when challenged for a number of reasons outlined below.
Configurability and Flexibility – As outlined above, it is far more cost-effective to tweak an already established technology like Actus Software to support cultural goals than it is to start again.
Built-in People Focus – Actus is designed by people with an HR background and this shows in many places, which means the system can be adapted to support hot topics like wellbeing, mental health and resilience, as well as longer-term goals like career aspirations.
Visibility and Alignment – For a future-focused organisation like Leeds Federated, it is important for the Leadership Team to be able to easily visualise top-level performance which Actus supports through the alignment of individual objectives with top-level goals.
“Working with Actus to think about what we needed from appraisal going forwards and adapting it accordingly meant that we had already defined how to tweak the Actus system to support the changing requirements of the organisation.
This meant that when managers came to talk to us, we already had a solution for them that was ready to go which they loved!”
– Megan Henderson, Leeds FederatedTake a look at Actus
The performance management system has been refreshed with the new ‘Achievement Conversation’ focus and one-to-one’s continue to work well, as do other aspects of Actus such as career conversations, objectives and milestones. The Recognition and Enquire Module has helped to bring the values to life. The flexibility of the system has allowed them to use the 360 feedback, appraisal and one-to-one templates in different ways across the business to meet the unique needs of different teams and departments:
“All teams use the system a little differently to meet their needs but are aligned to the same overall process, that is part of the value of Actus.” says Megan.
Megan goes on to say ‘ The ability to be able to adapt the software to meet your organisations needs and the ease in which the system is set up and the ease with which people can use it and understand what they need to do has helped us and is one of the reasons I have recommended the system to a number of other housing associations.’