Productivity focussed improvement programmes can carry a risk of improving productivity of the organisation at the detriment of employee morale and engagement. Taking a people-led change approach, focusing first on fostering a positive team culture and boosting employee morale, results in employees feeling more engaged with their work and driving better outcomes themselves. This ultimately leads to an improvement in performance alongside upticks in employee morale and scores on employee engagement surveys. We have seen this first hand with our clients, where a 15% uplift in an association with a positive team culture was delivered following the implementation of Baringa's team-by-team programme. 

We also see significant improvements in productivity as a result of empowering teams to own their own performance and drive improvement in the areas they care most about. In a recent rollout example, which we’ll explore further here, we were able to help a public sector case working function tackle a significant backlog problem – doubling the teams productivity, delivering a 37% improvement in cases cleared and driving reductions in the backlog, despite a tripling of demand!

A recent example

In 2023 Baringa was asked to support an operational case-working service in a large central government organisation. This organisation was in a very challenging position following years of underinvestment, uncertainty and multiple restructures. The service had received critical feedback on service effectiveness through external quality assurance.

The case backlog had grown more than three times its historic level over the previous two years, and was continuing to grow rapidly due to an increase in demand of the service. Baringa started working with the team in June 2023  with a remit to analyse the team’s operations, propose improvements, and support their implementation.

The transformation project took place over two phases.

In the first phase, Baringa worked with the team to conduct an end-to-end review of the team’s operations that examined how the department was set up to deliver.

Working with team leaders and case workers, they focused on understanding the blockers to delivering required outcomes. The review identified key bottlenecks, uncovered by reviewing processes, systems and data used across the organisation. Focus groups of officials  were set up to understand culture, responsibilities and staff experience. Working alongside the team to identify opportunities  to improve enabled the team to feel more in control of their work and created the energy and excitement needed to drive the necessary changes beyond Baringa’s time with the team.

Following this work, Baringa developed an analytical model of the service’s expected demand and operations and proposed 16 key solutions for transforming the operations of the team.

This was followed by second phase, where Baringa worked with the team to develop a ‘model office’ as an effective way to pilot the new ways of working. With the support and coaching from Baringa colleagues, the team developed a system where they could test, learn and iterate new ways of working.

Among the initiatives that were tested in the model office were:

  • Redesigning and simplifying processes by identifying and reducing the number of unnecessary assurance checks by around 60%.
  • Revamping the operating model by organising case workers into small, self-sufficient teams with focused management support and simplifying the service’s GOV.UK application form to improve the quality of information provided to case workers.
  • Improved performance and people management by redesigning the team’s individual performance targets so that they scale up gradually over a caseworker’s first year, instead of over only four weeks. 

Once these changes had been tested and proven, using the advocates created in the model office, they were rolled out to the wider team alongside improvements to the team’s management capability through overhauling their approach to collecting, analysing and applying management information. The key to the successful scaling of the changes was undoubtedly having the model office team work with their colleagues as peers as opposed to a team of independent advisors rolling out an approach.

Giving the team more control to decide how they work and influence the wider organisation’s ways of working creates genuine empowerment and helps sustain ownership for the transformed ways of working. Change management is easier, as the positive sentiment spreads via the involved colleagues who become the future change agents.

These changes led to a significant improvement in organisational performance. Over a 12-week period, the model office out-performed the rest of the service in cases per day by around 37%.

As a result, the backlog decreased in the last three months of 2023, despite demand having tripled on historic volumes. If these improvements are maintained, the organisation’s backlog is now forecast to be around one-third the size, compared to if productivity had remained at the level of early 2023.

Unlocking better performance across the organisation

This is not the only organisation where such improvements have been unlocked. In another government organisation, Baringa’s Team-by-Team approach has deployed a series of high impact, low disruption productivity improvements that could be delivered at pace. These included:

  • Developing bespoke content to address the organisations main challenges of change fatigue, low staff morale and resilience, and inexperienced team leaders
  • Providing coaching to the management team in the service line
  • Working closely with business change colleagues to review core operational processes and provided a set of actionable recommendations on how they could be improved to empower staff and uplift performance.

Again, these initiatives unlocked better performance across the organisation. More teams hit their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) within deadline following the implementation of the programme, alongside hitting a record number of case closures. This also led to an increase in team morale and engagement with a 15% increase in staff feeling like they were part of a positive team culture within eight weeks, and 95% of training attendees rating the sessions as helpful to them.

In most organisations the people who know most about the problems that customers are experiencing, and have ideas on how to improve the services they receive, are those working to deliver those services . This is especially true when working in environments where complex policy and processes are prevalent, which is very typical of government organisations.

However, many civil servants do not feel they can influence the way they work and to help make the changes they know could boost productivity.

Baringa’s team-by-team approach can unlock this change though bottom-up cultural change and improvement, which enables team leaders to get the best performance out of their people. It equips team members with the tools to identify and solve problems at their own level, building the skills and capability to take quick, positive actions to improve performance. 

To find out how Baringa could help your organisation implement a team-by-team approach, get in touch with our experts. 

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