Unlocking potential, enabling change

Stonbury’s holistic strategy to build a sustainable culture of excellence.

Water companies are set to shift the dial on expectations and drive efficiencies in health, safety, wellbeing and quality. Ahead of the curve, Stonbury has embarked on a proactive long-term strategy to develop a safe, happy, and engaged workforce, delivering exceptional quality outcomes.

Recognising undesirable events

Performance-related reputation loss persists among contractors. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) data suggests that water and related sectors are plagued by approximately seven per cent of site-based employees suffering a work-related illness or injury each year. Most construction companies have implemented procedural and engineering controls to reduce the frequency of undesirable events but continue to experience a stubborn plateauing of performance.

In many companies, cultural and behavioural intervention consists of brief training courses, and issues soon recur. Stonbury believes more can be done to shift the organisational emphasis beyond the immediate cause of events and change underlying behavioural factors while implementing ongoing support to enable employees to habitualise new systems.

After reviewing AMP 7 performance, Stonbury deeply examined its existing organisational culture. Through data captured by case study analyses, surveys, and face-to-face employee consultation, Stonbury identified influences preventing desired outcomes and developed an innovative programme designed to create a collaborative, integrated, high-performing culture that improves not only safety, but all areas of the business.

Developing the solution

During Stonbury’s review of its prevailing company culture, the Safety, Health, Wellbeing, Environment and Quality (SHWEQ) team collaborated with People Services to uncover influenceable factors – such as unclear expectations, imbalanced priorities, and minimal opportunities for staff input –  that lie beneath behavioural ‘causes’ for events, such as an absence of ownership and responsibility.

The findings from Stonbury’s research led to developing the novel, industry-leading cultural and behavioural programme OPEN – Unlocking Potential and Enabling Change. Benchmarked with professionals from other industries and oversight from specialist psychologist Dr Ruth Hartley, its goal is to nurture a positive peer-pressure culture to align individual mindsets throughout a team, making correct choices easy and poorer ones difficult.

The long-term programme is designed to upskill individuals on important topics such as effective communication, collaborative working and accountability, using multi-media approaches to suit varying learning styles. Thorough integration is facilitated via ongoing team-building exercises, performance monitoring, and a daily working ‘Toolkit’ so employees can comprehend their positive impact within the workplace.

By investing in the workforce to deliver the programme via a ‘train the trainer’ approach, Stonbury has created a cohort of advocates who are also day-to-day colleagues, influencing greater buy-in and belief. Ultimately, results will be delivered by unlocking potential and enabling change in small but impactful interactions on a daily basis.

Securing lasting results

The programme, due to be rolled out in the autumn to align with historical periods of undesirable events, will be trialled this month. Throughout its development, ‘Toolkit’ elements have been introduced and ‘drip-fed’ into the business. Benefits are already tangible with increased leadership visibility, improved average audit performance, and a greater contribution to the Positive Intervention scheme.

Since shifting the focus to people rather than process, Stonbury’s worst-month accident statistics halved compared to a seven-year average, with site teams self-anticipating, diagnosing, and solving problems. Stonbury has also seen a four per cent increase in the empowerment metric during employee surveys.

The changes will have far-reaching benefits within the business, improving not only health, safety and wellbeing but also crucial factors such as staff longevity, reduced absences, and equipment damage reductions, to name a few. These factors combined elevate company performance resulting in efficient delivery that drives up value and drives down costs for clients.

The OPEN principle will be omnipresent in all departments to reinforce the understanding among its people that it is their fundamental right to feel safe, healthy, and valued within the workplace. The result is an entire workforce that is engaged, innovative and ambitious, with experts at all levels displaying a high degree of skill in communication, collaboration, and cooperation.

With the new strategy, Stonbury aims to become the leading contractor in its chosen markets, nurturing employees who are proud of what they do and offering a prescription to address the ‘sleeping sickness of complacency’ in health and safety throughout the industry. 

“We are proud to deliver a progressive step change which promotes a universal culture based on respectful challenge and personal growth.” – Adrian Young, Head of People Services

“With our holistic OPEN programme, we look forward to seeing results throughout every department.” – Adam Wells, Head of Safety, Health, Wellbeing, Environment and Quality