Balfour Beatty

The employee experience is all about consistency – it’s not an overnight fix

Located predominantly in three countries (the UK, Hong Kong, and the USA), Balfour Beatty is a large construction company with 24,500 employees. The organisation has taken a long-term view towards transforming the employee experience, upholding a long-standing partnership with Inpulse (2017–present) that has led to huge improvements in the employee experience and the wider organisation. This case study is focused on the UK division (12,000 employees).

The Challenge

Before working with Inpulse, Balfour Beatty had an engagement strategy limited to a once-per-year, lengthy survey with prescribed questions. Such an approach meant that the survey was perceived as a big data dump and annual burden which quickly went stale, hindering the development of its workforce’s engagement.

It was also important to ensure that the experience of all colleagues in Balfour Beatty’s diverse workforce could be understood.

For example, until recently, frontline workers had little or no digital access, so this was an important obstacle to tackle.

Similarly, different divisions and employee groups have different cultural and language needs to be met.

Our Solution

Firstly, a large proportion of the initial work concerned the development of an engagement strategy. This involved defining what engagement means to Balfour Beatty and its people, and developing the approach to surveying. For example, it was important to move from ‘a moment in time’ annual surveys to regular listening and ongoing conversations facilitated by company-wide surveys and business-area-specific pulse surveys. Similarly, the survey questions needed to be relevant to all workers despite the diverse workforce. Therefore, we worked closely with Balfour Beatty to tailor the survey questions to their needs. 

To overcome the foreseen possible challenges, Inpulse needed to collaborate with Balfour Beatty to decide how best to engage the executive team and create meaningful change. This has evolved, but most recently involved using Precision, Inpulse’s new programme that uses regression analysis to pinpoint what and where action needs to be taken for the greatest impact on engagement.

Then, to ensure the voice of all employees in the diverse workforce could be heard and that valid data was obtained, it was important to adapt the survey and its surrounding initiatives to different needs. This included:

  • Specific targeting to the offline workforce – QR codes, e-payslip messages, iPads distributed to sites
  • Local engagement champions to promote the survey and business forums to hear local voices and plan action post-survey
  • You Said We Did Posters to provide updates on the action from previous surveys
  • Webinars, All Hands Calls, Toolbox Talks and Videos featuring their diverse workforce to promote the survey
  • Translating the survey into different languages
  • Flexible segmentation between regions to fit cultural and legislative requirements
  • Flexibility in the transparency of survey results, to recognise the varying stages that different regions are at on their engagement journey.

The Outcome

The close partnership we have with the organisation and the work we have completed with them over the past five years has led to hugely positive outcomes, and this has continued throughout 2022 despite the cost-of-living crisis.

Firstly, the work with the senior leaders has highlighted the link between engagement and performance/safety metrics, so now engagement metrics are a go-to piece of insight for projects.

There have also been wider-reaching, transformational effects of this buy-in. Since 2017, the engagement of their workforce has increased by 34% to 78%, and 70% of the population feel completely positive about working at the company (an increase of 32% since 2017). The organisation has also seen improvements in profit across this time, highlighting the relationship between engagement and the financial performance of the organisation.

Lastly, the initiatives to optimise the survey’s response rates have been successful, with the company maintaining consistently good response rates across their business areas. Despite being a dispersed workforce with many frontline workers offline, 78% of colleagues took part in the October 2022 survey.

Results such as these clearly demonstrate the benefits of our close collaboration and partnership, and we look forward to seeing the further improvements that ensue over the coming years. In the meantime, we were delighted that the partnership won Balfour Beatty the Engage Award for Best Use of Technology in Employee Engagement 2022.

Inpulse has transformed our approach to employee engagement. They are a great team and by listening to our feedback and constantly innovating we can stay ahead. The focus on the emotional analytics was a game changer and I’d highly recommend Inpulse as a partner.”

Sam Pearce, Head of Employee Engagement, Balfour Beatty