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Assura Plc

Striving for excellence in HR by embracing change and technology

Assura PLC is a FTSE 250 real estate investment trust, specialising in the development of NHS property. They invest, develop and manage a portfolio of primary care medical centres across the UK. Based in the North West of England they currently employ around 90 people, with employees working predominantly remotely, with compulsory office working now reduced to two days a week This culture change, brought on by the covid pandemic, is a similar picture across many industries, with even the most traditional of sectors having been forced to adapt to new and often more progressive means of working. At Assura, Belinda Lewis, Head of HR, has embraced this cultural change and knows that any business change comes with its fair share of challenges. And that being prepared for change is half the battle won. Excited by new innovation, Belinda began working with Emotie in 2021 and believes she’s found the perfect technology platform to support her in her mission to drive cultural and behavioural change across the organisation.

Experts in their field

At Assura, business performance is very much driven by maintaining an exceptional market reputation, which is backed up by the very best in technical skills across the organisation. Belinda’s ambition has always been to replicate this drive for excellence across the organisation's HR function.

The challenges: Prior to working with Emotie, Assura followed a more traditional paper based appraisal process, typical of the property sector. Such traditional systems are often considered laborious and tedious by the manager having to carry out the process and a “box ticking exercise with no outcomes” by the employee taking part. Paper driven, administrative exercises so often reinforce this negative mindset. Previously monthly one to one’s were absorbed with current workload, rather than seen as a strategic long term objective, with employee engagement measured through long-winded, time consuming annual surveys which almost immediately become out of date.

“Emotie is simple, quick and easy. It provides real time quality data which enables more meaningful conversations. The clear point of difference with Emotie is the emoji system. So simple and yet so effective. I have used a lot of online tools, but never one as powerful as this.”

Belinda Lewis, Head of HR

Tech innovation and HR working in perfect harmony

Belinda wanted innovation, quality information, real time data and insights. A ‘living dashboard that reflects how everyone is feeling “right now”. A more progressive approach, a system that inspires new behaviours and a completely different mindset. And she believes she has found it with Emotie. Belinda and her team are now able to instantly gauge reaction and feelings towards any number of topics, from new company wide initiatives through to bonus schemes and beyond. Outcomes are immediate, with real time data in turn, giving the ability to very quickly be able to see how people feel.

Integrating a new technology platform across an entire workforce is a large change project for any organisation to undertake. Belinda felt she had peace of mind throughout the process as she was not solely dealing with technical IT people, but was working with a team of like minded HR professionals at Emotie “who just get it”. Throughout the process, from initial discussions, requirement specifications, onboarding and continued support, Belinda dealt with the same high calibre team of HR professionals throughout.

Checking In

Employees “check in” using a unique emoji system, which allows for a powerful, quick and simple means of conveying their emotions. There is also a text box option, allowing the employee to accompany their emoji check in with narrative, which has a word count restriction, meaning employees need to be succinct. Both of these mechanisms ensure that Assura is able to get “to the nub of negative or positive instances immediately”

Using an app as part of an employee toolkit is not groundbreaking, but introducing an emoji based check in system was a big step change and was at first met with a little scepticism by some.

However, Belinda pushed forward and introduced Emotie across the business which enabled her to immediately link employee objectives with the annual bonus scheme. Uptake was swift and unanimous across the board and the first time everyone's reviews were completed with no chasing or prompting whatsoever.

In addition to this, feedback from using the system was resoundingly positive. Belinda acknowledges her “biggest win” is that managers within the business are saying they “would not have had that conversation were it not for Emotie”.

One to ones

One to one’s are now so much more meaningful as there is relevant, up to date data to evaluate which validates comments and perspectives. Overarching “check in” trends can be reviewed, so a manager is able to see if one particular check in is simply a bad day, or a build up of something more serious.

Having spent her career in HR, one of Belinda’s real bugbears is the idea that the HR department are somehow the policy police within the organisation. Her experience of using Emotie, has enabled her and the HR team to have access to quality data, meaning that HR processes have gone from being seen as an admin exercise into a valuable and valued part of the organisation. The amount of administration for her own team has significantly reduced, as has that of management and employees. All because Emotie requires zero effort on the part of either manager or team member. Everybody’s a winner.

What’s next for Assura and Emotie?

The future for the HR department at Assura is busy, structured and continues to be progressive. They are focussed on two clear goals: driving a high performance culture and maintaining focus on the mental health and well being of the entire team. They have many internal plans in order to achieve these goals, but they firmly believe that with the insights, visibility, reporting system and analysis available to them through Emotie, they have the tools to continue to achieve the excellence they strive for.

About Assura Plc

Assura develop, invest in and manage a portfolio of primary care medical centres across the UK. The company aim is to generate attractive financial and social returns for shareholders and wider stakeholders by investing in, developing and managing high quality, sustainable medical centres that provide crucial infrastructure for their local health economy.

“HR workload around appraisals has been reduced by 90% Simply phenomenal. Previously we would have spent days setting up meetings, coordinating people, chasing schedules and compiling all of the information”

Belinda Lewis, Head of HR

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