News Article ————

Collegiate UK are in the running for 2 UK Company Culture Awards

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Published Date 12.04.2024

Collegiate UK is an operator and manager of student accommodation with over 10,800 beds in 21 cities across the UK. Having acquired and merged five businesses during Covid, in 2022, we embarked on a mission to create and launch our vision, purpose and values. The Executive Team wanted to create a common goal and a positive culture that allowed everyone within the business to work as one team, pulling together in the same direction. 

The vision, purpose and values had to have broad appeal, resonating with every role and person in the business, based in cities across the UK. What’s more, this initiative had to appeal to our customer base and clients: from students and parents to suppliers and investors.  

With these goals in mind, we set two key objectives for the initiative. 

The people. 

We knew that our team delivers commitment, creativity, adaptability, intellect, passion, engagement, curiosity and intensity​ and that these would be essential elements of the company’s evolving culture. 

The first key objective was that 36 sites were aligned to the shared purpose, vision and values to ensure a consistent delivery across the business. An integrated approach was also needed in the recruiting process to ensure new candidates aligned with the company’s values to ensure an appropriate fit with the business for the purposes of retention.   

The business strategy.

The Executive Team knew that a defined culture needed to align with the overall business strategy if either was to be a success. This strategic alignment was not only important to create direction for employees, but investors and customers too. To attract and retain investment, investors increasingly seek to ensure employees and businesses are aligned and that their values match the businesses they work with.  

All work was to be undertaken on a minimal budget. 

The journey.

Collegiate UK teamed up with an external specialist who conducted workshops with the Executive Team to map out what the purpose, vision and values could be. These values were then stress tested and presented to working groups across the business where feedback was taken before being fed back to the Executive Team, so that the final versions, themes and artwork could be created.  

Our new purpose vision and values were initially soft launched at the Collegiate UK staff awards in March 2023, with an official launch on a Town Hall (All Company) Teams meeting.  This was followed by the creation of an explanatory video featuring members of the Executive Team which was circulated to all colleagues.  Various initiatives then followed to further engage our teams, these included: 

  • A UK wide roadshow where members of the Executive Team met with all colleagues and presented the new purpose, vision and values. This included interactive workshops with tasks based around the new values and what behaviours could be attributed to each.  Culminating with everyone creating a commitment card on how they would like to develop their skills in-line with the new initiative.
  • A social media fun quiz looking at which value each team member represents.
  • New starter inductions were also introduced that shared the company’s values and culture. 

Ongoing activity and adoption by our team 

Collegiate UK sought to embed the culture by celebrating employee successes and introducing regular touch points during the year.  These included: 

  • Performance reviews (KPI’s and objectives based on the values). 
  • Collegiate UK Company awards (Awards categories and nominations aligned with values). 
  • Viva Engage (internal communication channel), colleagues demonstrating living the values in social posts. 

A sense of the company culture was also shared with Collegiate UK’s residents, allowing them to understand how important the values are and even buy into them themselves through their purchasing decisions.  The values were shared on site in the following ways: 

  • Moving in week – activities for new residents based around values. 
  • Student Experience – sites introducing events based on values. 
  • Artwork at the Central Support office and at sites to reinforce values messaging. 

The results

Statistics from the employee survey taken before the vision, purpose and values showed a real disengagement between the business and its people. Just 47% of employees provided an answer to ‘what do you think our purpose is?’ with a wide range in answers.  

In comparison, when feedback was taken after the roadshows, respondents almost doubled and when asked ‘how well do you feel you understand Collegiate UK’s vision, purpose and values?’ 1(not at all) – 5 (excellent understanding), the results were: 

  • 80% of respondents gave a score of 5 (Excellent understanding) 
  • 99% of respondents gave a score of above 4 (Good/Excellent understanding) 

In fact, in a pulse survey conducted in January 2024, 84% of respondents said that they were able to name at least 4 of our 5 core values, demonstrating the success of the initiative. What’s more, colleagues have been encouraged to really use the company values, bringing their own stance and personalities to student sites and showing how the values have been brought to life. 

The future.

Collegiate UK has built its vision, purpose and values from the ground up.  In the space of less than a year, it has transformed the company culture, bringing together five different business cultures to adopt a combined set of values and creating a vision that encompasses a positive culture for the entire team, its residents, clients and everyone that interacts with the business as a whole.    

This one team approach was also rolled out across 36 locations and 21 cities all within a four-month period.  By identifying and building a company culture, Collegiate UK has improved staff satisfaction levels as more employees buy into, and are recruited for, the company culture.   

Collegiate UK’s values have also helped in securing future investment as investors better understand and look to align with the company’s vision and values.  In doing so, Collegiate UK has the people and direction in place to extend operations into more UK sites in the future. 

The UK Company Culture Awards

“Collegiate UK has been shortlisted for two awards for our Vision, Purpose and Values project, Best Cultural Transformation Initiative and Internal Communications Campaign of the Year.  Given all that we set out to achieve, we are absolutely delighted to be recognised for the hard work, commitment and collaboration of the entire team.”

Shaan Clarke – Marketing Director

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