A Q&A with Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service on their experience of using Ambit surveys
What benefits were you hoping/expective to receive?
We wanted to have a more in-depth look at the experiences of employees across different aspects of organisational life that is sometimes difficult to analyse using the normal Employee Engagement (EE) Surveys, as we have a large multi-disciplined organisation that has a wide geographical spread with 68 sites across Northern Ireland.
We felt that there was EE survey ‘fatigue’ in our organisation and even the term Employee Engagement wasn’t well-received across the service so we think using new terminology for the survey was advantageous in achieving a higher than expected response rate.
02. Why choose Ambit?
Your knowledge and awareness of Ambit Surveys?
NIFRS have been members of Skills for Justice for a number of years so we are always updated on what’s on offer and how they can support our workforce development needs. When we heard of Ambit it was a no-brainer to take advantage of the offer through our SFJ membership as employee engagement and other surveys can carry quite a high cost. This means that we can now offer more development for our organisation.
What were the key factors in supporting your decision to use Ambit?
The Ambit survey is delivered by Skills for Justice, who are the sector skills council for public emergency services, so we felt an immediate gravitation towards this for our survey.
Time and cost were also the big deciding factors. We wanted the survey to be carried out at a certain time and we availed of the benefits of Level 1 being free to members. Another factor is that we wanted more in-depth information that’s why we opted for the Level 1 & Level 2 Report which provides further analysis and a deeper dive into the results. We also needed something that worked for our organisation – some employee engagement providers use a framework that is set in stone and can not be amended. Ambit allowed us to create a bespoke survey completely aligned to our organisation. This meant that the drivers being measured were completely applicable to our organisation.
Any concerns or internal obstacles to overcome in choosing Ambit?
No obstacles as such – we just needed approval from our Executive Leadership Team to move away from the normal EE Survey approach to the Ambit tool which focuses on all aspects of organisational life.
03. Features & Benefits?
What platform or provider did you use before?
We used a well-established company based in London that specialises in carrying out EE Surveys for public and private sector organisations across the UK.
Any additional features/benefits Ambit offered compared to previously used platform(s)?
Yes, the ability to change/add/remove questions and terminology from the survey and to reduce the length of the survey really helped and this was reflected in the high response rate.
Knowledge, skills and understanding of team members and level of support offered
Excellent – the research team were incredibly knowledgeable and fantastic in guiding us through the process. It didn’t hurt that they were
very approachable and friendly! – This made for a great collaborative experience! The Skills for Justice team offer an impressive customer experience.
04. Did Ambit Deliver?
Did you amend or revisit your Organisational Development goals/objectives before setting out?
Yes, one of the many business objectives we had to deliver in the same year was to achieve our Investors in People (IIP) re-accreditation so we were able to revisit the recommendations of our previous IIP assessment and work to align Ambit around this to help with the upcoming re-accreditation.
Did Ambit deliver to your goals/expectations? Any particular stage of the journey which outperformed your expectations? Any disappointments?
Yes absolutely, we had regular meetings with the Skills for Justice team and all the objectives were agreed at the outset. No disappointments as any obstacles were quickly rectified. Quite the opposite in fact as we had the highest response rate that we’ve ever had compared to our normal EE Surveys! It was also the highest response rates that Skills for Justice have had since Ambit was developed.
Did Ambit deliver on efficiency? What was the level of benefits, support and implementation?
Absolutely, Skills for Justice worked closely with us to develop Ambit for our Service so that our specific needs were addressed. The support from the Skills for Justice team has been fantastic and they were always very patient and solution focussed when we wanted something changed or presented in a different way.
The Skills for Justice statisticians were able to tailor the questions to be more fitting for our organisation. There was also a degree of flexibility when adding or removing items that we wanted to measure in the survey. Skills for Justice were happy to make these amendments for us. They were also able to advise and guide on employee engagement and survey best practices so the knowledge they were able to impart in this process was crucial for us.
Are any of the benefits measurable? (More engaged employees, ideas for new workforce initiatives, changes in practices etc.)
Yes, the results have given us lots to consider when putting together our EE Action Plan and implementing specialist OD interventions for our workforce based on the results. The qualitative responses were especially valuable in gaining insight into views on different areas.
Your comments about Skills for Justice as a partner?
“Professional, knowledgable, flexible and customer focused.”
05. Overall Impact & Improvements
Was the overall impact and performance of Ambit as expected?
We are delighted with the work that we have done with Skills for Justice to develop this. There are some changes that we will make but we will definitely be using Ambit going forward as we are always wanting to continually improve our approach.
What are the key strengths/USPs of Ambit?
The USP is that it is free of charge (Level 1) so it is a real cost saver but also the ability to change the tool and design it according to your needs was a game-changer. We promoted Ambit as an organisational development survey and this helped with buy-in as employees genuinely want to see real improvements in the service that we deliver to the people of Northern Ireland.
Would you like to see any additional Ambit capabilities/benefits developed?
We would definitely change a few things for the next survey and we are looking closely at the reasons why employees started the survey but did not complete it, so assessing the abandonment rate is an area we can now track year on year. Accessibility is also an issue for us as half our workforce is On-Call employees that are harder to engage than our Whole-time employees. It would be great to work closely with a specialist marketing professional at Skills for Justice to develop the campaign and promotional products to help increase the response rate year on year.
What would you say to anyone thinking about using AMBIT as an employee survey tool?
“Definitely have a look at it, using the survey can only do good for your organisation. Speak to the team and give it a go!”
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