Highways England

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VA Consultants have been working systemically with Highways England since 2016 to support the organisation’s development from being a civil service organisation to becoming a government-owned company that has greater autonomy for its budget and performance. This organisational transformation has created a high degree of turbulence, change and performance pressure for Highways England at an individual and organisational level with topics of performance, personal resilience and wellbeing becoming significant for leaders and the organisation’s culture.  We have partnered with Highways England, consulting and designing solutions that empower their leaders and people to drive the ongoing culture transformation required to transition the organisation towards a new way of operating, being and performing.

The organisation has a focus on 3 imperatives of Safety, Delivery Customer, underpinned by a values framework that is shaping a culture focused on increased levels of individual and collective performance, and embedding a new attitude and practice relating to high performance.

VA Consultants have been working with the organisation across 3 core strands:

  • Executive Team Development: The team effectiveness process has helped the team to clarify its vision and purpose, and support team members in bringing to life the new values and vision of the organisation through role modelling authentic behaviours and making them ‘cultural norms’.
  • Management Development: The core purpose of this was to provide managers with the mindset and skills to empower themselves and their teams to live the Highways England Values and to create a high performing culture in their part of the organisation through an extensive programme of 2-day workshops.
  • Organisation Culture Change: The initiative was conceived to create alignment and focus for all employees by helping them to connect their job to the ‘why’ ‘how and ‘what’ of the organisation; and most importantly, why and how their role makes a difference to organisation performance.

Key statistics…

  • 99% of participants agreed that they enjoyed the programme experience
  • 99% of people benefitted from the blend of experiences, theory and discussions
  • 100% of people are committed to having more performance conversations
  • 100% of people agreed that the consultant added value to their learning experience

Key Results…

There has been a dramatic impact on the culture at a critical time. In just one year, the foundations for the organisation to progress with a common language on values and performance has been established. Wider benefits have also been delivered:

  • Performance issues are now more effectively managed, with the average number of grievances halved
  • People leaving the business reduced by 40% resulting in reduced recruitment costs of more than £500,000 to-date
  • Staff engagement increased by eight percentage points and enablement increased by 3 percentage points
  • 81% agreed or strongly agreed that managers now better role-model the organisation’s values and effective behaviours
  • 81% agreed or strongly agreed that they feel more confident in enabling high performance in others and 78% have more frequent conversations with their direct reports about wellbeing
  • Improved delivery of targets and KPI performance
  • Cost reductions due to more effective use of time with suppliers
  • Increased engagement with supply chain, which now better understands the organisation’s values and imperatives

Highways England commented: ‘The MDP has created a buzz within the organisation, the way people approach performance conversations has changed, the language people are using is different and in due course we will be able to highlight the tangible business benefits that have been linked to the success of the MDP.’

San Johal, HR Director commented: ‘A key benefit of the Exec team development work has been our ability as a team to start to recognise different types of problems and the deploy the most effective strategy for solving them…Another has been the articulation and recognition of the Exec team as each of our ‘A team’ rather than maybe our functional teams…Overall, the Exec team development work has left us in a better place than where we started, particularly in relation to trust, alignment, respect for one another, cohesion and effectiveness.’

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