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Harnessing motivation and commitment to make a difference every day

By Debbie Dobson, Group Head of Talent Development

Originally published in the Serco People Report 2020.

It is never just a job…

Each of us in Serco is motivated by the opportunity to help tackle the complex challenges faced by our customers, whether we are contributing directly to the wellbeing of citizens and communities, facilitating the safe and efficiency movement of people and goods or protecting national and international interests.

At a high level, we are united by our Values and a shared sense of purpose. However, the relationship between an individual and their work is much deeper, more complex and more personal.

Every day, thousands of human stories unfold through the actions of our colleagues, all of whom are dedicated to creating positive and compassionate outcomes for society. This depends on their inherent motivation to give the very best and be the very best.

But attracting the best people into Serco is not enough. For the benefit of those we serve, we need to attract and retain the right people – people who care deeply about what they do, how they do it and why they do it.

We leave none of this to chance. We must be experts in what makes our people ‘tick’. However, understanding and harnessing motivation is not easy for any employer – in work and our careers, we are all driven by a multitude of shifting, evolving needs and influences. For Serco – with operations spanning dozens if not hundreds of societal and vocational cultures around the world – the challenge is even more complex.

We work hard to understand what drives and inspires our colleagues to make a difference every day – for example, through frequent surveying and consultation with specific colleague groups. By listening to them and exploring their stories and experiences, we know that Serco is rich in motivational dynamics that permeate the organisation in all dimensions. We have identified key motivational focus areas that apply across all our colleague communities.

According to our people, there are three compelling reasons to work for Serco and they are inherent in any Serco role. In summary: we offer unparalleled opportunities to work and develop with great people doing meaningful work that matters. Underpinning these key benefits are our Values – Trust, Care, Innovation and Pride – and eight further areas of value that define our colleague experience, including our commitment to recognition, our passion for diversity and our safe, supportive culture.

We apply that knowledge to improve outcomes for our colleagues, customers and service users.

For example:

  • the phenomenal success of our efforts to rapidly recruit more than 1,200 new hospital-based colleagues in the UK during the Coronavirus pandemic, in which we highlighted the critical value of these roles in helping our communities and the National Health Service to cope with Covid-19. Many posts went viral and we were oversubscribed by eager candidates within two days instead of the usual two weeks;
  • the high-calibre, passionate individuals we have attracted into our new graduate cohorts in the UK and Australia. Carefully analysing our target audience and role opportunities through a motivational lens helped us to fine-tune the programme itself, as well as our recruitment for it, to enable maximum reach and resonance with the next generation of public service leaders. The positive feedback from our new colleagues is testament to the approach; and
  • the dedicated team of more than 50 operational improvement experts from around the world who relocated to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to help transform government services at a national scale. Recognising the diverse challenges that such a move could represent for candidates – and with exacting standards for the level of experience, qualification and capability required – we were able to assemble a high-performing team by exciting them about the bigger picture and the magnitude of work they would be a part of.

Our focus now is on continuing to make the promise of rewarding work and fulfilling careers a reality for everyone in Serco – ensuring all that we offer is as vibrant, diverse and dynamic as the people we are proud to call our colleagues.