A people first approach to leadership

Jane Ashcroft CBE, Chief Executive, Anchor Hanover

As Chief Executive of England’s largest not-for-profit provider of specialist housing and care for people in later life, leading over 9,000 colleagues, people are at the heart of our organisation. They are at the forefront of care and solutions for our residents and are integral to our success.

We have invested exponentially in understanding personal drivers for colleagues and have evolved its people first approach during the pandemic based on these insights.

At the outset of the pandemic, we made a commitment at Anchor Hanover to significantly invest in supporting colleagues. Following government advice regarding social distancing and protecting older people and those at higher risk from the virus, the organisation proactively moved to protect colleagues that fell into these categories from financial hardship by using the furlough scheme. The organisation also launched a hardship scheme providing interest-free loans of up to £1,000 for colleagues and also offered enhanced sick pay (£250 a week pro rata i.e. in proportion to their contractual hours) to those who would normally only receive statutory sick pay.

With a predominantly female workforce (83%), we have also invested in a series of new initiatives to support women of all ages in the workplace beyond the pandemic. These include the provision of additional support and awareness raising among all colleagues of the impact menopause may have at work through to fertility struggles.

The pandemic has been transformative and our flexible working policy which was available for colleagues to access pre-Covid, has accelerated implementation across pockets of the business that were slow to take it up originally, delivering enhanced opportunities for a much more diverse talent pool.

Colleagues across the organisation have worked tirelessly to ensure residents continue to receive the highest levels of care throughout the pandemic, displaying excellent leadership qualities and it is right we continue to invest in them.  One key aspiration in a post pandemic environment, is that we, as a society, recognise the value of care sector careers and turn the narrative around to ensure recognition is there for all, delivering greater professional progression and further establishing a more diverse and varied workforce.

At Anchor Hanover we have a reverse mentoring scheme, a leadership programme for Black, Asian, and ethnically diverse colleagues, where participants partner with senior managers to foster deeper understanding of experiences and challenges faced by people from ethnically diverse communities. I have been fortunate in being mentored by some truly inspirational colleagues. I now currently have a mentor from our disability network. It is important to me to always learn about colleagues and our residents. As we start to look ahead to a post-pandemic world, I am spending time reflecting on the lessons learnt over the past 12 months and a salient aspect for me is the value that has been placed on the people working in our sector.

I am fully focused on getting the best out of people by understanding how they tick and over time I have found this approach generates the greatest outcomes. Our residents and their families praise our people not the amenities. Our colleagues are our greatest asset and make the biggest difference to the lives of our residents that is why we continue to adapt and invest in their futures with us. it is important to listen to, trust in, and learn from, the people that surround you.



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