Reinvigorating our people and company by taking our values off the wall and embedding them into the culture.

February 2017

“When I started at Southern Cross in 2004 it was not what you would call a values-based organisation. There were organisational values but they sat on the wall and seemed at odds with the core of the Southern Cross culture. 

- Peter Tynan, CEO Southern Cross Health Society

The key challenge we faced was that we were operating in silos. Business units competed against each other instead of pulling together. We saw the immediate need to establish a common purpose and a single core set of values that would serve us well into the future, and rally everyone for this cause.

To start that journey in 2009 we embarked upon an initial phase with the staff to determine what our values were and bring those to life. At this point, we enlisted the help of The Zone as they had done this process with great success at a large international Telco and came highly recommended. The Zone helped us through the process of filtering a large number of values our staff had identified as important to them. We did this through a number of workshops over a two month period. We distilled a mass of values down to 5 core values then layered the behaviours that went with each value.

A team of Values Champions were engaged to work with The Zone. They were picked from our people to roll the values out across the organisation. The Values Champions were our facilitators and were initially trained by The Zone. They moved through the organisation ensuring that every person and every business unit were on exactly the same page.

Southern Cross 01

Our values give us a common platform to rely on. In difficult times it gives people a compass to help answer the question, “when in doubt what do I do?” answer “you act from the values”.

The Vision – to become a Healthier Society – and the key strategies to achieve this were developed by the management group and endorsed by the Board.

We knew we had two of the three pieces of the puzzle in place – a good strong values set generated from our people and a strong strategic platform endorsed by our Board – all we had to do was live it.

What then happened was nothing short of transformational. The entire staff got behind not just where we headed but how we were going to get there. At the end of our first year on the journey our engagement scores lifted substantially.

The work around the values, mission and vision meant the business was in a much stronger position for everyone – our people, our members and our customers. It is now clearly one of the major achievements for the business during my time as CEO and one I’m proud of. It’s set into the DNA and embedded in everything we do – how we recruit, talent identification, performance management, training, how we operate in our contact centre and how we approach our marketing.

The “That’s Us” set of values are truly at the heart of the organisation. We have shifted from a “silo” organisation to being all together with the unifying set of values and a clear vision and mission.

Not only was this experience transformational but it was completely enjoyable. Our people were engaged at every step and took ownership for creating the change to a happier and healthier workplace. Our reputation grew as a good place to work and recruiting the best talent became easier.

Southern Cross 02

Our value of “Standing strong” helps with holding your ground in tough times and challenging when needed.

Our values give us a common platform to rely on. When making decisions in the business you can refer to the values to help guide in decision making. This helps with consistency in behaviour and consistency in dealing with challenges. In difficult times it gives people a compass to help answer the question, “when in doubt what do I do?” answer “you act from the values”.

Teamwork is critical, which is our value of “All together”- when faced with problems people are more inclined to work the problem together than being an individual and tough it out. Our value of “Standing strong” helps with holding your ground in tough times and challenging when needed, these two values helped us immensely through all the tough times in the GFC. Where conflicts arose we dealt with them as a team and were able to challenge each other which definitely helps in good times as well as bad.

The Zone processes and tools were at the core of our transformation and connecting with our people to deliver this internally was powerful. Train the Trainer was the programme to upskill our Values Ambassadors to deliver the Values and new tools to support them internally. These people became complete advocates for the values and guided everyone through the journey of learning new ways to work together positively and productively. When the Values champions returned to their day jobs, they were reinforcing all the attributes and behaviours every day. Allowing time for them to become facilitators was really valuable.

Southern Cross Health Society can comfortably be called a Values Based Organisation as is evidenced in being a finalist in the “IBM Kenexa Best Places To Work” competition for 6 years. We shifted engagement scores from low to high 80s and maintained it over a seven year period. That really demonstrates sustainable culture change.

"Getting Southern Cross into the zone has been a tremendous success for its people and its members.”