Case Study – Durham Constabulary

What made you join The WOW! Awards?

We’ve been using The WOW! Awards since 2011 because they support our vision for policing. Providing an opportunity for members of the public to acknowledge and express their gratitude where staff have gone “above and beyond” and recognises the contribution of our staff in delivering high quality services.

How did you launch it to your teams?

Background and Plan

It was felt that The WOW! Awards programme would assist in supporting the Durham Constabulary Aiming for Excellence (AFE) philosophy and assist in increasing morale, motivation and both personal and professional development.

In a time where the Constabulary faces significant challenges it was felt that staff recognition was imperative. The force then committed to The WOW! Awards and agreed that a clear Communication Plan would ensure that the programme would be rolled out to everyone and that those providing an outstanding level of service to either a member of the public or a colleague were appropriately recognised.

The Aims and Objectives

The aims and objectives of the Communication Plan were to:
• Introduce The WOW! Awards to internal and external audiences
• Inform both audiences of how they can nominate someone for The WOW! Awards
• Encourage people to make nominations
• Promote a culture of recognition across Durham Constabulary

The Target Audiences

External – Members of the public
Internal – Durham Constabulary staff

What impact has it had on your employees?

The WOW! Awards is now part of the Durham Constabulary culture and we have embraced the Awards as an accolade for our hard work and recognition to the organisation. The WOW! Awards are fantastic as our partners. Colleagues and members of the community are encouraged to nominate and contribute to the whole process. It is a holistic approach to recognition where victims, witnesses and our customers are at the heart of what’s important about providing a good service.

The WOW! Awards is a valuable tool for recognising each others strengths, in particular when our people go above and beyond, maybe a small gesture which has a huge impact on the person. It has created a ripple effect across Durham Constabulary as it’s not about being big and bold with gregarious efforts, it’s about making a difference to someone’s life by the way you make them feel; it has been quite contagious. This appears to be a common theme with the internal nominations, as without exception we are now appreciative of the small acts of kindness, humility and thoughtful appreciation of going that extra mile.

Our people don’t appear to go out on a limb to purposefully achieve a WOW! Award certificate; they just do it. If they are recognised, then that’s great. However, we do not believe that they are consciously motivated for their own gain. It is more about making a difference because they want to.

How is it benefiting management?

The WOW! Awards are an ideal tool to recognise our people. It is different to our Police Commendations as the focus is on our teams and communities. This is perfect for those people who may not be striving for promotion of rank or grade. The people that join our organisation do so as a vocation to make a difference.

It is fantastic when our communities and organisation are recognised for doing something together. It has real impact and means so much. Our leaders have really embraced The WOW! Awards, the annual Award Ceremony is always full of leaders who have nominated or who are supporting potential winners. This is a huge sign and symbol that they are important and that they are part of our culture, supporting and promoting our management philosophy of “Aiming for Excellence” in the delivery of excellent policing services in County Durham and Darlington.

Being nominated is a real accolade so it’s not just about winning. The nomination is recognition for a team or individual contribution in itself. The WOW! Awards is a credible tool for recognising our people. We can’t have monthly bonus awards or a financial incentive so it’s great to have something to show that our management really are noticing who is making a difference and to do something with that knowledge and understanding.

How are you using your nominations?

The WOW! Awards are immersed in Durham Constabulary. So much so that it is a valuable tool in relation to talent acquisition and retention. It has highlighted our quieter leaders and provided an opportunity to mentor and coach our future talent; without The WOW! Awards it could be that they may have continued their service without displaying their exceptional behaviours and qualities. Our Leadership Manager uses the Awards to spot future opportunities for our talent to shine, maybe speaking at different events, partnerships and sharing good practice across the organisation.

All of the information is collated for HR records to ensure that we retain excellence until retirement; it is a holistic process to capture every element of the recognition. Certificate winners are advertised across the organisation via our weekly electronic staff bulletin and recipient’s personal records are endorsed to permanently record this achievement.

In a time of budgetary challenges and doing more with less, it is more vital than ever to recognise our staff who are going that extra mile to solve problems, support our victims and work for our communities as part of their job, perhaps without realising they are doing something extraordinary and special.

How do you celebrate with your winners?

We enjoy a fantastic celebratory ceremony with winners involving inspirational guest speakers and members of the community that have nominated officers or staff. We have previously secured financing to offer each winner a place on an NLP (Neuro linguistic Programming) event, a four day internationally recognised qualification which is about them and for them. The organisation has benefited from the learning; however, that was not the motivation for providing such valuable tools for life. We ensure that The WOW! Awards is something which picks up momentum and keeps giving for all concerned. Durham Constabulary’s regular place amongst The WOW! Awards country-wide finalists at the annual Gala Ceremony in London is the icing on the cake, allowing our service providers to tell their story on a national stage.

What other benefits have you identified?

Increased motivation, a great energy around the organisation and community, HIMIC recognising the difference and other forces looking at what we do and why we do it.

Do you have any evidence of customer and/or employee retention?

The WOW! Awards have been an excellent investment for Durham Constabulary as they embrace our values, empower our people and promotes Durham Constabulary as a leading public sector organisation which is totally committed to providing the highest standards of service and support to its ‘customers’ as our victims and communities. The evidence raised through the nominations is confirmation to our staff that the Durham Difference is being noticed by the people who matter.