It might sound obvious that people are the key to an organisation’s success, but getting there and creating a winning culture where staff and customers feel valued and everyone works towards a shared goal isn’t easy. Here Mark Thompson, director of people development and organisation at Gateshead College, explains the journey they’ve been on

Becoming the number one college in the country for our student achievement rates didn’t happen overnight, it took a lot of hard work, some very strong leadership and a great team effort. We’ve worked hard to create a culture where not only our students can do well but where our staff feel valued and respected.

We all spend such a high proportion of our lives at work and if we aren’t happy in our jobs we won’t stay, or if we do, we won’t be productive.

Recognising and rewarding staff is one way to make them feel valued. Here at the college, we’re careful to celebrate the achievements of our staff in a variety of different ways. And they don’t need to be grand or expensive, a simple thank you can really make someone’s day and it’s important not to lose sight
of this.

We recruit well, taking the time to get the right people for the job, and we invest in our workforce, developing their skills and supporting them to try new things.

However, this investment in skills and people development is only one side of the story. It’s a well-known fact that companies that focus on the health and wellbeing of their staff are generally more respected and valued by employees, which can lead to increased productivity, better workforce retention rates and a reduction in staff absenteeism.

At Gateshead College, the mental health of our staff has been high on our agenda for a number of years.

We want all employees and students to feel comfortable discussing their mental health and ask for support if needed.

All of our employees have completed a mental health awareness qualification so they’re able to spot the signs if a student or colleague is struggling.

In addition, we have a team of mental health champions tasked with supporting our whole team with practical initiatives. It’s been a gradual process over a number of years, but we’ve always remained clear that this was an issue we weren’t going to shy away from, and I think we’re now seeing real benefits.

Of course the job of developing, training and supporting staff is never done, but I’m very proud of the progress we’ve made and the real impact it’s had, not only on the happiness of our workforce but on the success of our business.

It’s this that puts us in a strong position to support other businesses. We’ve been, and still are, on our own journey of harnessing our people power so we understand the challenges, how training can make a difference and where best to focus your efforts.

To find out more about Gateshead College and the courses on offer, visit:

Gateshead College