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Job swaps give staff a glimpse of life behind the scenes - First Ark

Job swaps give staff a glimpse of life behind the scenes

Tony Cahill

Frontline staff found out what life is like at the top when they spent a morning with their company directors.

The employees at the First Ark Group, joined the executive director team in strategic meetings finding out about how they drive the organisation forward.

It was part of a Job Swap scheme, where the directors were paired with a frontline member of staff so they could experience each other’s daily work.

All five directors have been getting their hands dirty sampling the day-to-day lives of employees.

In return front line staff got the opportunity to attend various high-level strategic meetings between directors and external partners and witness how the Group is working hard to make a difference to its communities.

First Ark organised the job swaps to give decision makers a chance to understand the challenges frontline staff face day-to-day, and also for staff to understand the processes that go on behind the scenes.

Estate services operative John Batey joined Executive Director of Customers and Communities Sheila Tolley at a senior leadership team meeting where they discussed some of the challenges tenants are facing and how they can improve things for them, especially around the issue of welfare reform.

Sheila has already donned a caretaker’s uniform to spend the morning helping John with some of his cleaning duties at Knowsley Housing Trust's communal blocks and outdoor areas.

She said: “It was useful to get feedback from John and other frontline employees who have taken part in the job swaps. John took an active part in the discussions at the team meeting and offered some really useful insights.”

Gas heating engineer Dave Coogan joined Director of Business Services Jason Ridley in a number of senior meetings, while Jason spent a morning helping Dave as he carried out gas safety checks at tenants’ properties.

Dave said the swap was a great opportunity to learn about life at executive level, as these are the positions he aspires to. “I was very fortunate to have a job swap with somebody who had a real positive effect on me and it has further cemented my long-term goals within the company.”

Housing officer Ann Lowe shadowed Executive Director of Asset Management Ian Thomson in stakeholder meetings with developers and the local authority.

Ian previously joined Ann in a busy day of customer visits, tackling a range of issues around repairs, rent arrears and tenants with coping problems.

Ann said: “The best thing was having the opportunity to show what I do on a daily basis to an executive director who could realistically do something about the challenges we face. I also realised how much work goes on behind the scenes that as neighbourhood officers we don’t generally get to see.”

Executive Director of Commercial Services Tony Cahill spent time with Kirkby One Stop Shop assistant Debbie Cooney, helping to deal with tenant queries.

Debbie said: “Working on the front counter, you don’t realise that so much is going on behind the scenes to make improvements and help us provide a better service.”

Finally Chief Executive Bob Taylor was paired with sheltered housing scheme manager Louise Croft, finding out about the work she does supporting vulnerable tenants in Huyton while she gained an insight into what it is like to lead the organisation.

Bob said: “Both our front line staff and executive directors have taken a great deal from this experience and it is something we will look to repeat in the future.

“It gives us the opportunity to see first hand what improvements could be made to enhance our services even further and is a chance to make sure staff feel valued for the great jobs that they do.”

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