Novus Blog

a helping hand from novus

OFFERING A ‘HELPING HAND’ TO COLLEAGUES DURING LOCKDOWNS

  25 NOVEMBER, 2020      CORE VALUES
As the construction sector remains open, Novus have been working through the latest lockdown. For those colleagues working from home at the moment, the importance of keeping morale high and maintaining the feeling of community cannot be overstated. In this article, we would like to share some of the initiatives that Novus have introduced to offer a ‘Helping Hand’ to colleagues during periods of lockdown this year. Before the virus Although working remotely has become the new normal amongst office workers in the UK and indeed our own business service departments, feelings of loneliness can be associated with this way of working. It is understandable, in a pre-covid world, it was estimated that people spent around 10 years of their life at work - in the office. During that time, it is only natural that strong working relationships and indeed friendships are formed and maintained by regular face-to-face contact. This daily face-to-face social interaction unquestionably aids in building the strong team that underpins organisational culture. And by extension, one could make the argument that the same strength simply cannot be achieved remotely, negatively affecting the culture within the business as a consequence. Smells like team spirit With this in mind, the first lockdown in March 2020 posed the challenge of maintaining the team spirit remotely, as one of our key values at Novus is to “create great teams.” It was quickly identified that this was a crucial area for support during lockdown, making sure our people still feel part of a team was a priority. A Helping Hand from Novus Regular communication is key and to that end, every week our communications team issue an internal newsletter called the “Helping Hand” to all colleagues in Novus. This weekly emailer features a wealth of helpful articles, videos, and tips, and company updates designed at helping everyone in the Novus community survive and thrive during lockdown. Under the categories A Time to Talk, A Time to Learn, A Time to Celebrate, A Time to Share, and A Time to Have Fun, colleagues will find help on improving physical wellbeing and mental health, strategies to manage finances, and even activities to try with the kids during half term. Originally introduced during the March lockdown, the Helping Hand was well received and experienced a high level of engagement. As such, the newsletter has been revived for the latest second lockdown. Finger on the pulse Our way of asking the people within Novus, “How are you doing?” In essence keeping our ‘finger on the pulse’ of the business. It is well established that feedback from colleagues is really important, after all they are the life blood of any organisation. In this time of change and flux, it feels like the perfect time to ask the people within the Novus community how the business can change to make working life better. That’s why we release a Pulse survey on a quarterly basis, as we believe that all colleagues should have something valuable to contribute and their voices and opinions should be heard. We’ve asked colleagues a whole host of questions this year - their opinions on remote working, what they’ve been up to during lockdown, their goals and aspirations, their concerns, and if there are any training requirements (to name just a few). Saying thanks and being visible Our CEO Alan Nixon and senior management team have remained visible over the course of 2020, providing video updates to the business and giving thanks for the hard work of colleagues. As with a lot of communications at Novus, we believe that putting a face/name/real person to a message really helps ground a piece of communication in reality and adds credibility. Additionally, in the absence of face-to-face contact, this is the next best thing to being spoken to directly. The current situation has encouraged our management team to innovate and adopt a more digital approach in daily activities. An example of this is found in our Head of Operations Charlie Cooley (Scotland and North East) who provides a weekly video update to his team via YouTube – giving that visible and personal touch to his leadership. Highlighting success and positive news The compliments and positive feedback that Novus receive from customers and tenants really are a testament to the hard work, dedication, and care that Novus colleagues put into their work on a daily basis. Particularly in 2020, we have increased the frequency of posting compliments via our social media channels as it gives everyone within Novus a lift, demonstrating and celebrating the high standard of service that our colleagues are providing – at the same time, this serves as another avenue of recognition for our hard working people.
working in a kitchen in a mask

PRIORITISING TENANTS IN A PANDEMIC

  18 NOVEMBER, 2020      CORE VALUES , INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
Supporting and liaising with tenants has always been a primary pillar on which we’ve based our business – kindness, respect, and good service should be a given, not an added ‘nice-to-have’. Working in homes during the pandemic During the coronavirus crisis, showing respect and kindness has rung true more than any other time. The safety and wellbeing of the people whose homes we work in has always been of paramount importance – but perhaps never more so than now. Our specialist customer care team always lead from the front and they’ve taken the crisis in their stride. Dedicated customer liaison officers are responsible for considering and helping meet the needs of everyone we work around, as well as being a helpful single point of contact for residents. Collaborating with our supply chain It’s always important to be collaborative, but the past few months have required additional togetherness right through the supply chain to ensure that we’re operating as safely as possible. As we’ve come to recognise over 2020, Covid-19 has generated significant confusion, with changing guidelines and grey areas creating a worrying level of uncertainty. That’s why the very first thing we do on any project is communicate clearly and open a dialogue with all tenants. It’s vital that residents are fully informed about the works, what we do and how we’ll work with them. This ensures safety of residents and workers, as well as everyone’s peace of mind. Working tidily and cleanly Once we’re working in the home, we’ve gone to another level of the quality service that comes as standard. We’re still as tidy as ever, cleaning as we go. Only this time, we’re armed with more anti-bacterial wipes to clean down every surface and extra bottles of hand sanitiser at our side. Also, our operatives are working only with their own tools where possible, as well as travelling separately to ensure that contact is to a minimum. We’re always two metres away from the tenants, but try not to lose any of our personal style. It’s our priority to make sure that residents feel at ease when we’re working in their home, and even though we’re taking extra care in everyone’s home, it’s important that we don’t dawdle. Being punctual and prompt Making home improvements can sometimes be inconvenient for a short while, so we always make sure we’re punctual, prompt with our work and prepared to hit the ground running on every job. The sooner we get the job done, the sooner tenants can enjoy the improvements. Homes are our safe haven, particularly during times of crises, and so our work is just as important as it ever has been. While these are strange times, all of us are coming together to keep everything as normal as we can – no matter how ‘new’ it is. Repairs since lockdown Novus have been working inside customers' homes throughout the national lockdowns. 34 weeks on since the first national lockdown in March 2020 and we have repaired almost 50,000 homes (at the time of writing). That equates to 292 per (working) day, 36 per (working) hour, and approximately 1 home every 2 minutes. It's testament to the confidence that tenants have shown in Novus and our operatives to conduct themselves safely, efficiently and, respectfully.
Apprentice

APPRENTICE OF THE YEAR INTERVIEW

  21 APRIL, 2020      AWARDS , CAREERS , CORE VALUES
After scooping the Novus Apprentice of the Year award at this year’s Excellence Awards, Kelvin, Senior Contracts Manager and Neil, Site Supervisor sat down with Aaron, Multi-Trades Apprentice to find out a little bit more about this young rising star Why did you choose Novus to do your apprenticeship? I chose Novus to do my apprenticeship because I discussed the opportunity with my family and looked at all the other opportunities that were being offered, I liked that the company had a strong presence within the town I live in and the work they have done within my local area. What attracted you to your profession? I chose the multi-trade apprenticeship because I wanted to learn most of the trades in the construction industry. I liked the fact that I would get a good understanding about all the different trades that Novus had to offer; which I feel will benefit myself throughout my life and career. What are your career aspirations? My career aspirations are to become a fully qualified maintenance worker within Novus, another aspiration is to become a site manager or a site supervisor for the company. What have you most enjoyed about your apprenticeship so far? I have mostly enjoyed learning about the different trades in the company and learning about how to run a site as a site manager. Is there any job you particularly enjoyed working on this year? The job I have enjoyed working on most this year is a Wrexham roofing contract; this is because I have learnt a great deal about re-roofing and how to run a site to a high standard. Earlier in my apprenticeship I went from site-to-site until Kelvin took me to one side and asked how I would feel about going on the Roofing contract with Neil as my mentor. I jumped at the chance and since then, have not looked back. Kelvin has spent a day a month with me on-site and in the office for me to demonstrate what I have learnt the past month. Kelvin has fully supported me in my learning, alongside Neil, who has shown me the correct way to run a site, has supervised me doing site inductions and tool box talks, and always takes his time to go over things with me if I don’t understand them. Jay, the TLO, has also spent time showing me what she does, how to liaise with the tenants, and what forms need to be completed before we do the job. In turn, I’ve enjoyed helping Jay with all the fundraising events she does and even was asked to be the Novus Bear at one of these events. I feel that I have achieved more in the last 18 months than I ever did before and want to thank all the team on the roofing contract for the education and skills I have picked along the way. What advice would you give to any new apprentices? The advice I would give to any new apprentices is to get stuck in with whoever you are working with and don't be afraid to ask questions! If you are ever unsure or want to know something specific, or if things are ever not going well in your apprenticeship, then would encourage you to speak to your manager. They will always do their best to help, as Kelvin and Neil have helped and supported me over the course of my apprenticeship. I would like to Thank Novus for the opportunity they have given me. Want to learn more about the Novus apprenticeship scheme? To register your interest in becoming a Novus apprentice, please contact us via our online form or send your CV to recruitment@novussolutions.co.uk
2019 in review for Novus

6 HIGHLIGHTS FROM A SUCCESSFUL 2019 FOR NOVUS

  17 MARCH, 2020      COMPANY UPDATES , CORE VALUES
Novus can count the final year of the previous decade as a highly successful one. Here, we’ve picked out 6 of our biggest highlights from 2019.   1.       Alan Nixon is Appointed CEO of Novus 2019 saw Alan Nixon take the reigns as CEO for Novus. Alan is a highly enthusiastic, experienced and distinguished construction professional with over 30 years of construction industry experience. In the years leading up to this appointment, Alan fulfilled several Board level positions within the Group before eventually taking his place as CEO. This appointment is a significant milestone in the history of Novus and was therefore a key highlight of 2019.   2.       Strong Financial Performance Despite difficult market conditions in 2019, the company reported greater-than-projected revenue of £162 Million. The financial result represents another impressive year of growth for Novus, without any borrowing and retaining profit. This can be considered an outstanding result for the company. In part, this achievement is illustrative of Novus’s stability in the market and sustainable growth model. Where other contractors within the construction industry are seemingly struggling, Novus are going from strength-to-strength and anticipate further growth in 2020. An ambitious but achievable revenue target of £180 million has been set. In a sector where contractors are folding at an alarming rate , the financial stability, sensible, and sustainable business practices of Novus are the ensuring that the company thrives and is ultimately able to deliver on its promises to clients.   3.       Reinforcement of our Company Values Novus is built on a bedrock of strong family values, having been established by the Seddon brothers in 1897 (learn more about the history of Novus here) and it is a family-run business still today with the shareholders being made up of the John Seddon family. 2019 saw Sophie Seddon become a shareholder. Incredibly, Sophie represents the 5th generation of the Seddon family to be directly involved in company ownership. It is from this strong sense of family that the strong moral and ethical code of conduct and employee inclusivity is derived. Within the company, this code of ethics is referred to as “The Novus Way” – a way of working that permeates every facet of the organisation, making the company credible, reliable and trustworthy. Never more was the commitment to these values reinforced than in 2019 through the development of the Novus “Shield”. To ensure that these qualities are enacted in all areas of the business, in 2019, all Novus colleagues committed to upholding the attitudes emblemised in “The Shield” framework. Over the course of 2019, a total 250 Novus colleagues and 150 of our subcontractors attended the nationwide training roadshows. Through the company’s commitment to its customers came the “It’s Our Job” initiative. Customer service is enshrined in the Novus pillars of conduct and that’s why as part of this campaign, the company trained every colleague throughout the business in customer service excellence, irrespective of position or role. Every Novus team member was asked to commit to the ‘Valuing Our Customer Pledge” a promise to provide each and every customer with a great experience. Going forward, Novus are committed to being a market leader in customer experience. Feedback is always welcome and if you have any to share, please do get in touch via our online contact form. Additionally, 2019 saw significant developments in the Health, Safety & Wellbeing policies of Novus. Headed up by new Novus recruit Adrian Honeywell, the SHEQ (Safety, Health, Environment and Quality) initiative spawned activities created with the sole aim of caring for colleagues, customers, and communities. Internal strength in Compliance has led to our service to clients being expanded. As this work stream in particular is a present and high-profile issue in wider society, it is an area where Novus can offer additional value to clients now and in the future.   4.       Social Value and Corporate Social Responsibility As a socially responsible and morally driven business, Novus are continually getting involved in social value projects throughout the UK, working with local community groups and charities nationwide. Novus are committed to becoming a leader in Corporate Social Responsibility within the sector. In 2019, Novus fended off competition from some of the biggest names in our industry to win two prestigious awards in the shape of the CSR Initiative of the Year Award from – Construction News Talent Awards and The Community Engagement Award at the National Building Awards. These accolades were awarded for Novus’s flagship CSR initiative: the “Big 5 Campaign”, a venture that saw 5 deserving community projects receive £20,000 each to help towards the cost of the renovation works. (see all the videos from the BIG 5 Campaign here). In addition, December 2019 saw Novus get into the festive spirit as each site encouraged to “Give a Gift” of time and/or money to the homeless and less fortunate. Charities that tackle homelessness and poverty benefitted from the campaign, alongside care homes and various children’s charities all were the recipients of gifts from Novus colleagues.   As charitable and social value initiatives are at the heart of operations at Novus, we will continue to work closely with our partners and local communities to help make lives better for the people who live there. Keep up-to-date with our CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) activities by visiting the CSR section of the Novus website.   5.       Boosting Career Progression and Development Opportunities In 2019, Novus worked hard to build a legacy where people can live, work, and thrive; recognising that its workforce are the lifeblood of the business. Through robust succession planning and a culture of developing talent from within, came new opportunities for colleagues to grow and progress within the business. Novus is focussed on becoming organisation that continually nurtures talent and facilitates career progression. This tradition of talent development is showcased by the high volume of long serving colleagues who have moved into more senior roles within the business in recent times. Seven new Operations Managers were appointed alongside Steve Fitt as Senior Operations Manager, Sam Frame, Chris Murphy, and Gary Clay became Heads of Operations, and Sophie Seddon moved into a senior leadership role as Head of Client Engagement and Communications. Additionally, Novus also proved to be competitive in the recruitment market in 2019, attracting experienced and talented individuals to fill newly created positions in the business, such as Adrian Honeywell (Head of SHEQ) and Hannah O’Brien (Marketing Communications Manager). The performance and sustainable growth of the company has enabled Novus to invest in strengthening all areas of the business. The employment and training of apprentices is in the DNA of the company and is seen as vitally important to the future of the business and the industry as a whole. Novus has been employing apprentices since 1938 and are renown for the quality of their training. Last year, Novus employed 18 apprentices across a range of disciplines including Joinery and Multi-Trades. You can hear from 3 apprentices from the class of 2019 in our blog article here. Novus is committed to becoming a great place to work and creating great teams is a key area of focus for the business. To that end, Novus launched an employee engagement survey, which was designed to garner valuable input from colleagues across all areas of the organisation.  There was a massive response that saw 74% of the total workforce give their feedback and incite improvements in areas of operation such as internal communication.   6.       Contract Wins Novus remains a commercially attractive organisation as was demonstrated by some big contract wins, extensions and success stories. New contracts with Johnnie Johnson, South Derbyshire, New Forrest, NHS Boston and Lincoln, Midland Heart, Fortior Homes, Swindon Borough Council, and Unitas, along with the contract extension with Manchester University all represented significant business for the company. These examples are just a flavour of the major wins that Novus achieved in 2019, all leading contributing towards the ultimate strategic intent of the company. The level of repeat business and customer retention was particularly pleasing, as it demonstrates our focus on nurturing client relationships and commitment to being a leader in customer experience.     2019 proved to be a great year for Novus and these were some of many highlights for the business. We are hopeful that 2020 proves to be even more successful.
PRESS OFFICE
Hannah O'Brien
Telephone: 07854 781631
Email: hannah.obrien@novussolutions.co.uk
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