Building an unrivalled member experience through engagement

You’ll have seen in our new corporate plan our commitment to building an unrivalled member experience. But what does that mean in practice? Kate Maughan, Director of Member Engagement, blogs about our approach to member experience through our engagement programme.

In 2018 we carried out some research on members’ perceptions of the NHC. This gave us some great feedback: members were positive about our services, and wanted us to shout louder about our influencing work. Over the last three years we’ve certainly upped our game on influencing and cemented our position firmly in the debates on net zero and levelling up. We re-ran the member perceptions research in 2021 and the feedback from that suggests you’ve seen, and welcomed, these changes.

In both pieces of research, members said they particularly valued our engagement programme – the networks, roundtables, seminars and conferences we’ve delivered for many years – and we’re keen to ensure that the programme stays relevant, accessible and useful to you in the months and years ahead.

Building strong and deep relationships is key to an unrivalled member experience, and our engagement programme seeks to do exactly that – we bring members together to share good practice and challenges, but we also bring expertise from outside the sector, and from government departments, to create new networks and contacts for members going forward. Our networks are a real example of the bonds we’re able to create between members and external expertise – meeting on themes such as regulation, the private rented sector, homelessness, and disrepair. And through the engagement programme as a whole, we’re able to build better bonds between the NHC and you, our members, to ensure we understand your priorities and challenges and can respond in the way that works best for you.

Our membership base is unique – our 147 Northern members are made up of housing associations, ALMOs, local authorities and combined authorities. This means when we say we bring the sector together, we really do just that: building connections and bringing forward a rounded view of the North’s challenges and what the sector needs. We’re committed to making sure our full membership base is represented in our engagement programme, both as speakers and delegates, to really put our members at the forefront.

Underpinning all of this is our approach to business intelligence. Our staff team talk to a wide range of members every day, and pick up new priorities and areas of interest through the engagement programme. We ensure that we use this information in an effective way, and in a way that delivers the services you need. Our business intelligence allows us to interrogate trends and feedback from members, meaning no information gets lost – so our engagement programme is both informed by member insight, and generates it, at the same time.

In the corporate plan we also committed to three cross-cutting themes – sustainability, wellbeing and equality, diversity and inclusion – which run through everything we do.

Sustainability: the engagement programme supports our members in delivering on their net zero ambitions, but it’s also about what we aim to do as an organisation. While we’re pleased to return to some in-person events in 2022, many will remain online; for both the NHC and our members, it’s more efficient and environmentally friendly to do so. When we do hold an in-person event, you’ll see some changes – all of our event programmes are now digital and we want to be as paper-free as possible.

Wellbeing: We want to be at the forefront of championing wellbeing at work.  Since 2020 we’ve had a strong commitment to promoting wellbeing through our engagement programme, and this will continue. Where we’re holding training for NHC staff, we’re opening this up to members too – and at no charge. We’ve held sessions on menopause, mental health and resilience, and you might have spotted our upcoming session on sleep. We’re committed to the wellbeing of our staff team, and our members’ teams and customers too.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: We want to project the importance of ED&I across the membership and the sector, sharing best practice and learning. We remain committed to ensuring that speakers and contributors to our events are from diverse backgrounds and we actively monitor this. In addition, we want to create a safe space for our staff and members to discuss ED&I so we can achieve genuinely positive outcomes. Look out for our upcoming series of events with Ward Hadaway’s Employment Team – you can see more about the first event, focusing on inclusive workplaces, here.

Of course, building an unrivalled member experience goes much further than our engagement programme – it’s about developing solutions too, whether that’s through our influencing work, our Business Improvement service, or through our member-led procurement solutions – and you’ll see more on these in the coming months.

Our members are at the heart of everything we say and do. We pride ourselves on having a unique membership which allows us to be the voice of housing in the North – whatever your role, through our engagement activity we strive to provide you with an unrivalled member experience.

As ever, if you have any thoughts or feedback on our engagement programme, please don’t hesitate to contact me: