Graham Hough receiving his Spirit of Sodexo Award

Less than 3 weeks remaining!

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Over the past year, Sodexo colleagues have pulled together to achieve amazing things. The Spirit of Sodexo Awards programme gives us a great opportunity to recognise people from all levels. With 23 different categories to choose from, and a new online form, it is easier to nominate than ever before!

With less than three weeks to go until nominations close, we caught up with last year's Progress award winner, Graham Hough from Queen’s Hospital in Romford. Graham talks to us about his experience with the Spirit of Sodexo Awards, and what it meant to him to be nominated.

Graham, can you tell us what it feels like being nominated for a Spirit of Sodexo Award?

To be nominated was a feeling of pride because I wasn’t expecting it. I have worked in HR for 20 years now and at Queen’s Hospital for four years.

People are my job, and throughout my four years at Sodexo, my main driver has been wanting people to enjoy coming to work. Because I won an award related to engagement, that tells me that as a management team we are succeeding in that aim. We've eradicated short term sickness in the largest service areas. My team have evidenced their willingness to work and their resilience by the bucket-load during this pandemic. I have realised that I am more resilient than I previously thought. I have loved being in the thick of it during this pandemic, coming to work on site every day to support all my colleagues.

So how does winning make me feel? I said 'proud', But I would also add 'valued' and 'humbled' – it is a team effort! I am lucky to work for two directors who allow me to drive the HR people agenda the way I want to, and allow HR to be at the heart of all areas of the business. That continues some 14 months on after winning at the Spirit of Sodexo Awards.

I remember on the night that many of my colleagues were also nominated for awards. We were all so proud of each other; it was a team effort. Our Retail team won Growth award and Queens Hospital won Site of the Year. I’ve now got these three awards with me in my office! It really buoyed the team at Queen’s Hospital. We are determined to do well again this year!

What were you nominated for and how did it feel to be recognised by a colleague in this way?

I was nominated for the Progress award. The Progress was down to the fact we launched engagement meetings two years ago with our frontline teams. This was because our sickness rating was staying stubbornly high, wouldn’t budge, and we didn’t know why - so we needed to do something about it.

When we launched these engagement meetings, I was able to talk openly and confidentially to our frontline teams and manage their expectations to create a working environment that they would want to be in. Once the teams understood that we were listening and trying to solve their issues - such as helping them get free tea and coffee, and getting them new uniforms for summer - suddenly after months and months of work we finally started to see the sickness level drop. Our HR Director Greg Austin told us that at one point in November 2019 the sickness levels at Queens Hospital had dropped to the lowest out of all the healthcare sites that are using the same measurement model.

When you win an award like this you know that you are making a difference. For example, our sickness levels are very low during the middle of a pandemic at one of the UK’s busiest Covid-19 hospitals, which I believe is due to the engagement groups that we ran. People are choosing to come to work and to help our colleagues. So, what we have effectively done by running the engagement meetings is we have eradicated the short term sickness within our site and made a welcoming working environment.

What are your words of advice to anyone thinking about nominating this year?

I am in the process of writing a nomination this year, but my aim is to write up a winning nomination, so I am spending time to get it perfect!

To write a winning nomination you need to stick to the brief and really look at what the category is asking. You need to understand what the judges are going to be looking for. You can’t just write “I think this person should win because they’re a really good egg and they help their colleagues”. It needs to be detailed and always relating back to the brief found.

The Spirit of Sodexo Awards are open to all colleagues in the UK and Ireland. This year more than ever before, it is important to recognise your colleagues who have proved time again to do more than the job asks.

If you want to learn more about Spirit of Sodexo, you can access the Your_Sodexo page here. Make sure you nominate your colleagues using the online form - and remember to provide good examples of how your colleague or team has achieved the criteria of the award category.

Colleagues from all across the business can be nominated - whether they are frontline team members, redeployed, on furlough, working from home, or fulfilling their normal role.

Nominations close on 12 March 2021, so make sure you get your nominations in before the deadline!


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