Cultural Assessment and Improvement Programme

The Assignment

31ten were commissioned twice by Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) between 2020-2022. The first phase was to carry out a Cultural Assessment and develop a roadmap for improvement. The second commission was to assess progress made, build on the successes, and develop new interventions to support the Service’s cultural improvement journey. 

Recent changes in SFRS were arguably its most significant in over 50 years, resulting in a fundamental shift to the delivery of its services to their communities, changes to ways of working for their staff, and creating a culture that balances the passion for tradition with the need for a modern and agile culture.

The Role

The national spotlight on Fire and Rescue Service culture created a catalyst for change but also opportunity for meaningful engagement with Service members on increasingly visible and important topics.

By creating a safe space for open dialogue and listening to staff feedback we were able to establish an approach for trusted and productive conversations, break down barriers between individuals and teams, and generate a shared mandate for change from individual input across the breadth of the Service. 

We developed a cultural assessment framework and used it to baseline the Service’s current culture in 2021. Running the assessment again in 2022, we were able to measure and communicate the scale of improvements made and highlight areas with particular progress or those requiring additional focus.

Together with SFRS – and building on existing Service strengths – we developed a set of pragmatic recommendations and actions focused on making cultural and behavioural change real for individuals, empowering people and groups, and providing additional support to influential formal and informal leaders across the Service.

Key Outcomes

Based on the key themes of our findings, we created a behavioural blueprint to support the translation of cultural ambitions into pragmatic, day-to-day behaviour change for all members of the Service. 

A key objective was to harness the existing talent and depth of experience across the Service. Along with SFRS colleagues, we supported the journey of critical management forums from “top-down” briefings toward interactive problem-solving groups with the ownership and resource to deliver and role model change. 

Measurable feedback on Service culture, distinctly improved relationships, and increased ownership and engagement are all reflective of the impact of the programme. Significant progress was achieved over a relatively short period of time, but with an awareness by the Service that there was still much to do.  

Image credit: Surrey Fire & Rescue Service