Electrical retailer Currys has just undergone a rebranding and a major restructure. Training and development - plus a series of Mind Gym workouts - were the key to steering staff through the changes. Jo Faragher reports.
DSG International (DSGi) owns a host of well-known electrical brands, including Currys, PC World, Dixons and The Link, and last month the group moved its Dixons brand online, renaming its 190 Dixons stores Currys.digital. The group trades in 1,400 stores and online stores in 14 countries, and employs 40,000 people.
In April 2005, DSGi announced a two-year change programme that would see staff headcount in its Currys distribution centres drop from 2,500 to 1,900. Currys planned to close a number of existing distribution centres, meaning 1,400 job losses, while also opening a series of new centres, where it would need to recruit more staff.
Since the change was over a long period of time and affected a broad spectrum of people, it was crucial to communicate it in the right way, or staff might have a knee-jerk reaction and leave, according to Currys' HR director, Claire Walton.
"For some people, the change would be gradual, but for others it would happen towards the end of the two years," she says.
"Most companies keep this sort of news to themselves for as long as possible because they believe employees can't handle it. One of our company values is respect, so we told them up front."
Management's biggest concern was losing people in a way it couldn't control - if staff reacted badly to the news and simply walked out, many of the high-street stores would come to a standstill. The company also needed to ensure that it retained certain skills and knowledge that could then be transferred to the new sites.
DSGi invited 80 of Currys' top managers away for two days. "We delivered the news in the first 15 minutes and spent the rest of the two days trying to understand what their concerns were and how we could deal with them," says Walton.
To boost buy-in for the change programme, DSGi offered the managers a choice of personal and professional development courses so that, if they did lose their job, they would feel better qualified to apply for another. For more junior staff, Currys promised that if it could not find a role for them, they were entitled to 500 worth of training, their redu