Personnel Today Awards 2014 winners: Tesco leads the way for L&D at larger employers

Personnel Today Awards 2014 winners: Tesco leads the way for L&D at larger employers
Tesco collect their Learning and Development award at the Personnel Today Awards 2014

Tesco walked away with the 2014 Personnel Today Award for Excellence in Learning and Development (L&D), for organisations with more than 1,000 employees. Here we look at what they did to beat off the stiff competition, with an outline of their winning entry and those of our runners-up.


Tesco

About the organisation

Retailer Tesco was founded in 1919 from a market stall in London’s East End. Over the years the business has grown and it now operates in 12 countries around the world, employs more than 530,000 people and serves tens of millions of customers each week.

The challenge

In 2012, Tesco reported a decline in customer satisfaction and trading profits as online sales caused disruption in retail. To achieve its core purpose of “Making what matters better, together” in uncertain times, Tesco needed its people to lead differently.

What the organisation did

  • Conducted a thorough business-needs analysis, involving customer research and benchmarking, workshops, focus groups and employee interviews.
  • Identified requirement for simplified leadership skills and behaviours, and set up a programme to embed them – “Leaders at Tesco”.
  • Implemented a three-day experiential programme took 182 leaders on journey around core framework of five leadership skills.
  • Created a leadership skills toolkit, which provided practical support.
  • Ran large-scale one-day events and team briefings that enabled shared understanding and “creation of a common language”.
  • Integrated 10-month communications plan.
  • Alignment to vision and operational KPIs helped people explore “what matters” and understand how Tesco’s core purpose relates to individual roles.

Benefits and achievements

  • Majority (90%) of senior leaders are now using all five leadership skills more effectively in their work.
  • Employees overwhelmingly (94%) agree/strongly agree that there is a more collaborative environment and better teamwork.
  • Increase in customer accounts to 7.1 million at year-end (from 6.6 million in 2013), an increase of 7.6%.
  • Profit before tax progressed strongly, up by 23.1% to £152.6 million (from £124 million in 2013).
  • Achieved an 8% decrease in total customer complaints.
  • Customer net promoter scores climbed from 41% to 46%.
  • Academy team saved £391,000, enabling strategically crucial programme to be implemented within existing L&D budget.

Judges’ comments

“A very strong entry showing a carefully crafted programme that is demonstrating impact on participants and the business.”


Home Retail Group

About the organisation

Home Retail Group is the UK’s leading home and general merchandise retailer, selling products under three brands: Argos, Homebase and Habitat. The group operates 1,073 stores and has a revenue of £5.5 billion.

The challenge

Excellence in Learning and Development – the judges

Jane Turner, associate dean, Northumbria University, Faculty of Business & Law

David Goddin, leadership development and change consultant, Change Continuum

Ksenia Zheltoukhova, research adviser, CIPD

Against an uncertain economic landscape and changing shopping behaviours among consumers, Home Retail Group wanted to transform itself from a catalogue-led to a digitally-led business.

What the organisation did

  • Committed to harnessing the power of technology in order to provide training to each employee.
  • Aimed to create a paradigm shift in the way that colleagues learn and develop as individuals.
  • Commissioned a cross-functional team to complete a comprehensive “current state” assessment, in order to compile a picture of the learning delivery strategies within the group.
  • Engaged the L&D team within all areas of the business and undertook an assessment of the IT infrastructure and external market research.
  • Chose a solution branded OPENdoor. Pilot launched in February 2013, which eliminated the potential for problems during roll-out.
  • Expanded team with new talent, then internal change process was implemented, to challenge “old thinking”, adopt new methodologies and learn new skills.
  • Outcome was an expansion of the scope of work undertaken, which included bringing content authoring in-house.
  • Introduced blended learning resources.
  • Implemented STEPS career development programme.

Benefits and achievements

  • During the peak trading period leading up to Christmas, more than 11,000 temporary staff were inducted, representing an investment of 308,000 training hours.
  • Created a rich new learning environment for staff, which supports both personal growth and functional training.
  • In-house authoring team has launched 517 interactive, fun and engaging courses.
  • Introduced new ways of learning using 400 e-books and 84 pocket guides.
  • Consolidating data from six legacy systems resulted in the migration of 3.9 million training records.
  • More than 24,000 employees across Argos, Habitat, Customer Services, Financial Services, Argos for Business and teams based in Asia have used OPENdoor to enhance their skills and knowledge.
  • Bottom-line benefit is ahead of target and has already contributed £250,000 in the first year.

Judges’ comments

“Strong application for a successful enterprise-wide learning system that has created qualitative and quantitative organisational impact.”


Fujitsu UK

About the organisation

Fujitsu is an IT company offering a complete range of products, services and solutions. With more than 20,000 retail outlets in the UK, it is the largest Japanese employer in the region, employing 14,000 people.

The challenge

Facing a fragile economy, a major reduction in spending from the UK Government (Fujitsu’s largest customer) and an increasingly aggressive competitive landscape, it became clear that the consequences of underinvestment in people would prove far more costly than any money saved. It therefore decided to invest at even greater levels than it did before the downturn.

What the organisation did

  • Identified people management as the keystone of the new strategy.
  • Ran 51 focus groups to formulate the Fujitsu standards for management; developing self-assessment tools for managers to gauge their own performance.
  • Undertook interviews to review evidence, and those that met the threshold were certified under the Fujitsu Management Accreditation Programme.
  • Encouraged early-accredited managers to volunteer as mentors to colleagues.
  • Provided personalised development plans and an accredited mentor to support each manager in their journey of improvement.
  • Created two new senior roles – delivery executive and client executive, which became part of a mandatory “performance coaching” programme.
  • Implemented a “Programme for Technical Talent”.
  • Launched a programme, “Distinguished Engineers”, to find and recognise the “best technical people”.

Benefits and achievements

  • Investment in developing senior coaching capability resulted in 22 senior managers being selected to pursue a Diploma in Coaching at Henley Management College.
  • Employee opinion survey saw training category improve by 8% points and development up 10%.
  • Exceeded aggressive profit targets for the year.
  • Attrition within technical talent group reduced by 21% between March 2013 and Jan 2014.
  • In the first year, L&D directed £1.8 million worth of technical skills investment, which has delivered a reduction in technical project overruns of 36%.

Judges’ comments

“Strong application for an innovative programme that is closely aligned with the business strategy and operation to deliver positive impact in a number of areas.”


Hertfordshire County Council

About the organisation

Hertfordshire County Council is the upper-tier local authority for the non-metropolitan county of Hertfordshire. It provides services for children, schools, libraries, environmental services, older people and people with disabilities.

The challenge

The council was faced with the challenge of saving £200 million over four years and delivering an annual budget reduction of 25% while improving customer outcomes, at the same time as responding to increasing demands on services.

What the organisation did

  • Created a clear line of sight from corporate vision and strategic priorities through L&D interventions directly to internal customers and service users.
  • Developed a learning and development strategy which clarifies the company’s vision and identifies four strategic priorities aligned with the council’s corporate priorities.
  • Modernised its operating model.
  • Agreed an innovative talent management strategy to develop and retain exceptional leadership and management capacity and capability.
  • Identified a talent pool, facilitated development opportunities and introduced succession planning.
  • Set up a new programme, LEAP, including action learning sets working on live, transformation problems set by a board-level sponsor.
  • Offered a 10-month blended learning programme to junior and middle managers.
  • Developed and implemented a strategy to deliver employment and work experience opportunities for young people and those disadvantaged in the employment market.
  • Set up initiatives including an apprenticeship programme for care; a non-care apprenticeship programme with emphasis on care leavers not in edutcation, employment or training; and a care cadet scheme.

Benefits and achievements

  • Achieved 74% manager satisfaction levels, with 25% saying that the service has improved.
  • Eighty-six colleagues in talent pool are performing strongly against targets.
  • A total of 243 managers completed LEAP with excellent delegate and line manger feedback and showed tangible contributions to corporate programmes through case studies.
  • Graduate training programmes performing highly with strong return on investment; management and finance graduates are promoted to middle manager roles within one-and-a-half years of completing the scheme and senior manager roles in a further three to four years.
  • Academy attracts more than 400 applicants for 34 graduate places per annum.
  • Employee engagement increased by 14 points to 63% (against sector average of 38%).
  • Delivered savings of £149 million between 2010 and 2014, through more than 100 change projects.

Judges’ comments

“Well-developed comprehensive intervention covering both individual and organisational development.”


RSA

About the organisation

With a 300-year heritage, RSA is one of the world’s leading multinational insurance groups. It is the fifth-largest personal lines insurer in the UK, selling home, motor and pet insurance via brokers, affinity partners and direct to consumers under the MORE TH>N brand. In the UK it has 7,500 employees.

The challenge

RSA’s strategy is “To be the UK’s best general insurer” for its customers. The challenge it faced was bringing to life the “one team” element of its learning strategy, as historically its sites had operated in “silo” areas of expertise and there was a disconnect in the engagement between senior leaders and front-line teams.

What the organisation did

  • Created MentorMatch, an interactive portal to enable people in the UK business to “connect, inspire and achieve” great things through a mentoring relationship.
  • Devised project as part of a talent programme, “Bright Sparks”, where the UK CEO sponsors individuals who pitched to be part of development programme.
  • Objectives of the programme were to drive the personal growth agenda, drive engagement, and create a cost-effective solution while at the same time not increasing HR resources.
  • Set up a portal that enabled anyone in the UK RSA business to post their profile and seek a mentor or mentee based on skills, knowledge areas and personality matching.
  • Chose BYG Systems to build the site to the RSA Project Team specification.
  • Planned to design, build, test and release the portal was completed within 12 weeks.
  • Implementation manager at BYG and the project team established a regular call routine to keep the plan to brief, time and budget (£45,000).
  • Lined up 100 mentors made up of influential people and senior leaders from across the business, role modelling development and openness.
  • End of April 2014 saw 458 users and 260 people in matches typically lasting three to 12 months.

Benefits and achievements

  • Increase in personal growth scores for MentorMatch users of 30%.
  • A total of 22% of MentorMatch users reported a promotion or new opportunity as a result of the portal.
  • Careers portal users increased by more than 30 each month since MentorMatch launched.
  • Achieved a Top 10 rating in the 2013 Best Big Companies to Work For survey.
  • MentorMatch users are 44% more engaged than before and have a net promoter score for the site of +78 (ahead of business target).
  • Forty per cent of mentees reported their deliverables for the year were met more readily.
  • Investment in user-friendly technology delivered a return on investment of 362%.
  • External mentor cost savings amounted to £66,500 and recruitment cost savings of promotions £96,500.

Judges’ comments

“Strong application for an internal mentoring programme and platform that is delivering positive impact in a number of areas.”


Midcounties Co-operative Society

About the organisation

The Midcounties Co-operative is the largest independent co-operative in the UK with gross sales of more than £1 billion. It is a broad family of businesses, ranging from large trading groups of food, travel, pharmacy, funeral and childcare to a collection of Post Offices, energy provision, operating the .coop domain name and providing employee benefits.

The challenge

After identifying some inconsistencies in management styles across trading groups, the society wanted to encourage a wider approach to learning and avoid a “silo” mentality, which can occur when such broad areas of expertise are in play. It also wanted to improve employee engagement and encourage the sharing of knowledge organically, in order to challenge assumptions and encourage innovation.

What the organisation did

  • Launched a three-year Management Development Programme (MDP) in 2011, to ensure a consistent approach.
  • Undertook a training needs analysis that engaged with key stakeholders to develop the programme.
  • Created nine MDP modules, involving key leadership team members to ensure all learning was aligned with business strategy and delivered on a number of critical learning objectives.
  • Asked for managers’ input into the programme to guarantee the training met their individual needs.
  • Included GoMAD thinking (Go Make A Difference) training in the programme, which is designed to promote leadership, innovation and business transformation.
  • Ran a “back to the floor” day with managers working in a different business area of their choice, which allowed them to innovate new ways of working, and promote other trading areas to their customers.
  • Enabled managers to determine what actions they would choose to implement at their sites, which were then shared with others at the start of each workshop and recorded in a “personal learning portfolio”.
  • Introduced a team building day to the programme, helping teams build relationships across the Society, establish their own business area and feel more comfortable in a wider group of colleagues.

Benefits and achievements

  • Programme attendance significantly improved from 86% in year one to 97% in year two.
  • A total of 353 managers were eligible to complete the programme in 2013 and 99% subsequently graduated from the scheme by the agreed date.
  • Made significant investment in the three-year programme, spending £1.1 million (approximately £2,000 per manager) to date.
  • Demonstrated a significant return on investment of £3.4 million, with graduating managers applying their learning on-site, resulting in significant savings for the business.
  • One course attendee identified a waste issue at their retail site resulting in a £13,000 saving per annum.
  • Feedback has shown a 36% increase in the skills and knowledge of managers from the first two years of the programme, rising to 73% in the final year.
  • Saw a four-point increase (to 80) in employee engagement score since 2011 in the employee opinion survey.
  • Moved from 24th to 10th in the Sunday Times’ 25 Best Big Companies to Work For.

Judges’ comments

“A mature, well-constructed and engaged management development programme that has delivered a tangible impact on the business.”


Argos

About the organisation

Argos is the UK’s leading digital retailer, offering more than 33,000 products through www.argos.co.uk, its growing mobile channels, stores, over the telephone and through Argos TV. It is the UK’s largest online high street retailer with more than 430 million website visits annually, and serves around 130 million customers a year through its network of 740 stores. It employs 31,000 people.

The challenge

Argos, like all high street retailers, has been dealing with a rapidly changing market. Traditionally, head office and operational roles were fulfilled externally, as skill sets required of a successful store manager did not naturally translated into the competencies needed for a head office role. Furthermore, there was a belief that there was little desire within the store manager audience to move out of outlet management. Feedback from training courses indicated that store managers found it very difficult to bridge career paths and that the aspirations of talented people were unnecessarily limited.

What the organisation did

  • Engaged with the HR resourcing team to understand what types of roles might be fulfilled internally.
  • Designed an 18-month programme, Explore, which encompassed a blend of training, experiential development, reflection and self-analysis.
  • Held sessions were with business leaders in order to provide an insight into the work completed by their departments.
  • Created a three-day challenge known as “The boardroom”, during which each candidate was asked to develop ideas for an internal communications strategy.
  • Gave candidates experiential assignments on varied topics.
  • Enabled candidates to present their concepts to three members of the senior leadership team in a boardroom meeting in the style which was a blend of the TV shows “The Apprentice” and “Dragons Den”.
  • Adopted a number of candidates’ ideas that became part of the communication strategy.

Benefits and achievements

  • Thirteen candidates completed the 18-month programme.
  • More than 75% of graduates have already been promoted into head office roles or field operational area management positions.
  • Return on investment for the first programme has been greater than 300%.
  • Resulted in a highly acclaimed flagship programme that benefits both the business and employees in equal proportion.
  • “Explorers” now hold key positions across the business, enabling successful business transition.

Judges’ comments

“An engaged, effective and successful flexible talent development programme that is benefiting participants and the business.”


Vine HR

About the organisation

A not-for-profit company formed by the Heads of HR from all 15 local authorities in Essex, Vine HR offers a full range of people management policies, plans and strategies. The council serves a population of more than 1.3 million residents.

The challenge

Essex authorities wanted to provide an efficient and sustainable model for training and developing employees that was accessible to all organisations regardless of their size. It needed to be cost effective, while keeping up to date with learning trends and delivery methods, but also modern and consistent, while ensuring excellent customer value and standards.

What the organisation did

  • Created an innovative learning environment where employees from different organisations worked together and learnt from each other through a combination of face-to-face workshops and virtual collaboration.
  • Procured new training framework, which meant programmes could be established quickly.
  • Established 16 key training areas under the framework.
  • Set up behavioural workshops and targeted skills development.
  • Established masterclasses, which focused on challenging leaders, as well as providing opportunities for others to aim higher.
  • Focused development to encourage self-awareness and practical steps to improve.
  • Created a project team that shaped a partnership-led development programme.
  • Gave delegates access to a virtual platform (Vine) to create communities and collaborate on key topics virtually across organisations.
  • Allowed organisations to develop their own bespoke programmes.

Benefits and achievements

  • Saved £530,000 on training costs and £250,000 on establishing a shared procurement approach, including legal support.
  • Trained 570 employees and established 34 programmes overall.
  • Management programme developed for Havering Borough Council cut its management training timeframe from six to two months and achieved a cost per head of less than £400, compared to a high street quote of £1500.
  • Allowed the District Council Network’s employees to use Vine network in order to work differently and challenge each other.

Judges’ comments

“A very strong entry showing innovation through collaboration.”

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