RBS Group Employee Engagement Award

This award recognises high-performing organisations that are unlocking discretionary effort from their staff through effective employee engagement. Entrants identified what it is about their organisation, its job functions and its managers that make people love to work there. The judge wanted evidence of respected leadership, exceptional levels of communication, and a strong sense of community centred around shared values.

The Royal Bank of Scotland Group is one of the world’s leading financial services providers. Great people are key to the group’s ongoing success, and its innovative HR function plays an integral role by making sure it attracts, develops, motivates and retains the right people to make it happen.

Judge: Peter Mills

Peter Mills is associate director of The Rialto Consultancy, and has more than 30 years’ experience as an HR leader and business consultant. He has held senior positions in manufacturing, investment banking, technology, the public sector and consulting. Mills focuses on strategic change, leadership and executive coaching. He is currently directing a major collaborative staff engagement project with Henley Management College.

Boots The Chemists
The team:
Boots HR
Number in team: 235
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 65,000

About the organisation Boots is the UK’s leading health and beauty retailer. It has about 1,500 stores in the UK and Ireland. It is part of Alliance Boots, which was created through the merger of Alliance UniChem and the Boots Group in 2005.

The challenge Between 2002 and 2004, Boots was experiencing staff cuts, leadership gaps, and poor investment in its stores. Morale was low, and the effect could be seen in falling customer numbers, poor sales growth and reduced profit. It sought to re-engage its staff in a bid to boost business performance.

What the organisation did

  • In 2005, it decided to deliver an integrated ’employee-customer-profit’ chain.
  • Moved from a staff satisfaction survey to a robust measure of staff engagement, the Great Place to Work survey, which incentivises managers to take actions that drive business performance.
  • Cut the number of survey questions and implemented a telephone collating process.
  • Implemented the ‘Winning Together’ employee engagement model across the entire business.

Benefits and achievements

  • Latest staff survey response rate was 96% (58,252 staff).
  • Increase in overall positive score (64% in 2005 to 74% in 2007).
  • New processes delivered in record time at minimal cost by all line managers.
  • Absence improved by 14%, worth £3.75m.
  • Turnover has fallen by 12%, worth £12.7m.
  • Retention of new recruits at six months’ service has improved by 5.3%, worth £200,000.
  • Improving the Great Place To Work score added £5.8m to Boots’ profit in 2006-07.

The judge says: “Major transformational performance has been achieved with a suite of innovative and yet practical approaches in close partnership with the leadership team.”

The team:
Business Engagement Team
Number in team: 8
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 41,000

About the organisation B&Q is the UK’s leading home improvement and garden centre retailer. Owned by parent company Kingfisher, it has a turnover of £3.9bn, and more than 39,000 staff.

The challenge In 2005, B&Q was experiencing store closures, a board restructure, poor profitability and share prices, and a freeze on bonus payouts. Staff engagement was almost at an all-time low, and it was spending more than £100m on disengaged workers. It needed to recover its competitive advantage by becoming a business that was driven by people, and not processes.

What the organisation did

  • Implemented a 10-step recovery plan called 4-3-3.
  • HR team drives engagement-boosting initiatives and measures progress with a twice-yearly survey.
  • HR is accountable for engagement scores across each function it represents.
  • HR embedded engagement into staff reviews and made it a criterion for bonuses and promotions.
  • Improved internal publications and made the strategy understandable through conferences, strategy updates and ‘learning maps’.

Benefits and achievements

  • Improved ratios of 5.4 engaged staff for every actively disengaged employee.
  • 84% staff survey response rate.
  • Like-for-like sales increase from -8.8 to +1.4.
  • Mystery shopper scores rose from 65% in February 2005 to 80.4% in January 2007.
  • Speedier delivery of innovation due to improved cross-functional working, communication, and extra discretionary effort from staff.
  • Bonus payouts made for the first time since 2004.

The judge says: “B&Q has created a strong transformation programme with staff engagement at its core. HR takes accountability for engagement with line managers, making it a prime measure alongside sales growth. There have been very powerful results, with HR having real influence.”

National Savings & Investments
The team:
Number in team: 6
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 130

About the organisation National Savings and Investments (NS&I) is a government agency competing in the financial services sector. It is one of the UK’s largest retail savings investment organisations, with £79bn worth of investments and more than 35 million customers.

The challenge In 1999, a strategy review concluded that NS&I’s ‘value add’ for the taxpayer was at risk unless delivery was modernised to compete more efficiently in the UK market. It needed to simplify, modernise and diversify, which required its 130 staff to be highly engaged with the strategic direction of the business.

What the organisation did

Implemented a five-year strategy, including:

  • A recognition scheme and annual awards ceremony.
  • The Deal benefits package, developed with staff, including two days’ paid leave for charity work, subsidised gym membership and childcare vouchers.
  • Staff developed five ‘Ways of Working’ to shape NS&I’s culture.
  • Communicating customer-focused messages using conferences, informal sessions and plasma screens.

Benefits and achievements

  • Achieved its five-year business strategy in four.
  • Achieved third 100% completion rate for the annual staff survey – 80% of staff feel they play a part in shaping NS&I’s future, and 95% feel confidence in the directors’ leadership.
  • Gained Best Companies star status accreditation in 2007.
  • Westminster and Whitehall Learning and Development Award winner 2006.
  • Absence rates stand at 3.32 days, compared with its target of four.

The judge says: “This is a cultural hybrid, with private sector financial services staff operating in the public sector. There have been quite remarkable results from an unremitting and practical approach.”

Stagecoach South Western Ltd & Network Rail Wessex
The team:
Right Time Railway Project Team
Number in team: 10
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 6,932

About the organisation Stagecoach South Western Trains is the registered company for South West Trains (SWT). It runs 1,698 trains every weekday, serving 213 stations and employing around 5,500 staff. Network Rail runs, maintains and develops the UK’s railway infrastructure and 17 key stations.

The challenge Four years ago, SWT’s passenger performance measure revealed that only one-third of its trains arrived on time. Staff didn’t communicate with each other about the delays, or understand how they fitted into the bigger picture.

What the organisation did

Implemented the Right Time Railway (RTR) communications programme, which:

  • Identified eight processes and 42 roles involved in running the train service.
  • Held RTR workshops for 500 SWT and Network Rail managers and gave them toolkits to help them communicate RTR to their people.
  • Held regular meetings and conferences between nine local RTR groups to share ideas, best practice and resolve issues.
  • Used communication tools to emphasise the seven principles of RTR.
  • Developed a detailed process tool to help everyone understand the interdependencies of major processes and roles.

Benefits and achievements

  • 93% of staff now understand how their actions can help keep trains on time.
  • 82% now believe there is a lot they can do to help trains run on time, compared with 65% in 2006.
  • 62% believe RTR is making a difference to the way staff work together.
  • 69% feel involved in delivering RTR.
  • Customer satisfaction scores have improved.

The judge says: “The ability to zero in on a fundamental business shift driven by the need to enhance engagement was achieved through creativity, pragmatism and tenacity.”

Vodafone UK
The team: Vodafone UK HR
Number in team: 220
Number of staff the team is responsible for: 10,100

About the organisation Vodafone UK has 17.4 million customers and is part of the world’s largest international mobile telecommunications group. It has been at the forefront of mobile innovation for the past 20 years.

The challenge Vodafone aims to be the world’s mobile communications leader. It wanted to create a highly motivated workforce through people plans for every management area and engagement activities across the UK. It decided to focus on using entertaining experiences as a new way of engaging staff with the business.

What the organisation did

  • Cut the number of staff surveys from 14 a year to four to focus analysis on the drivers of engagement.
  • Ran a staff music competition with a touring recording studio.
  • Published e-zines, posters, newsletters and a chief executive’s blog.
  • Ran an internal football tournament with a main prize of Cup Final tickets and a trip to Athens.
  • Developed and introduced tailored NVQs and apprenticeships.
  • Held environmental roadshows and encouraged participation in community projects.

Benefits and achievements

  • Its Employee Engagement Index score is now 72.4/100 – its highest yet.
  • Made the Sunday Times’ 20 Best Companies to Work For for the second year running.
  • Made the Financial Times’ 50 Best Places to Work in first year of entering.
  • 80% of cutomer-facing staff have access to professional qualifications, and its 92% NVQ pass rate is one of the highest in the UK.

The judge says: “Engagement is core to this organisation operating in a highly competitive sector. There is a core creativity here, and yet this is balanced with straightforward, face-to-face interventions and low-tech initiatives, with strong results.”

Want more information on the Personnel Today Awards?

Comments are closed.