Lessons in Employee Experience

Thomas FairbairnMarch 26, 20199min0
We profile two winners from last year's Employee Experience Awards to see what was special about their initiatives.

At the beginning of March, we announced the finalists for this year’s UK Employee Experience Awards.

The early bird deadline for bookings closes in just 10 days!

And of course, it’s getting to the point where we’re counting down the days to the awards themselves, which will be held on 15th May at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel in London.

Before we look ahead to the amazing finalists and judges of this year’s events, we wanted to recap some of the real success stories from last year.

These two case studies will give you a concise overview of the most impressive entries from our UK Employee Experience Awards 2019, giving an insight into the challenges employers face, the strategies they enact and the results they achieve.


Bidfood – Team of the Year and Overall Winner 2018

Bidfood is a leading foodservice provider in the United Kingdom. With 27 locations across the country, they have 4,500 employees and sell to 45,000 customers.

Their main aim was to develop and enhance their service excellence, which would help them achieve their ultimate aim of being the best foodservice provider in the country. With a new CEO at the helm, the desire was to set themselves apart from other B2B foodservice providers by developing truly outstanding customer service. This required engaging the entire staff.

To ensure that this engagement initiative remained authentic, Bidfood came up with their core values in-house. In the end they agreed on the catchy phrase – Care, Share and Dare – to sum up how all employees should behave. They also made sure to integrate these values into a variety of company materials, such as induction materials, bulletins, and blogs, to diffuse the new ideas throughout the business.

Bidfood also wanted to maintain strong local ties, and treat customers appropriately across the UK. Rather than implementing a top-down policy change that only reflected the overall averages of the business, offices in each local area conducted their own specialised research.

Furthering this engagement of the whole workforce, Bidfood also launched a campaign called ‘Dare to Share’: employees were encouraged to submit ideas to management. Over 10% of the workforce entered this in some way, with finalists presenting their ideas to the board. Crucially, this wasn’t just a formality – all the suggestions were taken forward in some way.

They also created more communities across the organisation to give a greater collective voice on particular issues. They established forums for employees, sustainability and operations. These groups coordinated on key issues for the business, and the increased communication proved very beneficial.

Employee Experience Results

Taken together, this package of business reforms helped Bidfood stay ahead on their five-year financial plan. In their analysis of the reasons for these changes, they cited employee engagement and service excellence as key factors.

In the last two years, confidence in their leadership has gone up 10%, and they are regularly performing better at engagement than the industry standard, as well as their parent company.

There are tangible signs of increased employee engagement, and many of the new forums generated ideas that really benefited the business.

What can we learn from Bidfood’s example? I think there are three key take-home messages when thinking about employee experience:

  1. Values are important, but they are only truly useful if you create structures that incentivise employees to engage with and act by those values.
  2. Front-line staff often have fantastic ideas because of their direct connection to certain issues. Initiatives that take advantage of this insight are likely to improve company performance.
  3. You don’t have to spend a huge amount of money to improve employee engagement. Bidfood initiated profound but inexpensive changes, and often these are the most significant.
How did HomeServe patch up their Employee Experience?
Fixing a hole

HomeServe –  Business Transformation and Managing Change Winner, UK Employee Experience Awards 2018

HomeServe is a large home assistance provider, with over 2.2 million customers and a team of engineers across the country who fix and maintain people’s homes. In the UK, it has over 3,100 employees.

In 2012, the company was facing a challenge. They had recently been fined by the FCA and they were looking to rebuild their reputation in the scandal’s aftermath. Greg Reed came on board, initially as CMO, and launched several initiatives to turn things round.

The broad overarching theme to these changes was dubbed ‘Effortless 2020’. What did this involve?

HomeServe adopted Rant & Rave technology to enable real-time feedback on calls with customers. They currently score 8.6/9 by this standard, well above what is considered world class.

A specific HomeServe initiative was ‘CustomerFirst’, which takes the form of an open 8.30 meeting. This means that anyone can raise an issue, whether a customer or employee, and then the floor is open to discuss potential solutions. This is a very democratic, open system for addressing feedback and complaints.

Similarly, Greg Reed holds monthly ‘Big Conversations’ with random groups of people from across the business, and there is a ‘Big Red Sofa’ event which is broadcast live every two weeks, and features Greg and the leadership team taking questions from all over the company. Greg has also held more than 3,000 1-2-1s in his time at the company.

This was all about establishing a culture of recognition within HomeServe that could improve employee engagement – and it worked, with their employee engagement index score now at 83%!

So what does this mean for employee engagement? I think the key here is consistent outreach. Everyone in a company needs to feel that connection to a greater purpose, and leaders can do a lot to enable this. After a tough couple of years, HomeServe’s new management successfully improved employee experience by launching a range of engaging initiatives, keeping everyone informed about company business and reaffirming the importance of being empathetic, sociable and passionate about work. This reinvigorated attitude helped turn HomeServe around.

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