By Andy Baird, General Manager, Newhouse depot
Talkback gives us a lot of insight into how our colleagues feel working here, and what they think about Co-op.
After our results from last year, we found that our colleagues in Newhouse depot didn’t feel a strong emotional connection to Co-op, and they didn’t really understand our Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities ambition.
This helped give me a glimpse of what our colleagues were thinking, but we needed to find out why, so we could do something about it.
We hit the ground running and set up listening sessions for every single colleague in the depot. That included all shift patterns and all departments, as well as our drivers. We wanted to give everyone the opportunity to have their voice heard.
We discovered that colleagues think the posters, briefs, comms and adverts they see are fine, but they struggle with creating an emotional connection with Co-op because they don’t feel directly involved in what we do. They prefer to be directly told about what’s going on and feel involved in the conversation.
We took that feedback to heart, and worked through everything our colleagues told us during our depot strategy day. We bucketed our results and findings into our Leadership Behaviours and worked out what we could do to lead by example.
One key thing we wanted to do was create a strong sense of belonging, and we decided community and charity was a key way we could do this. We worked with our Community and Engagement Lead, Susan Cunningham, who helped us design and organise a community session for every colleague. This was to help them understand the work we do with local charities, what we’re planning to do throughout the year and how they can get involved. We also worked with the management team to give them the confidence to talk about Co-op and the amazing things we do.
We have over 1,200 people in the depot, and we see every person as an individual. We’ve made the senior team accessible, we continue to run listening groups, and we encourage everyone to get involved with charity activities, regardless of what team they’re in or who they are.
Talkback is such a valuable tool for us. Often, we’ve looked at the functional side of the results to help us identify the things that get in the way of colleagues doing their job. What we’ve done this year is focus more on the leadership and engagement of colleagues, so they know how important they are and that what they do matters. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but I know we’re on the right track.