Learning, recruitment and benefits – find out about the new Cost Category

andy_langI’m Andrew Lang, Co-op’s Chief Risk Officer and also the Cost Category Owner (CCO) for the new learning, recruitment and benefits Cost Category.

It’s only existed for a few months, so our plans aren’t as advanced as other cost categories, but its really important, as in addition to saving money it focuses on people – getting the right people, helping them progress and rewarding them appropriately. It’s essential to our Stronger Co-op strategy that we get it right.

We’ll make access to training fairer

With learning we’re looking at costs across Co-op and seeing whether we can deliver better training having more centralised resources easily available for all. The saving opportunity for this area isn’t that large because cuts were made a few years ago during our Co-op Rescue and Rebuild phases. It’s about how we can make best use of the budget we have to make training provision fairer – so more people have access to the training they need.

While there may be more training for colleagues in the future, its important to remember that formal training events such as courses aren’t the only way of developing. They’re useful for very technical skills, but most people learn best on the job. We all need to think more creatively about how we meet our own learning needs. I recently moved from heading the central Finance team into Risk – it was quite a change, and I’ve found that many of the skills I had in my Finance role can also be used in my new role – there’s still plenty to learn, but I’ve not been on a course to learn the skills so far. If you want to progress or move roles, I’d suggest you observe leaders and colleagues, find role models and mentors, read up on the area, and gain experience of working with other teams.

How we can more easily share the learning we get from training with other colleagues is also something I’m keen to explore.

We want to help colleagues progress, as well as bring new people in

In recruitment we’ll review the costs of bringing people in. With so many ways to contact job seekers directly, we need to review what benefit agencies bring. We may need to use them for very hard to recruit, specialist or Executive roles, but we should always use preferred suppliers that give good value and service – and use fewer agencies to get volume discounts.

We also need to look at how we bring talent up through the Co-op – or even across, from business to business. We have very talented people here, and we know that if we don’t give colleagues who want to progress the opportunity to, they’re likely to leave. By looking internally where possible we save recruitment costs and also keep all the skills and experience that person has gained working here. To that end, the great news is that we’ve spent half as much on external recruitment in the last year, as the year before, as more colleagues have been recruited or promoted internally.

The final part of the Cost Category is benefits, and that’s something we’re looking at hand in hand with HR. It’s about looking at the whole package of someone’s employment and whether this is right. It’s a fine balance as we want to reward colleagues and be competitive in the market, but we’re a Co-op not a PLC, so we should reward fairly but sustainably too.

If you have any ideas about cost saving in the areas of learning, recruitment and benefits, please send them across to fuelforgrowth@coop.co.uk