As the age old adage goes, there is no ‘I’ in ‘team’. There is, however, in ‘individual’, and in a business our size, it is the power of these individuals who ensure that the overall team is able to function as one successful, effective unit – delivering excellence for both the business and our customers.
Our employees are our most important asset. In the UK, we employ around 26,000 people – three quarters of which are employees of Arriva UK Bus – and we operate over 6,000 buses and almost 400 trains. It is important therefore that each and every person who works for Arriva feels appreciated for their own unique value, as well as understanding how they personally help the business deliver on its objectives as a whole.
But how do you keep your employees motivated and engaged enough to deliver high levels of service whilst maintaining revenue, and driving growth?
The first thing for us is ensuring our people feel included – that their opinions are listened to and acted upon if viable. As such, every two years Arriva runs a group-wide survey to benchmark employee satisfaction across a range of measures. Of course surveys are notoriously hard to engage employees with, but we have worked hard to ensure that there is that engagement.
In 2014, for example, the Arriva participated in a DB-wide survey that aims to ask all 300,000 of the German group’s employees around the world. This was done to ensure the UK teams were able to understand and appreciate their place within DB’s global network. To spread the word about this, and motivate people to participate, in each depot location, survey champions were appointed to extoll the benefits of participation.
Sessions were run in Reading, Birmingham and York where champions around the country were able to test out the survey, and feedback their ideas as to how to better it, and of course engage their colleagues in its completion. It also offered the HR team the chance to dispel some of the myths around where the results of the survey would end up.
It proved to be positive experience – the champions left fired up and able to spread the word that taking part in the survey could actually make things change. It really helped to point out that things can and will progress as long as they are discussed openly. The survey provides a tool that allows that to happen.
But of course, employee engagement isn’t a one way street. And in order for our employees to feedback effectively, we need to ensure they are kept informed too, only then will they be aware of how their actions can affect the wider business.
To tackle this, we developed “The Big Picture” which every employee took part in. This was an interactive session that enabled our people to discuss how our long term business objectives and plans were being delivered, and explained the shorter term challenges facing the business, the financial realities and how we were adjusting to the economic conditions.
It was designed to engage employees with these challenges in a fun, compelling and participative manner, offering the opportunity for conversation in mixed groups helped people make sense of the changes needed in the business and provide shared goals as a focal point for discussions.
This different, innovative and ambitious approach has provided Arriva with a platform for growth to the benefit of our employees and customers. Following the Big Picture sessions our employee survey showed that the percentage of employees who were aware of what the company wanted to achieve in the next 12 months increased to 67%, an increase of 34%. Additionally, employee survey results showed 84% of employees understood how their work contributed to the company’s goals.
Three years on and our strategy has evolved, so to continue to keep our employees informed of our changing goals, we launched our second interactive Big Picture tool. The latest phase aims to emphasise not only the group’s five core values, but the wider scale of the group now that it is part of DB. To help ensure these messages were effectively disseminated, we began in early 2014, rolling-out the programme, where employees work in teams to create Big Picture 2 – a giant jigsaw puzzle designed to make people really think.
Big Picture 2 doesn’t shy away from the harder messages – in essence, it’s the sum of the smaller parts, from finance, through marketing, and into operations, making all of our employees aware of the big part that they play in the success of the business. We created it because our individuals matter to our business, and we need to show them just how much. Together we are Arriva, and together we will continue to grow.
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