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Pushing up employee engagement is not all talk at TalkTalk

TalkTalk is working hard at boosting its engagement with employees through a number of initiatives focusing on career development, the working environment, and rewards and recognition. By Glynn Davis


Pushing up employee engagement is not all talk at TalkTalk

Ahead of presenting at the 6th Retail Bulletin HR Summit in London on October 8th, Jenny Davidson, interim head of rewards at TalkTalk, outlined the changes that have taken place at the company so far and some of its future plans.

Against a backdrop of a number of separate businesses coming together to form TalkTalk she says the challenge had been to create one business with a clarified structure where employees knew their roles and where they sat in the overall organisation.

Through various positive actions that have involved all 2,000 contracted employees and 2,000 more from partners – such as outsourced call centres and engineers – employees have been taken on a journey of engagement.

Davidson says the success of this work has pushed the employee engagement levels up from 50% to 73% over the last two years, according to the annual engagement survey: “This is good but not great and the whole HR project now is to make this a great place to work and to take engagement from 73% to 85%. Google is one of the benchmarks.”

One area of focus is the working environment - to ensure the correct level of space is provided to avoid crowding and that there are sufficient meeting rooms and space to have ad-hoc private conversations. The canteens are also being looked at – mainly at the TalkTalk Warrington site where there is not the level of external catering options as at the London site.

Davidson says another area that is being refreshed is the company’s rewards and recognition whereby the on-the-spot recognition vouchers are no longer distributed by managers in blocks twice per year but are instead awarded continuously through the year.

Such rewards are also likely to move online as part of a “huge online agenda” that involves using an online recognition site that will allow rewards to be held in an employee account and will also enable verbal recognition to be distributed online.

“The business driver to go online is improved customer service and cost savings. From an HR perspective it’s about managing lives. We’re using the Workday solution that is held in the cloud so employees can access it on their mobile, desktop and laptop. It will make it easier for them to live their lives as we have a vision that they will use it to book holidays, book overtime, and change their addresses themselves online,” explains Davidson.

There are also plans to overhaul the current incentives plans – based on performance management – whereby it is “more aligned to the business’ objectives”. This is likely to be developed in October, according to Davidson, who clearly has lots of initiatives afoot that she hopes will take her to her target of 85% employee engagement.

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