Staff Commitment, Engagement Strategies and Greggs

Staff Commitment

High street bakery, Greggs plc, faces a complex set of challenges when it comes to developing staff commitment and engagement strategies. Its 19,000 strong workforce throughout the UK encompasses everything from senior executives to shop managers and part-time workers. This level of diversity creates a multitude of issues, needs, demands and expectations.

Staff Commitment, Engagement Strategies and Greggs

Noreen Harrison is the organisation’s Group People Manager. Her role covers resourcing, staff retention, compensation and benefits, reward strategies and research. In short, everything that goes into getting and keeping people in the business.

“Retention is the flip side of the same coin,” she states. “If you get it right at the recruitment stage the likelihood of people wanting to leave is reduced. We give employee retention the same amount of focus as recruitment. It’s part of everything we do.

Recruit to the Values is a structured and rigorous interview process for all roles and it’s the cornerstone of Greggs staff retention strategy.

“It’s not just about having the right experience and qualifications, people have to fit our culture,” Noreen explains. “If they don’t match the culture, they aren’t right for the business.”

Greggs recruitment process also discuss’ career progression at the interview. They aim to make candidates aware that it is positively encouraged.

Noreen added, “It lets them know development is possible without having to go elsewhere.”

Ironically successful recruitment and retention measures do bring their own problems. The business is ever changing and the approach Greggs had 20 years ago is no longer appropriate. Long-serving staff can find it difficult to adapt to new working practises.

Talent Management Strategies

Talent management also plays a big role in the company’s approach to staff retention. Through its Assessment Centres: Greggs assesses talent, how to keep it and crucially, how to develop key people into senior positions.

Much emphasis is placed on personal development. All managers undergo ‘values’ training programmes. In addition psychometric testing for managers, including shop managers, highlights training, development and, in some instances, behavioural needs.

Learn about Staff Satisfaction Surveys and Chesterton Global.

Engaging a Diverse Workforce

The workforce diversity influences the type of incentives Greggs offers. Staff engagement strategies are graded to fit a range of circumstances.

“We work to ensure it’s a good environment so people want to come to work and are proud to be a part of Greggs,” says Noreen. “We look at flexible working arrangements, part-time working; everything we can do to tempt people to stay.”

Greggs is very active in the community and encourages employees to get involved with initiatives such as breakfast clubs for school children.

“People love it because it’s their community and their issues,” says Noreen.

None of this is a cynical leap onto the corporate social responsibility bandwagon, nor is it a calculated staff retention strategy. The charitable work is ingrained into company culture. It makes the company a fun place to work and gives workers a sense of pride though it has obvious business benefits.

Falling into the Employee Benefits Trap

With such a large number of part-time staff, Greggs faces a very specific staff retention problem: the staff benefits trap. In exit interviews people often say, although they like the job, it’s not worth their while to work because of the benefits they lose.

Greggs pays more than the minimum wage but this doesn’t offer the same level of security as having the rent or mortgage paid.

There are challenges too from within the sector. In a year, Tesco are looking to employ a further 11,000 people. Sainsbury’s and Asda are looking for 7,000 and 10,000 new people respectively.

“Keeping people at this level is a big challenge,” admits Noreen. “But we need to put our resources behind the things we can do something about and not waste our time on the things we can’t.

The Cost of Staff Turnover

With such a large and varied workforce, the cost of recruitment is potentially high. It is for this reason that the interview process is so structured. However, it is lengthy. Four to five interviews, each lasting two or three hours, is not uncommon for executive positions.

Losing staff has an obvious impact on financial performance. If shops aren’t fully staffed, the result is long queues and customers will go elsewhere rather than wait. It goes without saying that if the bakeries aren’t staffed to optimum levels, productivity falls.

Learn about Talent Retention Solutions in Financial Services.

Employee Retention is not a HR Problem

Greggs has done a lot of research among staff, using surveys developed specifically for them by great{with}talent. The results indicated that vertical relationships were a main reason for staying or leaving.

“People often don’t leave businesses: they leave managers,” Noreen contests. “Line managers lie at the heart of how we manage people. The right solutions need to be found and implemented by line managers and HR working in partnership.

“The surveys also told us that people need to feel they are treated fairly and are respected. It’s often the small things that matter and sadly, they can get over-looked.”

Noreen added, “Managers at all levels need to celebrate successes with their teams. It doesn’t cost much to show appreciation or to be understanding and supportive. It’s a question of balancing their needs with the workload.”

Although the basis of the great{with}talent work was to examine the negatives, the company is also keen to know what makes people want to stay as this is an important element in understanding employee engagement factors.

Communications Plan

With such a large workforce, engaging employees and forging a sense of belonging needs good communication. As well as divisional and corporate newsletters there are bi-annual employee opinion surveys. These yield what Noreen describes as, “fabulous information.”

“The return rate is very high – usually 40%. The last one was actually 75%,” she says. “They give us a lot of information that we can feed into recruitment and retention initiatives.

Despite all these measures it’s inevitabe that people leave for a myriad of reasons.

Noreen explains, “It could be that the fit between their style and the business isn’t there after all.

“We put our resources behind those things that we can most affect which are making sure Greggs is a great place to work: that people are valued and that they fit with the culture of the business. We certainly don’t believe in a one size fits all approach.”

Contact great{with}talent and find out more about their TalentEngage employee engagement surveys.


(Main image from HR Examiner)

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