When Sainsbury’s crafted its ambitious Winning Team initiative to pull 116,000 employees across 1,400 teams together, incentivising the necessary calibre of performance – what it called WOW service– was essential.

The HR team knew that highly satisfied team members provided the best service to customers and that encouraging as many loyal customers as possible was vital to the long term sustainability of the business.

But what most impressed the judges was the way HR came together to put people right at the heart of the transformation, and were prepared to listen and manifest recommended changes from those impacted most. Part of this facilitation of purposeful work was creating a culture grounded in fairness.

Online surveys and listening groups followed by a meaningful consultation process saw employees extol the importance of a level playing field, and the process revealed that for many the current pay arrangements were overly complex and difficult to understand.

Changes that arose out of the consultation process included increasing the night shift premium and online driver premium rates and tweaking location pay proposals.

It also saw an increase to the business’s base rate of pay to a market-leading £9.20 per hour from September 2018 and the removal of an under-18s starter rate of pay. As a result, 94 per cent of the workforce were better off and the minority who weren’t were provided with a top-up payment of the difference in pay for 18 months.

To address complaints of prior complexity a number of booklets and individual impact summary sheets were distributed outlining how exactly team members were to be impacted.

Sainsburys’ ‘LOVE’ recognition scheme was enhanced, too, wherein individual colleagues and teams could be recognised for going above and beyond in their customer service through peer nomination.

Staff surveys after the changes were implemented in September 2018 have seen the percentage of those who agreed they were fairly paid for their work increase by 12. Customer satisfaction has improved by more than three per cent. Three-quarters (75 per cent) employees now have an additional skill and over 50 per cent have three.