Little did Severn Trent know in early 2018, as the company wrote its business plan for 2020-25, that one month before it was due to be delivered, a global pandemic would hit and cause the firm to completely switch up its plans while also keeping employee experience at the forefront of its mind.
Employees were involved throughout the planning process, including through the organisation’s Bike on a Boat Tour, named after the New Zealand sailing team who travelled to the Americas Cup boat race with bikes on their boat and revolutionised how they delivered enhanced performance.
The initiative for Severn Trent saw the CEO host nearly eighty 90-minute events over eight weeks to talk to every employee about the changing regulatory landscape and the innovation needed within the plan. Severn Trent also introduced a fund so employees could pitch to go on “innovation fact finding missions”.
After launching the plan in an airport hangar with the four sections of the business plan built in a fully immersive, interactive and engaging experience, Severn Trent also introduced several communications channels, including Comms Cells, where teams could meet to discuss their outcome delivery incentives (ODI) performance; a CEO video blog; an all-company news bulletin; and a monthly collaboration event.
The company had previously also overhauled its employee engagement survey in 2019 to provide a “more intuitive” system that gives instant results and benchmarking data, and established employee D&I advisory groups for LGBTQ+, ethnicity and disability.
Improving employee experience also included offering “ultimate flexibility” for parents and carers with flex hours or roles, as well as personally contacting over 600 of its vulnerable colleagues to put in place personal care plans, and establishing a 24/7 comms operation with daily (sometimes more) updates, meaning that 20 minutes after an announcement from the prime minister, teams would know how it impacted them.
The company’s pivot during Covid saw it not only confirm that it wouldn’t furlough any teams, but instead repurpose roles where necessary and also confirm no redundancies as a result of Covid.
The judges commended Severn Trent for having a “clear line of sight” from the employee to the purpose of the business, as well as a “good variety of interventions and evidence of impact”. They also said that the organisation had kept on track through Covid as well as having innovation and “using ideas from lots of inspiration”.