We’re thankfully in an era where employee voices are actively being listened to more, and used to shape business policy, culture and inclusivity.
With over a fifth of our current team 25 and younger, and with an active desire to focus on social mobility that creates tangible opportunities for youth, we were aware that our Gen Z cohort think, feel and behave a little differently. How, then, do we better understand their viewpoints, their needs and, oh so importantly, tap into their creativity and ideas? It was at this point we reached out to one of our expert partners, The Youth Group (TYG), for guidance and support…we’re also fortunate enough to have their Founder and CEO, Jack Parsons, on our board of strategic advisors.
The resulting conversations were fruitful.
The first step we took was to get Youth Verified – a process TYG manage by surveying and interviewing members of our younger team to understand how they feel, the communication they receive, and the opportunities they feel they have. The end result? Resoundingly positive with Youth Verification status awarded and, significantly, guidance on three core areas we should continue to focus on; internal comms, mental health and employee networks (that would ultimately benefit every member of the team.)
And, so, it was with that began a journey to better understand, listen and empower all our team to speak up, share, learn and better support one another as we look to foster an environment that is truly inclusive.
We’ve now set-up more regular updates with each of our internal teams. Our team ‘Huddles’ bring each team together to share news, business direction, people updates and, at the core, celebrate the team and their achievements. It’s not only brought the teams together more frequently but it also provides an open environment for our younger employees to learn more about our business in a group setting so they can ask questions and contribute their ideas.
We’ve revisited our employee benefits and looked at how we can better explain and promote with regular internal communications and more focus on our social media.
Covid shone a light on the importance of mental wellbeing and so we amped up the support available at that time…what became clear, post our YV process, was that we needed to give a re-boot and better communicate what resources were available. We increased the profile of our ‘Mental Health First Aiders’ (a group of trained individuals who serve as initial points of contact) with, again, added emphasis on our social media and highlights in our internal comms. Sharing photos and contact details of each Mental Health First Aider has just made it easier for the team to recognise who they are and make them more approachable. And with our continued investment into mental health training, we’re ensuring that our leaders have the tools they need to support the mental health and wellbeing of their teams.
The third area of focus centres on getting better at bringing people together from all over the business. To be more curious. To learn more about each other’s diverse backgrounds and experiences. And to turn this knowledge into action and support that takes us one step closer to achieving the inclusivity we want. We still have more to do on this front but one significant step we have taken as a Group is the launch of ‘INclusiverse’ – the all-encompassing name for our equality, diversity, and inclusion initiatives – and the launch of our ‘The INclusiverse Podcast’. Here, hosts Nicolas Hamilton (British Racing Driver) and Kally Kaleda (Blue Square’s own Samsung Retail Programmes Manager) engage with Brand Partnership Group and Blue Square employees in candid conversations, bringing to light their personal stories that underscore challenges, optimism, and perspectives on inclusivity at work.
We’ve also partnered with ‘Belovd’, a diversity, equality and inclusion (ED&I) agency, who are supporting us with our strategy, education and training so we continue to improve our ED&I efforts and build a business with real integrity.
And, we also do bi-monthly Team Pulse surveys to try and understand how the team are feeling, what we can do better…that’s all wrapped up in our Team Happiness Index – a metric that’s now become the first thing the senior management team look at.
We are seeing increased engagement and positivity. More importantly, we’re seeing more people from across aspects of the business sharing their ideas, opening up and supporting each other. There’s so much we want, and can, do. It’s only the start of the journey for us – a journey we’re all invested in and one that’s a priority for our business.