Working with employees
We make it clear that the responsibility for career development rests with our employees, while working with them to help open opportunities. For those on our talent programmes, we allocate senior-level mentors based on the career path of each person, regardless of which department they happen to be working in. We also offer coaching via a management toolkit or qualified coaches throughout the business.
We encourage employees to broaden their career pathways as much as possible instead of following a linear strategy to get to where they want to be. As talented people progress through the ranks, we encourage them to get involved in projects and initiatives outside their remits by completing their work in four and a half days. The rest of their time is spent thinking of ways to develop themselves and the business.
We identify and develop people who have the potential to move rapidly through the company and join the board. Four talent programmes run in parallel, covering all organisational levels. These include one for junior employees – encompassing apprenticeships, industrial and graduate – and future leaders.
Other initiatives help people move out of their comfort zones to develop a mentality in which they and HR are equally responsible for their personal development. They have access to resources such as the executive leadership team through special projects, mentoring and a crossorganisation talent forum.
Participants on the programmes are nominated and chosen using our global talent differentiators, which combine leadership skills with EQ, drive and aspiration. We go to great lengths to distinguish between high performance and high potential individuals – each group having their own progression path. High performance individuals may exhibit sustained excellence over several years but to qualify as having high potential an employee must demonstrate EQ, strategic agility and drive.
Our talent management strategy is highly recognised within our organisation and over the last few years this has translated into industry recognition – being recognised externally for the quality of our talent programmes through our network, partners, national and local press and other external bodies.
Graduate, apprentices and the future
In the past two years we’ve focused on attracting graduates and apprentices. Many of our apprentices and young employees have voluntarily helped us to promote the company to the industry through the activities they are involved in or through talking to the media about their successes here. This is helping to establish us as an attractive employer, especially to ambitious young talent in the technology industry.
When they join, our employees see that people can progress quickly in their careers and that they can grow with the business rather than being forced down a linear career path. At least 80% of participants on our future leader programme have been promoted or moved into significantly bigger roles within three years.
Recognition from outside the business is important for attracting the best people. Over the past year, we have won or been shortlisted for seven industry awards for our talent programmes, most recently winning the ‘HR Excellence Award’ for best talent management strategy.
Before this we were recognised by the National Council for Work Experience for offering the best long-term placement programme.
The simplest way for us to measure how effective our talent programmes is to use promotions and bring our succession plan to life. On average those on our talent programmes are significantly more likely to get promoted because participants tend to be the high performance and high potential individuals that are driven to advance themselves.
During a major organisational restructure last year, 50% of critical senior roles were filled by people on a talent programme. Our retention rate stands at 92% among employees on these schemes.
The results of our recent annual employee engagement survey show that, on average, members of our talent pools score 10 points higher across all measures compared with the rest of the business. We attribute this to involving our talent in strategy creation – either through workshops or in executive-sponsored business-critical projects.
We set ourselves a target ratio of 70:30 for internal versus external hire, which we are surpassing with a ratio of 80:20. This has delivered cost savings of around £40k per senior hire and has provided talent with excellent stretch opportunities.