Listening to colleagues in the Support Centre

Thursday 15 March saw 17 store colleagues gather in Angel Square’s ‘Innovation Centre’, a nerve centre of ideas and future store concepts from the Leading the Way team.

They were there to take part in March’s Store Manager Listening Session arranged by ourselves in Colleague Insight, a day that’s designed to provide an opportunity to hear from teams around the business, offer feedback on existing or upcoming pieces of work, and give us their thoughts and feelings on how things are for them currently.

An extra bonus of the day was an hour’s chat with our Retail Chief Executive, Jo Whitfield. The chance for an hour’s conversation with the boss is a rare one, and Jo was very willing to hear a “warts and all” view of the challenges our store colleagues are facing at the moment. You can read more about this on the Colleague Insight intranet pages.

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Jo Whitfield speaks to store colleagues during our Listening Session

 

As well as hearing from them, Jo was able to give an update on how things looked from her perspective and gave some pointers about what was to come up for Food in the rest of the year.

She left the group with 3 key messages to take back to their colleagues in store;

  1. Believe in the plan
  2. Put the customer first
  3. Look after our colleagues

As well as Jo, several business areas from around the Support Centre were able to sit and talk through their world with the colleagues present, asking for the current feelings on how things work at the store level.

Among the topics discussed were store KPIs, the communications cascade and the top shelves project, where the comments and experiences of the colleagues were extremely useful in deciding what we do in the future.

They also had the chance to talk to a project manager from the wider Co-op team who discussed the very early stages of a new training project.

The learnings from a day like this feed into our quarterly hackathons, and help us keep the voice of the colleague front and centre in the minds of all in the Retail Support Centre.

By the time you’re reading this we’ll have just finished Quarter 1’s Hackathon, an event where we gather 50+ colleagues in a big room and, as well as hearing about current projects, we get them involved in shaping future projects, working out solutions to the things that they’re facing.

If you’d like to be involved in either type of session in the future (and they’re not all held in Manchester), then email the team at colleagueinsight@coop.co.uk and we’ll be in touch telling you when the next session is.

How we’re simplifying crime reporting

In their recently published annual crime survey, The British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported that retail crime is at an all-time high having risen by 6% against 2016 to a staggering £700m.  The number of violent incidents has also seen a huge increase and reflects a growing concern in society around the challenges facing the retail industry in the UK.

When crime and security incidents occur in our stores it’s really important that every incident is logged. This enables our Retail Support Centre teams to monitor and analyse crime data and ultimately drive the actions and changes that help to keep our colleagues safe. The safety of our colleagues is always a priority, and we’ve listened to store colleague’s feedback on the existing reporting process – one of the biggest concerns our colleagues have raised is how time consuming it is for stores to report security incidents. Unfortunately this often leads to only a small number of incidents being reported, especially if it is relatively low value theft.

A Mobile Solution

Kingdom 1We’ve listened hard and based on this feedback we have been working with Kingdom to develop an app that will make this much easier for store teams to log minor security incidents. It’s stressful enough for our colleagues when they have to deal with incidents in store, so anything that can simplify the crime reporting process for our colleagues is hugely beneficial for our coop.

We recently released Kingdom Konnect – an app that give stores an easy and simple way to log incidents on their mobile devices. So after an incident, instead of having to go back into the office and log on to the PC, colleagues can now complete security incident reports on the go – whether it’s on the shop floor, at the kiosk, or in the warehouse. The app gives our colleagues a quick and easy way to log minor shoplifting and anti-social behaviour incidents – and it takes less than a minute to do. Many colleagues are already using the app, and we’ve heard some great feedback so far

“This is amazing! It’s easy to use and no excuse not to report crime….”

Liam, Cambridge

“It’s really brilliant to use – Everyone is using it. Logging incidents is much quicker than before. The ease of it is that it’s in your pocket so you can use it as soon as an incident happens”

Ian, Dunscroft

“It’s so much easier than logging it on the back office”

Hannah, Somerton

The information logged via the app is vital, as it allows us to gather greater insight and understanding of crime in our stores. Having access to this information in turn helps support centre teams make the right decisions for colleague safety and allows us to react with resource where needed.

Guard
Jamaal, our Guard at Butcher Hill has been using the new App

All stores will be given access when store tablets launch later this year, however we know from listening to colleagues that they welcome the opportunity to use their own devices in the meantime. So, if colleagues choose to, they can download and access from personal devices (Colleagues should see week 9’s Bulletin for info) . We’ve seen a fantastic number of colleagues starting to use it already. This is a great step forward in simplifying crime reporting for our stores, but we haven’t finished yet. Later in 2018, we have plans to introduce an all-encompassing Health and Safety system that will be accessible from our store mobile devices which will bring further improvements to help us support the safety of our colleagues in store.

Simplifying Fresh Reductions

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Removing complexity is one of the most important ways the Retail Support Centre can help our store colleagues. One of the most common issues we’ve heard from colleagues is that our fresh reduction process wasn’t working.

Colleagues told us our reductions matrix was too complicated and the timing was not right. Having different processes for long life and short life products adds complexity and can lead to products being missed and ‘out of code’ products being left. We were reducing too many products which is time consuming and damages customer perception about the quality of our food.

We’ve listened to colleagues, and to enable stores to focus on serving our customers at our busy times, we’ve made fresh reductions process a lot simpler. We’ve changed the frequency of the checks, and the exceptions. We’ve also empowered colleagues to choose the best time to complete first reductions for their store, and to override the iRTC system where they may have store-specific challenges which need to be taken into account.

When we trialed the new process, we had some really positive feedback from colleagues. But we also learnt a lot too. We’ve learned that following the new process exactly (as it’s written) is the key to saving time and reducing waste. But how have our colleague found the new process? We spoke to a few of our store colleagues to find out how the new process has impacted their stores….

“The new process is much better as it give us more time to get it right. Because we have until 10am on the product date it allows us to be more flexible.  If something unexpected happens like a late delivery, it means we can pick up the process the following morning. It’s helped eased pressure on the late jobs which has really reduced stress in store”

Gina, Petrol Harrogate Rd

“The new process is really much simpler and easier for us”

Ifte, Southwark Mill street

“It’s working really well, I didn’t think it would as our store previously had high level of waste, but since the new system was introduced our waste has been much better, our split has improved to 80/20…….Its so much simpler now that we use the same rule for both long and short life products, and we’ve found the system is giving a much better price on the first reduction”

Tammy, Alnwick Bondgate

But we aren’t taking our foot off the gas – We’ll continue too look at how the process can be improved – We’ll be using data from the new process to improve the suggested prices generated by iRTC which will help products sell through at the first reduction.  We’ll soon have simpler reporting to help us improve our range and waste, and we’ll be looking at introducing improvements to our ambient reduction process later in 2018.

Keeping our Stores Resilient

Keeping our Stores Resilient

Our role as the Retail Resilience and Response Team is to be the first to react when issues or incidents cause disruption to our stores. It’s our job to provide the intensive support our colleagues need by ensuring that any incidents that affect them are understood and dealt with quickly to allow our stores to continue to trade.

Resilience

Maintaining Continuity

It’s unavoidable that sometimes incidents will impact our shops, and when this does happen, it’s our role to act as the interface between Stores and Support Centre functions to ensure that normal operations resume as soon as possible. Central to this is providing a 24 hour response to critical incidents that require business continuity or RIMT (Retail Incident Management Team) invocation.

We do this by acting as a co-ordinator for the Stores behalf, providing a hyper-care  process, liaising closely with support desks and performing root cause analysis of incidents. We escalate issues where required and instigate wider business continuity plans  in order to gain traction to resolve issues and return stores to trading with minimal effort and impact to the store.

Support when it’s needed most

Just last week, colleagues at our store in Nursling were affected by a serious armed robbery.  When opening the store, colleagues were subject to a robbery during which four men armed with crowbars took money out the safe and tills, and all the cigarettes from the gantry. The two colleagues were locked in the office, with cages barricaded against the door.

In the aftermath of the incident, the Resilience and Response team co-ordinated a great response from key support centre functions to minimise the disruption to the store and to support colleagues.  Colleague welfare was prioritised, with affected colleagues referred to counselling. In addition to this, the team sent in the store’s Risk officer to provide further support, arranged for replacement till drawers, and equalised the stores hours.

We also supported the store with the many other fixes they needed to help get them up and running – including looking at hours with TARA and chasing work orders with the Facilities team, and in this instance the store was able to resume trading later that day.

 “It was amazing service from everyone, absolutely amazing – Emily from Response has been absolutely wonderful – all the store managers to Area Managers right up to our Divisional Managing Director have been brilliant, the level of support you brought in from the Response team has been amazing

Jan, Nursing Store.         

When our stores face disruption, we’re there to support them through it, but it doesn’t end there. To ensure we can continue to co-ordinate this support, in the background we’re continually gathering data and insight for analysis which is crucial to enable the business to make informed decisions to drive continuous improvement. This means we can continue to be there to provide the best possible support for store colleagues when they need us most.

What happens after ‘submit’?

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The first 6 weeks of 2018 have already seen over 160 ideas and suggestions come in from colleagues around the business, but what happens to these ideas once they land with the Colleague Insight team?

Our first step is to add them to our growing database of ideas, where we categorise all incoming submissions by what area of the business they align to and what type of idea they are. The overwhelming majority of submissions we get are about topics that various teams in the RSC are already working on fixing, with projects that are either just getting started or well under way. When we get an idea that relates to this, our first step is to engage with project manager and offer them the feedback; they’re the subject matter expert and they’ll know how best to quantify what’s come in.

Sometimes, we’ll take a little longer in getting some feedback across to the teams here, but that’s because we want to present a full picture of what’s being said. If one colleague has suggested that a plan should be done in a certain way, but then 3 other colleagues suggest it should be done in a different way, we need to report that fairly.

One example we had last year involved two colleagues from different parts of the country who, in the space of a week, suggested completely opposite and opposing solutions to an ISB-related issue. So for us, getting it right can sometimes be tricky.

LAF

Alternatively, we often get a lot of feedback all saying the same thing; that happened only recently with the publication of the Q1 Rhythm and Routine book. We got a lot of feedback in a short amount of time from people all saying they missed having the financial information pages, so from Q2, this will return.

A recent innovation from the Colleague Insight team has seen us use hackathons to not only gather suggestions, but work through solutions together. Our first one last November proved successful, so we’ll be hosting our next one in Manchester on March 22nd. If you’d like to get involved, leave a comment and an email address and we’ll get back to you.

 

‘How Do I?’ The Story So Far

I’m Marc and I’ve been with the Co-op now for over 9 years working my way from Customer Team Member to a Team Manager. For the past 6 months I’ve been working on the ‘How Do I?’ site with 5 colleagues from stores – rewriting policies to replace the old CITRUS ones. In November the site launched to all stores, and since then the site has had over 250,000 page views and our store colleagues have shared over 600 pieces of feedback.

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Actioning the feedback

With each piece of feedback we always look at ways we can try and improve the site to make it easier for colleagues to use and understand. Whether that be from making a certain process easier to follow, or adding in links to related content so that it takes less time to find what you’re looking for. We’re continuously fine-tuning things to make it as easy and straightforward to use as possible.

The more feedback we get, the better we can make ‘How Do I’. There is the option on every page to send in feedback including any issues with finding content on the site. So if you search for something and it’s not immediately clear where it is, changes can be to make it easier to find.

Taking the bad with the good

Obviously it’s not always rainbows and butterflies – as much as it’s great to hear how colleagues are really enjoying using the site, it’s great getting feedback on any opportunities or challenges too. We encourage all colleagues to share any feedback, no matter how minor, as even if it’s only a small change, there’s likely to be someone else who might be thinking the same. It’s this feedback that drives the improvements that are continuously being made – such as adding keywords that have been searched and improving the search engines priorities.

What’s next?

The ‘How Do I’ homepage has just been improved, so it’s now clearer to see what policies have been recently updated. You can not only see what the policies are but also a description of what has changed – so there’s no need to search through the page to find the change. This year there are plans to look at making ‘How Do I’ available on own devices so you’ll be able to use the site whenever you need to, not limiting the site to just on a computer. If you haven’t already, why not go and give it a look yourself!

Marc Kurucz

Team Manager, Petrol Marple

 

 

Approaching Risk Collaboratively

Risk Team

For the Food Risk Team, keeping our stores safe for our colleagues and customers is our number one priority, and through 2018 we will be taking a more collaborative approach to look at how we can improve store operations.

A New Approach

The food business has invested a great deal to re-invigorate our approach to risk, and key to this is establishing a dedicated Food Risk team within the Retail Support Centre. For a long time Risk has been a Group function, but we believe that stores deserve a front line risk support team who are in touch and engaged with our food stores, and can act as a first-line support.

Bringing in Experience

The new team brings together experienced risk colleagues into the Food support centre to support stores. Our team of 24 Food Risk Support Officers (FRSOs) will bring with them a huge amount of experience and working within food they will be closely aligned to our stores with one clear objective – to make our stores safer for colleagues and customers.

What Stores will see

From 4th February the FRSOs will be embarking on a series of operational assessments which will run through 2018. But where previous audits have been focused on spot-checks and reactively supporting stores after incidents, our new approach will be more collaborative. For each assessment, the team will be spending around 6 hours in your store – looking at all elements of store operations and operational compliance. We’ll be looking at processes that we have never reviewed before, and by spending more time in stores and speaking first-hand to colleagues and store teams we will have a great opportunity to identify where processes aren’t working, and to speak to colleagues on the front line to get their insight on how things can be improved and simplified.

Benefits for stores

This is also a great opportunity for our store colleagues to speak to the team and give your feedback and insight on how we can improve things. We will be using the data and insight we gather during the assessments to feed in to the Retail Support Centre to drive the changes, improvements and opportunities that will make your stores simpler and safer for colleagues, customers and members.  The Team are really excited about this can’t wait to get out to meet you.