Our colleagues are our most important competitive advantage – that’s why we invest time, energy and resources in their learning and development, benefits, and health and safety at work. We aim to build a diverse workforce that reflects our diverse customer base. We also recognise the part colleagues play in building a successful business by delivering great customer service, supporting their local communities and reducing our impact on the environment.
What we’ve done
Throughout the year, we’ve worked hard to make Home Retail Group a great place to work by:
- Developing training and development programmes that give colleagues the skills and knowledge to deliver great customer service and advance their careers whilst also supporting their local communities.
- Responding to feedback to ensure the benefits package we offer meets the needs of our colleagues. We currently have 13,000 registered users on our benefits website which receives an average of 3,700 hits every month.
- Developing our systems to provide important data on absenteeism and voluntary turnover so we can identify and resolve issues more effectively.
- Promoting our community policy which supports and recognises colleagues who make a difference in their local communities.
- Recognised with a RoSPA award for occupational health and safety in the commerical and business sector
Acknowledging and promoting the successes of our best top health and safety performers and providing clear best practice guidance for the whole Group.
- Running colleague focus groups to help us improve the colleagues’ and customers’ experience in stores and to assess the effectiveness of our communications.
- Developing a partnership with Keep Britain Tidy and Keep Wales Tidy to support their Eco-School programme across 72 stores and primary schools in the UK, providing colleagues with the opportunity to share their horticultural skills and expertise.
Headcount split by gender
(as at 3 March 2012)
| Total |
|Headcount || |
|Part time || |
|Full time || |
|FTE || ||12,253 ||12,288 || |
74% of colleagues work part time
52% of colleagues are females
Colleague population split by age
(as at 3 March 2012)
|Under 18 || |
| ||16% ||19% |
|26-35 || |
|36-45 || |
| ||9% ||5% |
|56-65 || ||4% ||3% |
|Over 65 || ||1% ||1% |
|Total || ||52% ||48% |
These figures are as at 3 March 2012
Our colleagues play a vital role in delivering success and we want them to understand and contribute to what we’re trying to achieve. We keep them informed about our performance, strategy and other priorities through team briefings, conferences, roadshows, our intranet sites and colleague magazines. We also encourage them to tell us how they think we can become an even better business through our intranet, corporate responsibility website and colleague forums.
Our volunteering policy aims to build colleague engagement and pride, to support personal development and to enhance our employer brand. Colleagues have been using their two volunteering days to make a real difference in their local communities – either getting involved in team activities, our Company volunteering programmes or by supporting charities and community groups of their choice.
Colleagues and beneficiary organisations have all been extremely positive about the volunteering activity undertaken so far and momentum continues to grow in this area.
What we’ve done
We’ve continued to develop our community activity to provide support at a more local level. We donate to local charities and communities through our community prize fund draw and reward top fundraising stores and sites with gift cards that they can use to support a local charity of their choice. We also provide subsidised materials for colleagues undertaking volunteering projects.
Colleague opinion survey
Our previous Group-wide survey has consistently identified 'leadership and values' and 'development and opportunity' as being most important to our colleagues. We will focus on continually improving in these areas.
For the first time this year, Argos and Homebase have participated in the Best Companies Accreditation Survey. This provided us with the opportunity to measure ourselves against other UK 'Best Companies' as well as enabling us to ask a range of different questions to identify other areas of engagement for us to work on.
Homebase achieved a one star rating which is “first class” and Argos received a “one to watch” rating. Homebase were ranked at number 20 in 'The Sunday Times 25 Best Big Companies to Work for 2012'.
This year, colleagues provided over 1,500 ideas about how we can improve the way we do business in Argos. In Homebase 43 ideas collected by our ‘free2’ suggestion scheme have been successfully rolled out across the business and a further 89 are being investigated.
Some fantastic fundraising ideas from colleagues have developed into hugely successful national initiatives and helped to boost our support for Teenage Cancer Trust.
Reward and Recognition
Recognition schemes across our stores and offices continue to reward and recognise our colleagues' contributions to business performance. We also recognise their support for our charity partner, Teenage Cancer Trust, over 90 stores have been able to nominate a local charity to benefit from their amazing fundraising efforts through our 'Star Where You Are' scheme.
Learning and development
Learning and development
Giving colleagues the chance to learn and develop with us is vitally important. It ensures we have the skills we need to deliver great customer service and helps us identify our leaders of tomorrow. We offer a wide range of learning and development opportunities including:
- Training for accredited vocational qualifications
- Technical, functional and skills training
- Training in first aid, manual handling, security, recycling, waste management and health and safety
- Tailored programmes supporting specific business objectives or individual needs
- Management development programmes for people moving into leadership roles
- Fast-track programmes – including ‘Advance’ and ‘Aspire’ which support high-fliers moving from role to role
- Computer-based training courses that make it easier for people to learn in ways that work for them
- Volunteering programmes such as Eco-Schools which provide colleagues with the opportunity to use their horticultural skills and experience in a practical way
- Linking community activity to our High Potential development programmes
All our colleagues receive regular feedback on their performance and can discuss their development with their line managers.
What we’ve done
We’ve achieved an impressive list of successes this year:
- Over 800 colleagues in Homebase have completed a City & Guilds kitchen planning course
- The City & Guilds Painting and Decorating programme has been rolled out to 50 Homebase stores
- Homebase was recognised with an award for the City & Guilds accredited Homebase Gardening Licence which helps colleagues acquire a range of retail and horticultural skills
- Through the STEPS programme in Argos, colleagues have the opportunity to develop and enjoy better results, both for themselves and their working environment with achievement certificates awarded on completion of each block of modules
- 175 High Performance Argos store colleagues graduated from an internal course helping them develop in their roles and prepare for possible promotion – 66% were promoted following graduation
- Colleagues in our Distribution function had the opportunity to learn about courses, from IT to sign language to speaking Polish, which are offered at local colleges and universities as part of Adult Learners Week
- The ‘Learning Something New’ roadshow showed Distribution colleagues the wide range of development tools available to them, ranging from the intranet to a suite of workshops – all under the name of ‘Transforming You’.
To be a successful business we need to recruit and hold onto the right people. One of the ways we can do this is by offering them a comprehensive benefits package. We currently offer all our colleagues:
- A remuneration package that (in most cases) includes the opportunity to earn a bonus based on business or personal performance
- The chance to save tax-free for three or five years by buying Group shares at a 20% discount
- A discount on purchases – currently 10% off all catalogue items and gift vouches in Argos and a 20% off all Homebase purchases
- A great range of voluntary benefits through our ‘Discover’ scheme including childcare vouchers and private healthcare
We also provide benefits that encourage and incentivise colleagues to support good causes:
- A Payroll Giving scheme to donate regularly to charity – with all administration fees paid by Home Retail Group and their first donation matched by the company
- Our ‘Community Cashback’ scheme, which boosts colleagues’ fundraising efforts with a Group donation of up to £1,000
- Two paid volunteering days a year – to do their bit for a local charity or community group
- Access to subsidised materials if they participate in a local community project
We also offer our colleagues a discount on energy-saving products and services for the home, including cavity wall and loft installation.
What we’ve done
- Developed our ‘Discover’ benefits website, incorporating some of the benefits colleagues requested, including a new car leasing scheme which launched this year
- Continued our Company Sharesave scheme, with 7,000 colleagues (16% of those eligible) currently participating
- Developed programmes to support colleagues who want to take advantage of their two paid volunteering days including:
- Extended Homebase partnership with Keep Britain Tidy and Keep Wales Tidy to help local schools grow their own fruit and vegetables
- Developed the Argos work experience programme – ‘Work Inspiration’
- Led a Business in the Community ‘Business Class’ programme in Milton Keynes which aims to support disadvantaged local secondary schools
- Promoted our Payroll Giving scheme – recognised with a Platinum Award from HM Government
Health and Safety
Health and Safety
We’re committed to providing a safe and healthy environment in our stores, distribution centres and offices. We have robust control measures in place to minimise the risk of accidents occurring.
Managing health and safety
Our health and safety policy is reviewed every year and signed off by our chief executive, Terry Duddy, group HR director, David Guise, Argos managing director, John Walden, and Homebase managing director, Paul Loft. Our group HR director is responsible for implementing the policy and chairs a quarterly group strategic health and safety committee comprising of senior managers from across our business.
Health and safety committees in each of our businesses report into this group committee – these are both chaired by a senior manager. Health and safety champions are consulted and informed about health and safety on a regular basis and are responsible for cascading this information to colleagues across the business.
We have a dedicated full-time health and safety team, led by our health and safety manager – who also chairs the British Retail Consortium’s Risk & Safety Policy Action Group and is vice-chair of the the Institute of Safety and Health’s (IOSH) Retail and Distribution group committee.
Health and safety training
Our induction programmes for new starters cover general health and safety and we provide additional specific instruction for colleagues working in roles where it’s required – for example, fork-lift truck operations. Managers and supervisors in our stores and distribution centres also complete specially tailored training. We use our group-wide training management system to manage computer-based health and safety training.
What we’ve done
We track our safety performance using categories defined by the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR), including reportable incidents in Ireland as ‘IR1’ incidents.
This year we’ve achieved reductions across the Group in:
- RIDDOR/IR1s per 100,000 employees
- Overall number of lost time accidents
- Number of major injuries (Group and Homebase)
- Customer accidents
We have also been recognised with a RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) award in the commercial and business services sector
We delivered our second health and safety conference this year - sharing the latest advice and raising further awareness of the importance of health and safety. We launched an Accident "worse case scenario” programme for health and safety champions. This will be communicated via DVD to support all colleagues in dealing with some of the most challenging accidents. And at our Distribution Centres we launched a “Behaviour Safety” programme which will be adapted for stores over the next year.
All our Distribution Centres and Homebase stores and a minimum of 20% of our Argos stores are audited on an annual basis.