As an organisation of 15,000, engaging and developing our people and giving them the freedom to perform is a priority. In 2020 our people had to adapt to a radically different way of working yet kept delivering vital services to communities across the UK. The ways we adapted to working through COVID-19, including new ways to communicate and stay engaged we developed, will continue and develop into the future.
Engagement through COVID-19
At the very start of the pandemic we realised the need to strengthen engagement with our employees particularly. To enable people to be safe at work or at home. This meant equipping our managers with centrally driven frameworks for safety, communications and employee development which could be tailored to the needs of individual depots and localities.
Our covid-19 Steering Group brought together all enabling functions and representatives from the business to rapidly develop people-centric solutions.
- Ways of Working (WoW) conversations We WoW Conversations; 1:1 conversations with line managers, focused on flexible working and wellbeing, using a structured template to discuss personal challenges and needs. We reaffirmed our full commitment to working flexibly. These conversations confirmed that we already had 1,000 people on flexible working terms, plus 1,400 transitioning to flexible terms. We now have 4,500 people working in a hybrid of home and office.
- Regular communication and engagement Maintaining a regular flow of communication and engagement with our employees has been essential over this period. To ‘temperature-check’ our employees’ wellbeing, level of commitment and safety, we ran regular online Pulse Surveys. We continued to publish, print and distribute our Hub magazine for employees, spotlighting the impact our front-line teams were making during the pandemic. We introduced a Director Hotline, providing a direct route to a member of our Executive Committee.
- Changemaker relaunch During the summer we relaunched our Changemaker network to drive greater employee representation and input to future business initiatives and decision making. The Changemakers’ job is to be a voice for our teams, act as the go-to person for change and make sure that everyone has a say on what happens at Amey. In total we have 136 Changemakers representing all levels of our organisation and every sector we work across.
- Maintaining pay for COVID-19 absence Until Sept 2020, we provided full pay for all COVID-related absences, without impact on the employee’s ongoing sickness entitlement. This meant no-one felt pressured to come to work if they had symptoms of COVID-19. We had over 250 people shielding whom we also kept on full pay, so that none of our employees would suffer financial hardship through relying on statutory sick pay.
- Doubling down on safety and wellbeing Before masks became compulsory, we sourced a nanotech face covering for every employee. This went to their home address with a brochure detailing all of the wellbeing help they could secure free through our Employee Assistance Programme, which is open to employees and their families.
- Recognised our A*Stars Our A*Stars cards allow managers to say thanks to colleagues and team members for personal contributions such as delivering great customer service, helping a crucial project or just thinking of ways to be more efficient. At our A*Stars Awards in December we celebrated over 1,200 employees nominated by fellow colleagues; 30 were shortlisted for ten prestigious awards.
Improving our employee benefits
At the beginning of the year, we made a commitment to focus on the terms and conditions of our lowest paid employees. Central to this was paying the Real Living Wage, which we delivered in the first quarter of the year, raising the pay of 3000 employees. Following discussions with our preferred agency for temporary recruitment, we are also paying the Real Living Wage to approximately 1,000 temporary workers. We continue to explore options for extending the Real Living Wage working with the rest of the supply chain.
In addition, we:
- Lifted more than 3,000 employees out of statutory sick pay and on to a minimum of four weeks’ sickness leave on full pay and four weeks on half pay (after their probation period)
- Raised the annual leave entitlement for 5,178 employees to 24 days (from the statutory standard of 20 days per year)
- Doubled the Death in Service Benefit for front-line employees to twice the basic rate of pay
- Set our apprentice pay level to the adult National Minimum Wage for all at £8.72, a considerable uplift from the National Minimum Wage for apprentices of £4.15. More than 150 apprentices saw their pay rise as a result. On qualification all apprentices will move onto the Real Living Wage..
We continued to offer a range of benefits to all employees including:
- Choices, our flexible benefits scheme helps employees make the most of their money. With seven great benefits to choose from all year round including cycle to work, annual leave and gym membership, there’s something for everyone. In 2020 we increased the cycle to work certificate limit from £1000 to £3000, giving employees access to more bikes including electric bikes.
- Save with Amey, our online shopping portal, can save employees money on hundreds of days out, nights in or just evenings at home. In 2020 33% of employees used this benefit.
- Salary Finance introduced in 2019 helps employees to improve their financial health.
- Every employee received a festive hamper as a gesture of thanks from our Executive Committee during this difficult year. The content was sourced from British SMEs, including social enterprises, and were packaged and distributed by Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company.
Supporting employee learning and development
Offering continuous learning and development helps us remain an employer of choice and retain people and skills for the future. During the pandemic we maintained our commitment to learning and included some development activities to help individuals understand the role they had to play in the pandemic.
- In 2020 we developed and launched a new digital learning platform, LearnUpon, to reach our employees more efficiently. As a result we have been able to roll out multiple mandatory training requirements being developed by our Enabling Functions and Business Units.
- Our technical and compliance training continued as normal, while development training and coaching was moved swiftly online.