UK energy company achieves significant engagement uplift with 15,000 employees

Key facts and figures

Business priorities: Vision, strategy and values
Sector: Energy, Retail and Trading
Lead contact: Head of Employee Engagement and Change
Employees in the picture: 15,000 people
Locations: England and Scotland
Lead time to launch day: 8 months
“We have set clearly the ambitions of the company; the global vision, the global picture – and ‘Our Compelling Story’ has been instrumental in reaching this position”.

Chief Executive Officer

Our client’s challenge

EDF Energy is one of the UK’s largest energy companies and its largest producer of low-carbon electricity. A wholly-owned subsidiary of the EDF Group, one of Europe’s largest energy groups, they generate around one fifth of the UK’s electricity and currently employs around 13,000 people. They supply electricity and gas to around 5 million residential and business customers, making them the biggest supplier of electricity by volume.

The first EDF Energy ‘Our Compelling Story’ learning map system was developed with BigPicture Learning and the company’s 70-strong Senior Leadership Team – and was used as the basis for manager-led workshops across the company from March 2010. The large, visually-rich picture contained information about EDF Energy – celebrating the past, conveying the present and painting a picture of a new and inspiring future.

It gave teams of 8-10 people the opportunity to explore content in a challenging and enjoyable way, using interactive learning materials such as discussion prompts, card matching exercises, a jigsaw puzzle and quizzes. Using this approach helped to encourage discussion and understanding of key learning points, tapping into the knowledge and opinions of everyone involved. The ‘solutions focus’ of supporting materials – e.g. ‘what’s working already?’, ‘how can we make things even better?’ – facilitated positive and constructive debate. Its four sections included:

  1. ‘What we’re all here for’ – Our vision and mission; industry context and challenges
  2. ‘What we need to stay focused on’ – Our ambitions, milestones, metrics
  3. ‘How we need to work together’ – Bringing our values to life for each team
  4. ‘What we need to do’ – Our biggest hopes; actions needed to move us forward

The launch (click here to see more about our launch phase) began in March 2010 and more than 14,788 employees (some 96%) took part.  It was also built into the induction process for new employees.  Following on from the success of ‘Our Compelling Story’, EDF Energy followed-up with a second Learning Map System called ‘Feel Better Energy’ in 2013 which took engagement to even higher levels.

The Learning Map Systems developed are used in conversations between employees, contractors, partnering companies and visitors alike. The second ‘big picture’ now provides the backdrop to a new digital site, with over 30 interactive hotspots, providing an accessible and sustainable on-line resource which continues to bring EDF Energy’s journey to life.

Our solution and results

In January 2009, British Energy was acquired by EDF Group and work began on integrating EDF Energy and British Energy activities -including refreshing the vision, mission, ambitions and values. Results from a November 2009 Employee Engagement Survey (EES) showed employees were keen to know more about the company’s direction – and how they could play their part in ‘Leading the Energy Change’ through day-to-day activity.

More specifically, this November 2009 Employee Engagement Survey showed EDF Energy that they also still had ‘lots to do’.  The feedback told them they needed to:

  • Share their new Vision, Mission, Ambitions and Values
  • Help people get to know the new company – wherever they had come from
  • Create a fuller sense of ‘One Company’ – and a new sense of pride

More than 14,788 employees (some 96%) took part in the original series of workshops and content was also used as part of induction for new employees. End-of-session reactions from participants were hugely favourable:

  • I enjoyed my ‘Our Compelling Story’ session (93% positive response)
  • Participating in the session was a good use of my time (87% positive response)
  • Our session leader encouraged everyone to get involved (98% positive response)
  • Our session leader was well-prepared for running the session (98% positive response)
  • I’m looking forward to playing my part in ‘Leading the energy change’ (91% positive response)

Survey results in November 2010 showed a solid improvement in positive responses for engagement drivers (e.g. leadership, change management, communications):

  • I believe strongly in EDF Energy’s ambitions (+9%)
  • I believe EDF Energy’s Executive Team has a clear vision for the future (+8%)
  • What kind of job is EDF Energy’s Executive Team doing in providing leadership? (+9%)

There was also a statistically significant difference between the responses of people who had attended a workshop versus those who had not. These results, coupled with local success stories, assured EDF Energy’s Executive Team of the return on their investment and development work for a second chapter of ‘Our Compelling Story’ began in July 2012.

The roll-out of the second series of workshops has achieved similarly positive results; those attending sessions report higher levels of engagement, felt much more connected to EDF Energy and have ‘reported doing something different’ in line with their ‘Company Ambitions’ as a result. Furthermore, employees who have attended both workshop sessions reported the highest levels of engagement – showing a powerful cumulative effect over time.

In addition, EDF Energy won external recognition for the work they had done with BigPicture Learning.

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