Learning Map intervention supports major performance turnaround at leading retail chain

Retailer uses gamified approach to inducting new employees in UK stores

Key facts and figures

Business priorities: Implementing Change
Sector: Retail
Lead contact: Head of Communications & Engagement
Employees in the picture: 36,000 people
Locations: United Kingdom
Lead time to launch day: 5 months

“The dramatic improvement in engagement over the last 18 months at B&Q has been unprecedented – three times the average.”

European Partner, Gallup

Our client’s challenge

At the time we worked with them, B&Q had enjoyed a period of consistent growth: strong sales, healthy profits and big bonus payouts. But, underneath the headline figures, the picture was a bit less rosy. B&Q hadn’t invested enough in its customer proposition. In a market where customer needs were shifting from traditional DIY to ‘do it for me’, they were losing ground to their competitors.

The result was that, when retail got hit by a downturn in consumer confidence, B&Q’s profits slumped. The business desperately needed to reinvent itself, to compete more effectively in a changing marketplace. Also, it needed to do it against a backdrop of sales pressure and a demoralised workforce..

B&Q introduced a ten-step recovery plan. As well as targeting short-term sales, it set out a clear agenda for reinventing the business in terms of store format, product range and – most importantly – the way people should think and behave. Of course, the biggest challenge was to get the strategy out of the boardroom and into the whole business.

Bringing the plan to life was basically about three things:

  • Explaining why change was necessary – and challenging any complacency that this was ‘just a blip’;
  • Setting out clear priorities to replace the prevailing sense of uncertainty;
  • Giving all 36,000 people in the business the same message.

This is the point where The Big Picture People got involved.

Our solution and results

B&Q achieved all three objectives by using a Learning Map – a very different style of communication for B&Q. The great value of Learning Map is that it forces you to be clear and succinct. Messages are communicated visually, which makes them easier to absorb. Everyone has the same information. The way the Learning Map is used – interactively, in small groups – means that everyone has the chance to get involved and air their opinions.

The impact was immediate. Within a short time, everyone in the business had a clear understanding of what needed to happen and why. Engagement levels (which had been falling off ) began to soar. There was a real sense of purpose about B&Q again.

Perhaps the most important lesson to draw from the B&Q experience is the value of following up. Elements from the Learning Map were incorporated in the staff magazine and other employee communications. Individual teams were encouraged to stick the Learning Map on their wall, so they could be used to reinforce the initial briefing – and give new starters a clear understanding of B&Q’s priorities.

Most significantly, the themes from the Learning Map were developed into a board game (4-3-3 & Me), aimed at the vast majority of B&Q’s staff who worked in stores. The game mirrored a typical customer journey, highlighting each area of the store in turn and allowing team members to identify specific, practical things they can do to provide a positive experience. Within a few months, customer satisfaction scores were consistently beating targets and employee engagement had reached a world-class level.

Ready to learn more about The Big Picture People?