People Powered Business

In March I was a judge at the Employee Experience Awards at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London. I have previously judged at the Customer Experience Awards, so this was a first for Employee Experience.


It was inspiring to see so many companies there, those brands we all recognise to ones that were less well known. We had companies with 40 employees to those with over 10 thousand.   All had stated a rapid growth in their business, which had caused some of the challenges.

Some cited that they had been experiencing other challenges prior to a change in focus such as rises in attrition, sickness increases, productivity drops and declining customer satisfaction.

What was amazing to hear were the examples of creativity, from launching a large-scale games room, setting up volunteering projects, to adopting a school. All of these amazing achievements have contributed significantly to an increase in employee engagement, whilst also helping their local communities in a big way.

The most significant thing for me were the brilliant basics that business leaders spoke about, the things that they had forgotten about, the things that mattered most to their colleagues. I have grouped these under five themes below.


Colleagues were given tasks, sometimes business issues, or asked for their ideas to improve something. One business spoke about major cost savings that it needed to make, or it could have resulted in redundancies and the colleagues rose to that challenge and found lots of way to save a significant amount of money. Others spoke about colleagues creating training videos for other colleagues to benefit from.

Collaborative Teams:

Several leaders spoke passionately about the new collaborative teams that had been formed. The silo’s had been broken down and teams established with multi disciplines such as sales, technical, customer service, operations all working together towards a common goal. Daily team scrums had now been formed – I can just imagine all these teams every morning scrumming to discuss their daily tactics!

Mark Horsley CEO, Northern Gas Networks who was awarded Inspirational Leader of the Year, said that his focus had been on the people in the business through breaking down the big organisational culture and silo’s into 9 patches – one of those patches even calls themselves a family now. They treat it like their own business.


There were lots of examples of how recognition schemes had been put in place to catch people doing things right. The really creative ones included a Ferris wheel, cupboard of desire, colleague crowdsourcing, and supper clubs. None of these were recognition scheme that required significant capital or opex approval; they were creative, fun things that the colleagues were inspired by. One company even displays their colleague awards on the website so that customers can see who is being recognised.


There were great examples of the simple form of verbal communication, to those that were maximising the use of digital channels through their own team Facebook pages, to team blogs, team video’s shared across the business. It’s about making communication fun a place where people want to read or watch it, and learn something along the way.


All of the above points led to this, creating personal ownership for their results. People feeling and behaving like it was their own business and their results being rewarded. We heard about colleagues sending a customer, who had been through a difficult change, a photo of the team that had helped him along with a bottle of champagne at the end of the transition. Another customer who stated he liked cheesy Doritos, so they sent him a big bag of them – which he then tweeted about. To examples where colleagues had upto £350 per person, to make a decision on anything that would improve the customer experience.

People power business, they serve customers, they develop things, they service internal customers – they are the most valuable asset in any organisation and what powers people is emotion. All these leaders had created an environment that allowed colleagues to become engaged in the business in a way that made them feel what they thought mattered and feel better about coming to work each day.

All the shortlisted businesses at the Employee Experience Awards on Friday were worthy of recognition for the focus that they are placing on their people. The winners and runners up will be posted shortly on the website. I do hope the celebrations have continued back at base this week following a spectacular afternoon of awards.  I am looking forwards to next years!