In 2008/09 we embarked upon a series of new initiatives aimed at developing the knowledge, skills and engagement of our employees, whilst also building on others launched in recent years.
A genuine incentive for our store managers
Coinciding with the roll-out of a series of international store operating standards, we have implemented a new incentive programme for store managers (and selected area managers) in our largest operating companies – including B&Q UK, Castorama France and Brico Dépôt France. The standards cover key operating basics such as the presentation of stores, stock and point of sale materials. Managers whose stores achieve the standards receive Kingfisher shares equivalent to approximately six months’ salary, but the shares only vest if the standards are then maintained for an unbroken period of three years.
Developing talent and sharing knowledge
The Kingfisher Executive Group (KEG) and Kingfisher Talent Group (KTG) continued to be the focus of our efforts towards identifying, developing and retaining the next generation of Kingfisher business leaders. Members of each group benefited from a number of development opportunities throughout the year, including a dedicated learning event for KTG members at the Group’s annual Management Forum.
During the year we also looked to exploit the unique advantages that come from being the most internationally-diversified home improvement retailing group, not least the ability to add value through sharing knowledge, experience and customer insight between our established and younger businesses.
The plan to turn around B&Q China is one example of this process in action. A number of senior B&Q UK employees are now working in China, including Matt Tyson, who brings 24 years’ retailing experience to the role of Chief Executive of B&Q Asia, and Joe Riordon, who was previously Services Director at B&Q UK and is now leading the project to transform the Chinese customer proposition.
Also part of that project are Robin Wilson and David Brown, who between them have amassed 37 years’ retailing experience at B&Q UK, including a number of store openings and revamps. Robin and David arrived in China in January 2009 to begin a six-month assignment to help the local management teams achieve a change programme that touches every part of the business.
Brico Dépôt Spain is another developing business receiving a helping hand from experienced colleagues in other parts of the Kingfisher world. Among those lending their support and expertise is Pascal Gil, who transferred from Castorama France in November 2008. Pascal had spent the previous five years in store management, the latter two running Castorama’s top French store by turnover, in Bron.
As Operations Director for Brico Dépôt Spain, Pascal is responsible for implementing a commercial strategy across the 16 stores currently operating. Pascal is also part of the senior management team, giving him the opportunity to take part in the evolution of the economic model for the business.
Practical training to deliver expert service
Our businesses continued to break new ground with learning and development programmes for their employees. In the UK, B&Q launched two qualifications accredited by City & Guilds, the UK’s leading vocational awarding body.
B&Q will be supporting up to 10,000 of its Customer Advisors as they work towards a new NVQ Level 2 in Retailing Skills. City & Guilds has also worked closely with B&Q on the development of the UK’s first nationally recognised Home Improvement Knowledge qualification, which was launched in October 2008 with up to 5,000 B&Q staff set to undertake it in 2009.
Meanwhile, as part of the Group’s corporate responsibility agenda, Castorama France has developed a number of e-learning modules for store employees focused on eco-products. The training is designed to help them guide customers on how to make their homes more sustainable, covering areas including garden, decoration and building. B&Q UK launched a similar e-learning module for staff. B&Q has also appointed an Environmental Champion in every store to help promote awareness of environmental issues among their colleagues.
Employee engagement: measuring to manage
Measuring employee engagement allows us to quantify how well we are maximising the talent within our organisation. In 2008/09 we extended the Gallup Q12 survey – which has been used successfully by B&Q UK since 2000 – to more than 1,300 leaders across the Group. The Q12 survey generates one of the world’s most comprehensive databases on employee engagement, with some 5.4 million people from 500 businesses completing it each year.
The two Q12 surveys conducted by Kingfisher during the year tracked a rise in overall levels of engagement from 3.75 to 3.95 (from a maximum 5), described as a “significant increase” by Gallup Consulting and approaching the 4.24 mean score benchmarked as “top performing”. Group businesses with notably strong or improving engagement among their leadership teams include Castorama France, which demonstrates world-class engagement levels, Castorama Russia, Brico Dépôt and B&Q China.
In recognition of the continued improvements in its employee engagement, B&Q UK has, for the third year running, been awarded the Gallup Great Workplace Award. B&Q remains the only UK business and only multi-site retailer to have received this award.
B&Q continues to be recognised for its commitment to promoting age diversity. Around a quarter of its employees are aged over 50 with a similar percentage under the age of 25.
Georgina Wilson is one of 420 employees who volunteered for a pilot running of B&Q UK’s new NVQ Level 2 in Retailing Skills course.