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Engaging with our Partners

Engagement improves motivation and morale, and creates a workplace where everyone feels valued and able to perform at their best. As co-owners, Partners naturally have a say in how we run our business. Our democratic network of elected councils, committees and forums enables Partners to voice their views, and challenge management on business activity.


In 2010/11, Partnership Council meetings included sessions where Partners described ‘what it feels like to be a Partner’. There were positives such as pride, the excitement of growth, surviving the credit crunch and the chance to shape the future. There were negatives too: concerns about pay, the need for better communication and frustration with technology. These honest insights are invaluable in helping us to address Partners’ concerns and areas for improvement.


We also communicate through our intranet and regular publications, including our in-house magazines the Gazette and the Chronicle. We produce online videos; for example, our ‘Charlie in Conversation’ videos show Chairman Charlie Mayfield talking with Partners about their views. Partners are then able to comment and continue the dialogue with him on the intranet.


Partner Survey

We seek Partners’ views on specific issues through regular focus groups and an annual Partner Survey. Our Partner Survey provides a way of getting feedback on issues ranging from pay and working hours to personal development and job satisfaction.


Our 2010 survey gathered the views of 89% of our workforce and 83% said they would recommend the Partnership as a great place to work. Also in 2010, we aligned our Partner Survey with our three Partner Commitments and, together with measures such as performance reviews, we used the results to set three Partner Strategy priorities:


*helping Partners be the best they can be

*inspiring leadership

*rewarding performance.


We also benchmark our survey scores against other companies. In the results of the 2010 survey, the Partnership was in the top 25% of companies for 15 of 28 questions. The survey findings are taken into consideration when deriving the priority areas for our Partner Strategy, and also inform business planning at Partnership, divisional and local levels.


The 2011 Partner Survey conducted in May will provide valuable feedback from Partners on our progress. Results will be available internally from late July and the overall results for the Partnership will be available on the Partnership’s website later this year.


“ Our engagement with Partners is based on the pride in the service and standards they offer, as well as the team ethic we’ve developed within the business. Partners genuinely enjoy working with each other and this translates into high levels of performance.”

Laura Whyte,

Personnel Director, John Lewis


“ When you are thinking about the decisions you make, you think: this is my business, this is my shop, what should I be doing?”

Gill Armstrong,

BRANCH Manager, Waitrose Witney


(Photo: Partnership Council meeting)

Embedding CSR into our daily activities relies on Partner involvement, so it makes sense to engage Partners when developing CSR strategies. For example, in reviewing our community programme, we held focus groups with Partners to gain their input on our approach. We also gained valuable Partner feedback during a session on CSR at our March 2011 Partnership Council meeting.

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