United Utilities – Measuring and monitoring a service-based culture
Published: 25 September 2023
2 minute read
United Utilities Group PLC is responsible for water and wastewater services for 7 million customers in the North West of England. Background To ensure better outcomes for customers, the group has improved its people, digital and data proposition by combining customer service and people under one functional role. This role is responsible for establishing the links between employees and customers, and delivering service excellence. The group also recognised that culture was the key to delivering both an inclusive and ‘best in class’ service for its customers and employees, also supporting its digital transformation.
The Board and Leadership agreed that using data and insight was integral to the organisation’s transformation. A culture dashboard was established and populated with existing data on people, purpose and business process.
The company adapted a model from the Dennison culture model, and assimilated the data, providing the Board and wider Leadership team with a tool to consider all the indicators, and fuel conversations. The culture dashboard also allows Leadership to look at culture differently, supporting conversations around strategic priorities and helping with key decision-making.
The dashboard was supplemented with an active employee voice panel, which is chaired by a NED and made up of a cross-section of 30 individuals from all areas in the organisation. The panel amplifies the employee voice to the Board and participates in deep dives on topics identified by the culture dashboard indicators – providing insights and understanding around what people are seeing, hearing and feeling.
The dashboard is owned by the Head of Customer and People – who works alongside colleagues from other areas such as safety, quality and compliance, to collect and better understand what views and issues sit behind the data. It is also used in other settings, including by the People Leadership Team to propose actions biannually at board meetings, in the development of the annual report, and is considered by a number of steering committees (such as Health and Safety).
The Board and Leadership also recognised the need to upskill and build capability across key functions to use and manage data in order to drive the change. HR considers different elements and joins the dots across functions, looking beneath reported numbers, RAG status or benchmarks. HR Business Partners discuss the inputs to the culture dashboard with local management, spotting trends and supporting any follow-up actions. Any key insights are reported back to the Board and Leadership.
Metrics and inputs that provide insight into the company culture constantly evolve as the company continues its digital transformation. Six-monthly reviews are planned to keep the dashboard up to date and focused on measures critical to providing a service-based culture for customers and their people.
The culture dashboard has given the Board and Leadership a deeper understanding of the company’s culture. As a result of the follow-up actions, they have been able to report higher levels of engagement. This includes a top 20 position on Glassdoor for employers, recognised as in the top 1% for ED&I (in their sector) and now positioned in the upper quartile for customer service measures.