Good Work for All: Why Greggs offers progression on a trial basis

Greggs found that staff were reluctant to apply for promotion because of the formal interview process. To address this the bakery chain created trial promotions so staff could experience the new job without pressure. Two hundred employees have now been through this process with almost three quarters being successful and appointed into previously hard to fill roles.

Greggs is the UK’s largest bakery chain, with more than 1,800 shops and 20,000 employees. To operate its shops Greggs needs a steady talent pipeline, and by providing trial progression opportunities for its own people the company has found a solution for its more difficult-to-fill roles.

Recently, Greggs identified a particular challenge trying to recruit Senior Team Members for some of its shops from within its existing employees. Though managers could easily identify staff capable of filling the roles, they found their colleagues were reluctant to apply for the promotion. Despite the associated benefits of a better hourly rate, the formal interview process was found to be putting off potential candidates.

The process
Going back to the drawing board, Greggs spoke to people they thought had the capability to do the role to understand why they weren’t putting themselves forward.  As a result of their investigations, the business decided to pilot offering the promotion on a trial basis to its employees for a period of four weeks. 11 Team Members were initially encouraged by their managers to take part in the trial, which gave them the chance to trial the Senior Team Member role with an assurance that they could return to their previous role if they didn’t enjoy or manage the trial period.

At the end of the pilot, nine out of 11 employees chose to continue in the role of Senior Team Member. The pilot was so successful that Greggs has now rolled out the approach across the country, wherever there is a Senior Team Member vacancy that is proving difficult to fill.

Cody from Surrey was one of those on the initial trial; ‘The trial was good, not too much pressure.  It was good to have a go and see what I’d have to do without worrying about letting anyone down.   You can see if it’s something you would want to do.’ Since then Cody has also now been further promoted to the role of Supervisor

David Hindmarsh, Head of People commented; ‘What was satisfying about this was it was an idea driven locally from a particular area that challenged our recruitment processes and came about because a Regional Manager believed some of their people were capable even if they didn’t know it themselves.’

The benefits
Around two hundred Team Members have now been through this trial role with almost three quarters being successful and being appointed. What has been particularly pleasing has been the fact that very few of those who tried the role have since left the business, whether they were successful or not.

Top tips for other businesses
Sometimes the talent is there right under your eyes and all it takes is encouragement to give people the confidence to take on board more responsibility.