The mobile phone operator EE operates within a highly competitive industry, which is undergoing rapid change and facing increasing customer expectations. To differentiate themselves, EE have sought to improve customer service by investing in staff skills and engagement.
One of the barriers to achieving these goals is the high staff turnover rates among EE’s core retail staff. In mid-2015, over 60 per cent of employees working less than 25 hours a week were leaving within the first 12 months of joining. The negative impacts of high attrition include the cost of changing staff; lower productivity; understaffing; recruitment costs; and the loss of knowledge and skills. The extensive use of short hour contracts was regarded to be the main driver of high staff turnover.
“The main benefit is that if we uplift people’s hours – we’ve done a lot up to 35 hours rather than the 25 [we offered before] – it gives the people that stability. EE wants to look after them. They’ll stay, get the stability, they can have a career. They can get a mortgage and they’re happier. A happier workforce delivers more.”
David Botfield, Resource & Capacity Planning Manager, EE
To tackle this problem, in December 2015 EE offered all retail staff who wanted it an uplift in their basic working hours. This was supported by earlier changes to standardize the company’s recruitment process for stores across all regions; reform KPIs to incentivise greater focus on customer service; and introduce a new three-week induction and buddy process for all new starters, scrapping the probationary rate of pay and introducing a softer launch into targets.
The Living Wage Foundation has been working with EE to monitor the impact of these changes. In total, 650 employees from 330 stores chose to increase their working week by an average of 9.2 hours. In earnings terms this is about £4,500 extra a year. After six months, the rate of staff turnover among this group was 25 per cent lower than the rest of the retail population. EE also expects to see improvements in customer service and sales as their workforce becomes more stable and experienced.