Our client is a multi-national PLC that began over 100 years ago in London. It is now a major player in the retail sector that operates in 8 countries and employs over 400,000 people across its brands and locations. At the time of our engagement, our client was in the second year of integrating an acquired company from a sector in which they had no presence previously.
The company was led by a CEO that was able to save the organisation from the brink of failure, and over the span of a decade placed it at the top of the league table in the sector. However, our client recognised that there was a differential experience between employees in the parent company and our client’s side of the business but had a ‘blind spot’ regarding the causes of those differences. They had evidence of some differences in experience for gender and across certain roles, but there needed to be a complete understanding of the status quo of employee experience before an effective, strategic solution could be deployed.
Our brief was to analyse the state of inclusion and employee sentiment within the acquired business and the impact of leaders on employee experience. Once our analysis was complete, we were asked to report our findings and recommendations for creating a culture that was more aligned with the parent company’s organisational ethos.
We performed an Organisational Diagnostic, a cultural assessment tool that involves gathering, then combining both quantitative (thin) and qualitative data to produce “thick” data that layers ethnographic information over statistical data to reveal context, emotion and more detailed insights than survey results alone. This delivers a robust and holistic picture of not just ‘what’ is happening culturally within an organisation, but also the ‘why’ and how’ things are the way they are – and what will likely inspire rapid and sustainable change.
The Diagnostic involved two primary streams: an organisation-wide inclusion survey to capture the quantitative data, and a series of individual and small-group interviews to gather the ethnographic data. We performed a detailed analysis using a Grounded Theory methodology on the qualitative data alongside robust statistical analysis on the quantitative data captured in the survey. This process was used to identify common and consistent themes across the organisation that were limiting individual and organisational performance.
The findings from the Organisational Diagnostic process provided the transparency our client needed in order to understand that the differential experience of colleagues between the two sides of the business was not simply a factor of a lack of inclusion, but also other performance-limiting factors. Our analysis did reveal challenges related to a lack of inclusion across a number of demographic and role based characteristics, but also demonstrated that other logistical, operational and management skill factors that had not been previously visible were responsible for some of the challenges that were known and some challenges that had hitherto been unidentified.
The themes we identified in the Organisational Diagnostic resulted in a comprehensive set of implications for the organisation, including identifying potential risks if no action was taken to improve the culture within the acquired organisation. APS used the underlying data and the emergent risks and implications to deliver a set of phased recommendations and build a strategic response in the form of a post-intervention action plan that included an internal comms framework.