Sunday, 30 March 2008

Sudden appreciation for Harrogate

Today The Observer reported that Tesco has almost completely conquered the UK - with only Harrogate in Yorkshire still without one of its humungo-stores.

Of course, protest groups are up in arms. With each Tesco comes it's loss leaders, out-of-town parking lots and all the other vile signs of Tescopoly. How I feel about our supermarket sickness is no secret.

Today though, I decided to try, try, try to be unbiased in the way I appraise this most recent Tesco headline. I scratched my head, determined to find some good in the news.

Jobs. Surely this will bring lots of jobs to the community?

I typed the phrase 'Tesco employee engagement' into Google and followed the second link on the results page to Green Lion where I found this delightful sentence: David Richardson, Head of Tesco’s Employee Insight Unit has measured the effects of customer and employee engagement and finds that “those stores with employees who are highly committed also have the highest turnover per foot”. Interesting to see that the value they see in engaging their staff is quantitative, directly related to their already massive turnover. Anyone who has seen the hideous TV show 'Breaking into Tesco' will already know all about Tesco's focus groups and how closely they resemble a battery hen farm. Designed to breed a generation of average eaters, with average tastes in food, music, books and clothes.

Then I toddled along to the Tesco 'work for us' page (see, I can be fair!). I found lots of chat about 'corporate responsibility' (alas, no corporate social responsibility) and how 'every little helps' in the community where Tesco is working to make a difference.

I would like to invite the opinion of my good friend and employee engagement expert Samantha Wood. We've disagreed in the past and I'd be interested to see if she can provide us with any more information about the store's employee principles and processes. Perhaps she'll share some good news that I've missed.

For me, my time on the Tesco site had to end once I'd found their colourful Corporate Store Steering Wheel. The light blue, be a good neighbour piece of the pie was particularly amusing. I have now managed to convince myself that it's actually a work of irony. It has to be, surely. What do you think?

1 comment:

Sam said...

Ooooh, the challenge to be independently minded in the face of Lea's passionate anti-Tesco beliefs. Tricky, but I'll try. I've never worked for Tesco, so like any relationship, I can only look at the one Tesco has with its employees from the outside and make guesses as to what it feels like to be in it...

First up Miss Simpson, I think you're harsh in judging David Richardson for taking the opportunity to justify employee engagement spend when he sees it reflected in the bottom line. The quantative results of employee engagement can be hard to measure and if you have a direct correlation with sales performance that's going to leverage more cash from Mr CFO, I say go for it.

It seems to me on the plus side that Tesco have an exceptional commitment to Training & Development, available to anyone who wants it. If there ever was a glass ceiling there, they did away with it long ago. They also look to have excellent in-house comms and the structure in place to listen to their staff (and customers) as well as talk at them.

That said, its astonishing how much the Tesco recruitment site reads as if it was written for consumers, instead of prospective employees. Pretty much every sentance about employee welfare finishes with; 'because then you'll look after our customers'. Which isn't awful, its just very upfront about where Tesco's focus lies. In fact they even have a list of Stakeholders on their site and customers, not employees, are at the top of it.

The other thing that makes fascinating reading is the "Meet our People" section. All the employees biogs show them to be energised and motivated, but not one of them made any reference, even an obtuse one, to Every Little Helps. Almost without exception these people talk about fast promotions, professional achievements and the scope for them to go as far as their ambition will take them as fast as their ability can keep up. And there's nothing wrong with that at all. (In fact given the nature of Tesco's own expansion it makes perfect sense). Its just it makes me wonder if a single one of them actually buys into the brand.

Every little helps? What if I told you the slogan was: Tesco - MORE. FASTER. FOR EVERYONE.

Would you buy it?