Marston’s head of communications and engagement Jo Bradford told The MA Leaders Club in Bristol on Wednesday 13 September sector businesses are always examining a huge range of aspects across their companies all the time but rarely check on how the sentiment of their staff.
Bradford said: “We are listening and learning. We have 11,500 people working for us in 400-plus managed pubs and 900 non-manged sites.
“We’ve got an eye on sales all the time, we’ve got an eye on the bottom line all the time but what about what our people think? They see it and hear it every day. Can management give more of their time and listen to their people?”
She added employee experience is the one metric not measured and the business partnered with Peakon and set a goal of reaching a staff engagement score of eight or more out of 10 to be recognised as a great place to work.
Annual and half-year surveys go out of date quickly so, therefore, don’t work, Bradford argued.
Through its new scheme, there is a cost of about £15 per employee to listen to them per year.
“We need a way to listen to our people as a key metric,” she said. “We want to know what we are good at and what we can do better.”
The way the new-style survey works is each staff member is asked 10 questions on the third Friday of each month – this is done via an app on their phone – from a bank of 32 questions and these rotate throughout the months. Each survey takes no more than five minutes.
Line managers have automated results of staff answers, which are all anonymous – so “people are more honest”.
A dashboard allows management to see whether sentiment is going up or down and allows them to make changes within their teams. It gives insights into team strengths, what their priorities are, understanding trends, access to feedback and managers can respond to comments as well.
Line managers can acknowledge and respond to comments anonymously and are encouraged to do this after each survey round with a time of 15 minutes taken from their day that shows they are listening to workers and gives them the ability to act with greater speed.
‘Lack of action’ fatigue
Braford said: “People don’t get survey fatigue, they get ‘lack of action’ fatigue.”
Marston’s successes so far have been a rise in the average score given by employees to 8.1, which is a rise of 0.4 since September 2022.
Pay is above the national minimum wage now with the introduction of bonus and incentive schemes. Some staff have suggested they wanted incentives based on number of drinks or food they sell.
Other schemes such as offering a £4.50 meal deal for staff at their pubs has ensured workers are “refreshed and refuelled” while mental wellbeing training has been important after Marston’s partnered with Burnt Chef, which has helped boost staff sentiment scores.
A 7.8 score for loyalty has seen an improvement of 0.7 points to the question of “If offered a job at another company, would you stay with Marston’s?” a score Marston’s said is 0.2 points above the consumer services benchmark for hotels, restaurants and leisure businesses.
Bradford concluded: “Pubs with higher scores are those that hit sales targets and their teams are giving better service. It might seem obvious to say but we have the data [to prove that] now.”