Vodafone UK puts shining behaviour under the spotlight

Vodafone UK’s Legends recognition scheme helps the communications giant to align its brand values with exemplary staff conduct

Vodafone UK’s Legends scheme, now in its third year, is an annual programme held to find individuals who have demonstrated that they have what it takes to help Vodafone UK be successful by going beyond the call of duty. It’s about discovering who truly lives up to Vodafone’s brand values by being ‘Red, Rock Solid and Restless’ in the way that they work.

Two years ago, Vodafone identified through employee surveys that formal recognition was not the strongest part of its culture. To address this, the company introduced a number of measures designed to boost employee recognition, with the Legends programme being the most visible.

Recognising employees and rewarding them is a very important part of Vodafone UK’s people strategy and is something that we build into every day. The Legends scheme, however, recognises those individuals who have really made an extra special difference to the company and its ability to achieve strategic goals.

Each year, all staff at Vodafone are invited to nominate colleagues for an award. There is a real buzz about the company when nominations open and the chance is given to recognise a colleague who does an exceptional job every day. This year, we had a record response, with over 1,600 people being nominated.

Vodafone employees, excluding corporate management, are also invited to become Legends assessors. They are provided with specific training and support to help them judge the nominees and choose the winners.

After an extensive assessment process, including one-to-one telephone interviews with the people who made the nominations, around 100 Legends for that year are selected. The Legends, drawn from across the country representing a mix of functions, receive senior management recognition and an all-expenses paid dream trip for themselves and a guest to locations including Dubai, Cape Town and, in 2008, Hong Kong. The choice of exotic locations and luxurious five-star accommodation ensures a ‘legendary’ trip, befitting the winners of the scheme.

Back at work, employees also receive visible acknowledgement of their achievement throughout the year, for example, by being given a star to hang in their place of work and through announcements at internal conferences.

The high-profile recognition scheme gives the whole company a lift and has a very real impact on its winners. One winner, Toby Cottrell, a technology business analyst, for example, felt that the scheme made him think even more about the example he had set, and he particularly valued the reaction of colleagues. Another, Jacqui Quin, a store manager, particularly valued the way in which the regional manager announced her win with a presentation of flowers and champagne in front of her colleagues.

The Legends programme also helps to support other recognition plans within the business, but where it has really delivered impact is in helping recognition to become part of the everyday culture within Vodafone UK. Encouraging employees to give positive praise to each other not only builds a sense of satisfaction and mutual respect, it also helps drive overall engagement.

And it is this overall engagement that delivers tangible business results. We strongly believe in the link that engaged employees give great customer service, and great customer service delivers fantastic business results.

Alan Thomas is head of policy and reward at Vodafone UK

Best practice tips

  • Say ‘thank you’ – they are small words, but when delivered with sincerity they have lasting impact.
  • Encourage everyone in your organisation to take time to recognise the extra contributions, both big and small, made by colleagues.
  • Use specific activities to help build recognition into the everyday culture of your organisation.

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