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Serco Colleague ConneXions – giving Voice to our Values

What do a boardroom, a hospital ward and the deck of a naval warship all have in common?  For Serco the answer is that in these places – and many more besides – you’ll find people with the knowledge, experience and motivation to stand up and speak for the decisions that shape lives and serve society. 

From our frontline to our Board, we are all part of the same diverse, dynamic and determined team; and, like any team, we do our best when working together in open, honest communication.

Kirsty Bashforth

In 2020, we launched ‘Serco Colleague ConneXions’, our new approach for amplifying the voice of our people and strengthening their relationship with our Board of Directors. Our goal is to help the Board make appropriate decisions that create better outcomes for everyone, including our service users, customers, shareholders and – of course – our colleagues themselves. 

“It’s about being in touch with our colleagues and all they see and experience,” explains Kirsty Bashforth, Serco Non-Executive Director and Board Sponsor for Colleague ConneXions. “We need a strong feel for the frontline reality to inform discussions in the boardroom. Understanding Serco through everyone’s eyes, no matter where they work across Serco, is invaluable.” 

“Generations of our colleagues have helped Serco become all that we are today. They are wise, perceptive and true to our Values, and Serco is better off when we listen carefully to what they have to say. We’re working harder than ever to empower and access that insight and everything behind it.” 

Colleague ConneXions is part of a much wider framework of dialogue and communication across Serco. In this first year, we have been strengthening existing channels whilst developing new and enhanced opportunities for our colleagues to engage Board members directly, including more immersive site visits and interactive online chat events. 

The initial response has been very positive: 

“We’re seeing great levels of engagement,” says Tom Whitaker, Group lead for Colleague ConneXions and formerly a Custodial Operations Manager at HMP & YOI Doncaster. “Our colleagues want to be heard and they want to be involved. For example, we introduced a new ‘Tell the Board’ option into our employee survey and received an overwhelming 13,467 comments – a rich source of ideas which is informing our future plans.” 

Tom Whitaker

“Our people give Serco energy, vitality and momentum. Wherever they connect, incredible things can happen – and often do. Greater connectivity fosters innovation, enhances performance, and makes work more engaging and enjoyable. We want to bring people closer together and help them understand how important they are and the difference they can make.” 

For the Board, the new flow and vibrancy of feedback is already making a difference: 

“What we’ve seen so far is very encouraging,” says Kirsty. “For example, we’re gaining new insight into how Board decisions impact daily experiences, whilst hopefully also starting to demystify perceptions of the Board and what it does. Some of our assumptions about what matters most to our colleagues are being challenged, and we have been seeking out attitudes on new ways of working beyond Covid-19. You can almost feel people around the business begin to recognise the possibilities. That’s certainly true among the Board and we are committed to building on these promising foundations.” 

For Tom, while there are exciting developments on the horizon – including surveys and focus groups on important issues, collaborative partnerships with key colleague networks, and a strategic forum with representatives from every region – the true meaning of Colleague ConneXions has been brought home in how our people have responded to a year otherwise defined by isolation: 

“We’ve all learned important lessons. One of them is that, despite the physical distances between us and the challenges ahead of us, we can still come together, work together and make a difference together as one team – for our customers, our service users and each other.”