Knowledge: Case Studies

Shaping better technological progression through employee involvement.

Waitrose explains why technological advancements have been implemented in handsets for staff on the shop floor, the method of effectively including employees in the process, and why their involvement has led to a better device.

The John Lewis Partnership is known for putting its employees at the centre of all aspects of the business, and is one of the largest employee-owned businesses in Europe. There are around 85,000 employees across over 400 stores between Waitrose and John Lewis, who are all shareholders and benefit directly from the business’ successes in the form of an annual bonus.

Stuart Eames, Retail Innovation Lead at Waitrose, explains that giving employees a financial stake in the business means staff care more about playing an active role and contributing to the business’ success. The fact that staff are shareholders is also why they are called ‘partners’ as opposed to ‘employees’. Eames says: “Employee engagement should come pretty naturally to people in our business. We have an active stake, we want the business to do well, and we desperately want and should be submitting ideas.”

Nevertheless, he says that effectively engaging employees in change at a business follows five clear steps: the first being ‘start with the problem’. Eames expands on this: “A lot of businesses will start with the solution rather than the problem. Identify what the problems are that you’re trying to solve, corroborate that those problems exist, and collaborate on deciding the most suitable next step.”

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