Winners 2022

Best employee engagement initiative

How to be Happier
Creating Purpose for 78,000 partners
John Lewis Partnership
Agency: Given

The John Lewis Partnership is a unique organisation: its 78,000 employees (partners), stretching from the executive team to the delivery drivers, own the business, and have a stake in its future. Partner engagement has been a central plank of its offering for more than 120 years, but with a changing retail landscape, exacerbated by Covid 19, the partnership needed to refresh its mission for the future.

It would be unthinkable for the Partnership to do so without consulting its partners. Given pioneered co-creation at scale. It created a Purpose Working Group, comprising 16 partners from across the organisation, who initially worked on a review and refresh of its existing purpose, and then helped to cascade this through the partnership, gaining approval for the new wording Working in partnership for a happier world.

But the mission still had to be brought to life and lived, so, through a combination of online and offline initiatives, including mobile surveys, focus groups and forum discussions, Given learned that Happiness was the most important principle for partners.

But Happiness comes in many forms. Given worked with the partners to understand what partnership happiness looked like, and the drivers behind it. This was a new approach, asking partners for their feedback for how it feels to hold that position, which led to 11 new questions and eight amended ones.

  • Collectively, the partners and Given developed a set of Happier Hows – five simple ways to put Happiness at the heart of actions.
  • Kindness: sharing a fairer society through employment opportunities; forming mutually beneficial partnerships with suppliers; encouraging partners to be kinder to each other
  • Connections: providing opportunities for partners to connect with each other meaningfully; bringing partners, customers and communities together; forming deeper connections with customers
  • Voice: creating conditions for a thriving and impactful democracy; putting customer voice at the heart of developing new ideas, products, services; supporting people who work for our suppliers.
  • Passion: creating products that people are proud to own; campaigning for causes we care about; helping partners find passion in what they do.
  • Trust: delivering on promises to customers, suppliers and communities. Being transparent and honest about our environmental and social impacts.

All 1,300 leaders across the business were invited to an event that asked them to pick up the baton and bring the refreshed purpose to life for their colleagues, embedding it into their business units. Each attendee received a Finding Happier workbook, containing exercises that could be run virtually in a five-minute break or at an information station in a break room.

But the campaign had to find traction. Given coordinated with the working group to design creative assets, such as decals, posters and stickers, that could be placed in key areas for maximum exposure. The materials were designed to spark conversations and aid the wider, deep-rooted, cultural change rather than prettify a wall.

The assets created an immediate buzz leading to the appointment of a network of communication activators, to maintain momentum, who regularly posted on a Google chat channel to motivate and inspire colleagues.

When the first Happiness Survey was issued, 61 per cent of partners completed it. And of the 1,500 partners who attended leadership events, in which they learned how to embed purpose and happiness across the organisation, they left feeling ‘inspired’, ‘happier’ and ‘more optimistic’.

The judges were impressed by the scale of the challenge, and the gathering of information from across the organisation, customers and suppliers. ‘An impressive process, across a huge employee base to communicate with, and bringing change to an established business of this kind much be challenging,’ they said, adding: ‘This was a great example of stakeholder engagement.’