£10 reward for saving £1.5 million

In several recent articles in this blog, we have discussed the vital importance of getting all employees ‘on board’ with your customer service strategy. If you have happy staff who feel engaged in the strategy, then this will ultimately result in happy customers.
But obviously staff engagement needs to be meaningful and not just tokenistic. Today I heard an appalling story about how one major British company has tried to encourage employee involvement, but then ruined everything by giving a miserly and insulting reward to one of its more enthusiastic and innovative staff members.
Following Sainsbury’s recent takeover of Argos, the Chairman Mike Coupe asked staff for cost-saving suggestions. Several employees submitted ideas and Mark Heslehurst, an Argos delivery driver, came up with a good idea.
Mark submitted the suggestion that delivery drivers should only use Sainsbury’s petrol stations to refuel. His idea was commended by the Chairman and five months later his suggestion was adopted by the company. On the company’s own calculation, this will save them about £1.5 million a year.
And Mark’s reward? A miserly £10 gift voucher!!!
Heslehurst, who has been an employee of Argos for two years, said: “The Chairman wrote to thank me for my ideas. Five months later a circular informed all staff of the new policy to only fill-up at Sainsbury’s forecourts.”
Mark is a single parent and earns the minimum wage of £7.50 an hour. He was told by the firm that the idea would save about £1.5 million. As a token of thanks, his employer rewarded him with a £10 gift voucher.
According to Mark: “I got a £10 voucher, which was nice. But in light of how much money I have saved the company, perhaps they might have done something more. I enjoy working for them but I think on this occasion they got it wrong."
“That irked me a bit, as I’m a part-time driver on minimum wage and I know how much money the idea has saved them. I live in a one-bed flat and have spent the last six years sleeping on a camp bed so my son can have his own room.
I’d hoped for some career advancement so I could provide for him better. I’m disappointed. There’s a discrepancy between £1.5 million and £10.

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