Engaging Employees in tough trading conditions



Everest has become one of the most recognised home improvement companies in the UK. The current economic climate has taken it’s toll on the home improvement market, and in 2008 the company recognised the need to ensure the business was in the best possible shape to deal with the tough trading conditions.
A key element of this approach was to focus on employee engagement. Whilst some activity had already begun, the business recognised that in the current climate, this was even more crucial to achieve business goals.


  • Improve engagement within Everest
  • Improve employee trust in employee engagement activity
  • Increase personal ownership & accountability
  • Create a sustainable solution to be maintained by employees

What we did

A new approach was devised, to understand what engagement looked like in Everest. This approach advocated a solution co-created by employees, rather than by senior leaders in an ivory tower. Employees needed to volunteer themselves in the changes, and the way to achieve this was via an approach that would lead, involve, and create trusted dialogue – whilst ensuring changes were sustainable.

A project team was put together involving HR and Internal Communications roles, however, the process was owned and delivered by the engagement champions and managers. Support functions, for the first time, played a genuinely supporting role behind the scenes, partnering with champions and managers. They were not the face of change as had happened previously. The MD, Simon Jarman, also personally sponsored the programme, which helped demonstrate commitment to the changes.

Some of the activity included:

  • Recruiting and training 32 representatives who would become engagement champions.
  • Champions tested the programme, based around a series of interactive workshops, which they then co-delivered and facilitated with managers (delivered to all employees across Everest)
  • A communication plan was designed to ensure trusted, two-way dialogue was established.


  • Over £2 million in cost reduction in the 9 months after the programme launched
  • Engagement survey response rates increased from 50% to 94%
  • Employees started taking action immediately to reduce costs within the business – saving millions
  • 84% of employees volunteered to reduce their salaries, as the economic crisis worsened (representing over £1 million of savings)