Unless our employees are engaged with our business and committed to our journey of improvement, we can’t hope to achieve great customer service.

We value the opinion of our workforce and source their feedback though an annual survey and half-year ‘pulse’ survey. Company-wide and local action plans are then created in response.

The latest surveys reveal high levels of engagement - at 79 per cent - which is a five per cent improvement on the previous year. We also had a healthy overall response rate of 82 per cent.

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Employees told us, via the surveys, that leadership, together with managing and implementing change more effectively, were two key areas where we could continue to improve. These issues are especially important as we continue to change rapidly as a business, to meet customer expectations.

In response, we’ve invested time in up-skilling line managers to be more effective at leading people through changing times and have prioritised leadership and line management support to those areas which need it the most, based on survey results. A mixture of e-learning, classroom training, continuous coaching and communications and engagement plans are being used.

We’ve introduced new questions, specifically focused on how well we manage change, into the survey, so we can track our performance and make improvements. We’ve also established a business change capability process which means we can make sure that whenever or wherever change is required, we use a consistent means of assessing the impact on people and make sure the right level of engagement, communication and training are deployed.

Looking ahead, as our company evolves to continue to deliver great customer service and to be successful as our marketplace opens up to competition, we will be giving employees confidence and greater understanding of our direction of travel in the next five years and beyond, which was a key piece of feedback from the survey. We are running a structured programme, which everyone in United Utilities will experience, to share and discuss the areas of focus for the business in the future and why those are important for the company and for their team and role.

A productive relationship with the trade unions, which represent a large number of our employees, particularly in operational areas, continues to be important. We have a structured approach through forums at a local and business unit level through which we inform, consult and negotiate with them on employee relations matters. We have done more to ensure we have early engagement with the unions around the context for change in our business and to discuss with them the external drivers which will influence what and how we need to do things in the future.

If you would like to send us a comment about this report, please email our Head of Sustainability, Chris Matthews