Features | 22 Feb 2019

Creating a digital-ready workplace where everyone feels valued

For two years in a row, the Sunday Times named us one of the UK's 25 Best Big Companies to Work For. Engagement is high because our employees feel valued.

By Adam Parsons, Human Resources Director, Vodafone UK

Today, for the second year in a row, the Sunday Times has named us one of the UK’s 25 Best Big Companies to Work For, and that’s not all. I am delighted that Vodafone’s place in the rankings has jumped to #7, making us one of the 10 best big companies to work for in the country – and the only telecoms company in the top 10.

What’s more, we won two special awards, “Most Improved” and “Giving Something Back”. Our “Giving Something Back” award was for DreamLab, a free crowdsourcing app that can help to speed up vital cancer research. A partnership between the Vodafone Foundation and researchers at Imperial College London, DreamLab uses the collective processing power of smartphones while they are charging overnight to crunch data faster than regular desktop computers. Recently, we began working with Rolls-Royce plc and The British Council to pilot an initiative that uses DreamLab while staff are in a meeting.

The awards we received reflect a workplace where engagement is high, because our employees feel valued and supported. Our staff believe they can make a valuable contribution – 83% of those surveyed said this, putting us in second place for this measure in the Sunday Times list. We have been working hard to build a culture where everyone feels included and inspired to be at their best, and we’re always looking to improve. Here are three key areas we’re focusing on as part of this effort.

Building our digital talent base

The first is helping our employees get ready for a digital-first workplace. New innovations like 5G, the Internet of Things and cloud services are set to transform how we work, and it’s vital that we encourage everyone to expand their digital skills. Through Vodafone University, an online platform that delivers all our training in one place, our employees can access learning modules on key topics – like digital marketing and digital selling – whenever they wish.

We also created new initiatives to build our digital talent base. Last year we launched Code Ready, a digital skills initiative, in partnership with Makers, London’s leading software development programme. Code Ready is designed for frontline employees in Vodafone retail stores and contact centres who are interested in a digital career. As Code Ready is fully funded, our employees don’t have to pay a penny to retrain as developers. Once they have completed the course, they have all the skills they need to secure a new digital job at Vodafone.

Investing in future digital talent

The UK will need a million more tech workers by 2020. That’s partly because tech is such a fast-growing sector – according to Tech Nation, tech is expanding 2.6 times faster than the rest of the economy.

To support the next generation of tech talent, in 2018 we launched the Vodafone Digital Degree. Created in partnership with the University of Birmingham, this programme combines a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science with a technology apprenticeship at Vodafone. Today, 16 Digital Degree Apprentices are attending the University of Birmingham full-time. They receive a salary for all four years of their degree programme, with a guaranteed role in Vodafone’s digital teams once they graduate in 2022.

We also partner with social enterprises to deliver educational opportunities for young people. Working with Code First Girls for example, we launched Code Like A Girl, a free coding workshop that teaches girls aged 14-18 basic digital skills, like how to code a website. 85 girls have completed the training in the UK so far, and over 520 globally.

A workplace that’s diverse and inclusive

Vodafone aspires to be the world’s best employer for women by 2025. Through initiatives like ReConnect, which supports women and men back into work after a career break, we aim to increase the proportion of women who are managers and leaders. ReConnect aims to hire 1,000 women within three years across Vodafone globally. This builds on our ground-breaking maternity policy – women receive up to 16 weeks of fully paid maternity leave across all Vodafone markets.

We also want our LGBT+ employees to feel empowered, listened to, and cared for at work. I am delighted that Stonewall recently named Vodafone one of the UK’s Top 100 Employers for the second year running, and our LGBT+ Friends Network was Highly Commended. To help ensure that our LGBT+ colleagues can be who they are in the workplace, we launched a “Friends of LGBT+” accreditation programme last year. We also offer LGBT+ inclusive leadership training for graduates.

A top 10 employer in the UK’s 25 Best Big Companies to Work For ranking

I am proud of our community and the workplace culture we’ve built at Vodafone. I believe that we are at our best when our employees are empowered to be at their best. It is thanks to the drive, hard work and motivation of our people that we are now among the top 10 best big companies in The Sunday Times’s 25 Best Big Companies to Work For in the UK, and recognised for giving back as well.