Defining the FirstGroup Employee Value Proposition (EVP) framework - Dawson Walker

Defining the FirstGroup Employee Value Proposition (EVP) framework

CASE STUDY - let's attract, retain and motivate great people!

The Challenge

FirstGroup plc is a leading public transport operator in the UK and North America.
The Group is made of an extremely interesting mix of brand heritages, cultures, geographies and operating structures.

We needed to agree common objectives with the “Area of Expertise” working group (AoE) responsible for this project - to develop an overarching EVP framework that would:

  • Attract more and better candidates
  • Motivate, engage and retain existing employees
  • Target internal and external communication
  • Prioritise business improvement activities
  • Focus on increasing efficiency and cost control
  • Harness the power of their employees as advocates

The Solution

Our first task was to organise and make sense of the 32 focus group out-puts which had previously been undertaken. We benchmarked the work against 38 attributes that employees “perceive as the value they gain through employment in the organisation” as researched with 59,000 employees by the Corporate Leadership Council. This led to the development of a new core EVP intention supported by four new promises.

Our careful analysis of the focus group feedback meant that we were able to write a proposition that was authentic, compelling and targeted. A sense-check with the Group’s Employee Engagement Survey “Your Voice”, along with feedback from the AoE and the leaders of the business led to further refinement of this work.


The Result

Now we were ready to run our pilot.

We wanted to understand how well the EVP we had developed for FirstGroup would fit with the operating companies and so we were delighted when First Bus volunteered to take part.

Our laboratory would be a workshop that we called: “Let’s attract, retain and motivate great people”. It was attended by line managers, recruiters and communicators from around the First Bus business – we truly felt we were engaging with the key stakeholders. In preparation we undertook an online audience survey reaching 1,000 respondents, detailed competitor analysis and a situational analysis of First Bus’ marketing materials and recruitment & retention performance.

Not only were we testing out the FirstGroup EVP to a discerning group of 16 individuals but we were also planning to develop the complementary Bus EVP. We created a range of interactive tools and techniques to facilitate – working closely with our AoE sponsors who also attended. The session was opened by the Bus HR Director who outlined the key business challenges that needed to be addressed – the rest of the day was down to us.

The day flew by and we were greatly impressed by the energy and engagement levels from the participants. There was plenty of debate, post it noting, flip charting and Venn diagramming to keep us busy. We thoroughly enjoyed the unexpected discussions around subjects such as generational differences in the workforce and other issues related to running a bus company.

  • 12 quick win actions – that spanned business changes, recruitment policy improvements and communication messages
  • 5 longer term initiatives to investigate including, for example, improving the working environment to attract more females in a male dominated driver workforce
  • Constructive feedback to enable the development of the tools and methodology we created
  • Capability building as we create a users’ manual for wider roll out in the Group.

James Dalton – Head of Employee Engagement & Health, FirstGroup

We were greatly impressed by the thorough and structured approach that Dawson Walker brought to this project and enjoyed the inquisitive (sometimes provocative) style of the consultants involved.


Richard Smith - Programme Director, Corporate Services, FirstGroup

We have achieved so much with Dawson Walker’s help and I really appreciate their guidance, candour and support throughout this process.

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