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Case Study: Royal Mail delivers First Class HCI Service


Royal Mail implemented the government’s Home Computing Initiative (HCI) to inject meaning to Chairman, Alan Leighton’s objective to make the organisation ‘a great place to work’. So far 22,000 employees have signed up heralding the scheme a success.

About the business
Royal Mail Group is a public limited company wholly owned by the government, comprising three brands: Post Office, Royal Mail and Parcelforce Worldwide. With annual sales in excess of £8 billion, Royal Mail employs more than 220,000 people in the UK.

Today, it delivers a staggering 82 million letters and packages daily, reaching approximately 28 million households. It has 12,000 collection points and operates out of 16,000 retail outlets.

The challenge
Operating in a challenging environment, Royal Mail consistently demands a high level of efficiency and dedication from its workforce. With this in mind, Royal Mail identified a key need to ensure that its employees were given as many educational opportunities as possible.

Supporting education needs would offer employees the chance to build upon key skills and to bring those skills into the workplace.

To service this requirement Royal Mail decided to support its employees by implementing the government’s Home Computing Initiative (HCI). The HCI is a Government-led initiative offering tax exemption that allows organisations to make home computers available to their employees, free from any tax liability.

Introduced in 1999 with the objective of helping organisations to improve the basic literacy of their workforce, the HCI has been implemented by a host of UK organisations. Participating employees are offered the opportunity to own an internet-ready, fully installed home computer system, including learning software, support and the ability to spread payments over a three year period.

One of Royal Mail’s main goals is to help increase the range of personal and IT skills within its workforce. By introducing an initiative to boost and develop new skills for its employees Royal Mail could continue to fulfil one of its key business objectives recently stated by its chairman, Alan Leighton, to make it a "great place to work."

Tony McCarthy, group human resources director at Royal Mail commented on the value of introducing the HCI: "Clearly an HCI programme is a great way of showing commitment to employees and rewarding them for their loyalty. When implemented with salary sacrifice, it also demonstrates how you are helping them to make their salaries work harder."

The action
Royal Mail selected Futuremedia to help it achieve these objectives by offering its employees Futuremedia’s Learning For All programme (LFA).

Inspired by the Home Computing Initiative and the largest HCI scheme to date, LFA is a fully managed service offering a comprehensive selection of learning programmes.

As well as offering access to educational online learning courses, LFA offers participants the chance to use lifestyle learning courses that are designed to aid the learner in a multitude of tasks, from learning basic computer skills to arranging the perfect BBQ!

In addition to this, participants of the programme are entitled to use Microsoft Windows, recreational and learning software and games, as well as having access to the Internet and a learning portal. Participants are also provided with an online coach and the additional support of a learning community, ensuring the programme’s value is maximised.

By using a combination of educational and entertainment components from the LFA service Royal Mail produced ‘bundles’ of software for its employees to choose from, allowing them to obtain exactly what they needed.

Getting started
Having decided upon Futuremedia’s LFA solution, Royal Mail worked closely with Futuremedia on implementing the first phase of the programme.

All employees who signed up obtained state-of-the art technology packages, a full home installation and demonstration and access to customer service and technical support teams. These all provided a full on-site service, anti-virus software and additional support and security features.

The result
During the first three weeks of the scheme at the end of 2003, 12,500 employees signed up. By the end of the first phase, Royal Mail had signed up a staggering 16,500 employees – more than 10% of the overall workforce, and was delighted with the response from its employees.

Participants fully appreciated the programme as a worthwhile employee benefit and recognised its value for both their personal development and for their families.

Particular interest was also shown in the leisure and recreational programmes, proving that employees were keen to learn a variety of skills, if given the opportunity.

Peter Wilkinson, learning and development director at Royal Mail commented on the implementation: "Futuremedia offered us the opportunity to outsource the project in its entirety, eliminating the administrative burden and much of the stress, ensuring that we experienced as little inconvenience as possible."

One Royal Mail postman commented on how the programme was making a huge difference: "I use the PC at home mainly for helping the children with their homework. It’s made us aware of what we can do as a family."

Launched in August 2004 phase two was very successful with a further 5,500 participants signing up to the scheme, taking the total employees registered to a record high of 22,000. Phase two allowed those employees who had originally missed out the chance to participate in the initiative.

Peter Wilkinson praised the programme: "Futuremedia's Learning for All has been tremendously successful at Royal Mail, so much so that we believe there would be an outcry from our employees if we considered stopping it."

Since the original launch in November 2003 Royal Mail and Futuremedia have won a prestigious employee benefits award, further demonstrating the value of this initiative to both employees and the business.

Looking to the future phase three is currently underway and following the initial roll-out Royal Mail is now focusing on developing the learning aspect of the programme, ensuring the suites are fully utilised.

Royal Mail will continue to promote the learning applications through its ongoing communications plan, entitling participants to a welcome pack, access to the learning portal, a quarterly newsletter and e-newsletter. This plan encourages employees to embrace the learning benefits and provides full support throughout.

Futuremedia and Royal Mail are delighted with the numberof satisfied participants and are constantly adding to the programmes available. In response to demand from employees for an increase in lifestyle software, Futuremedia designed a complete series of new online courses entitled ‘Live ‘n’ Learn’.

Users benefiting from these new courses can develop a variety of new skills ranging from making home improvements (DIY) to simply learning basic computing skills. These new courses have been added to Royal Mail’s LFA scheme and have already experienced a high number of visits to the sites.

Sue Harley, director of learning at Futuremedia said: "The success of the LFA scheme is a direct result of working with a large organisation such as Royal Mail. Its dedication in finding the perfect scheme with a combination of educational and lifestyle learning has proved hugely popular with its employees. With the third phase underway we look forward to even more exciting results".


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