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Digital Champions in Tesco

Over the past few years, Tesco has been gradually moving its systems online. Not all staff had the skills to use these systems so the Union Learning Rep organised Digital Champions training with Digital Communities Wales. Now colleagues are able to help each other use online services.

Why?

Tesco is just one of many companies which is streamlining its internal systems by moving them online. One of its major initiatives in recent years has been creating a website exclusively for Tesco Colleagues. Employees are encouraged to access The Colleague Room to do everything from ordering their uniform to finding information on a range of employee benefits.

But not all staff – or managers- have the skills to use the new systems and it was this problem that Project Worker Pam Stanton asked Crian Williams, Mobile Union Learning Rep for South East Wales, to solve.

How

“I thought the first step was to find out the level of interest in courses,” says Crian. “I could then set up courses or run short sessions.” But Crian quickly realised that she was running to keep up from the start. “Most of the company processes were already online when I began to plan the project”, she explains, “and it was difficult to persuade members to admit they needed help. Many were very wary about signing up to a digital skills course.”

However, after speaking to many colleagues across several Tesco Stores, Crian had an idea.

“Many of our members said they would prefer to ask for and receive help from other colleagues” says Crian. “I thought that the answer might lie in training up our reps and other members as Digital Champions, to help staff with little or no IT skills gain a basic level of knowledge.”

Many of those struggling were older members, who had very little or no knowledge of how to access online services. “They were already asking for help to order their uniform from other colleagues in their own stores, so the Digital Champions would fit nicely into this role” says Crian.

Crian met with Digital Community Wales to look at the options available for training Digital Champions. She then met up with store reps and managers to talk through how the project would work and what support was needed. There was a lot of agreement about what needed to be done but getting dates set in for the training proved quite challenging. “I did manage to get dates set up in two stores, Tesco Pontypool and Tesco Aberdare before Christmas” says Crian. “Once they were trained and started to help staff I could see that the idea worked. We just needed to do it quickly.”

Crian got the boost she needed in January when the company announced that it was going paperless and that all colleagues would have to access their payslips online by April. It underlined the importance of the project and the need to act quickly.

Impact

“Since those first two Tesco courses were run in January, I have organised Digital Champion courses at Ebbw Vale, Newport (Gwent) and Tesco Western Avenue, Cardiff, with more on the way,” says Crian. “It is now impossible to walk into a Tesco, in my patch, without people asking for the course to be run in their store. It seems the message and idea has been passed on from one People Manager to another in their cluster meetings. “

So, what’s in store for the future? “Our aim is to offer funded Digital Literacy courses,” says Crian. “It’s a great way to break down barriers to learning new online skills. It’s also a chance for the Digital Champions to improve their communication skills when they sit down with the individuals to explain how to turn the device on/off, how to access websites, create an email with password and most importantly how to stay safe whilst online.”