TalentLearning & DevelopmentHR Distinction Spotlight: Learning and adapting with The Co-op

HR Distinction Spotlight: Learning and adapting with The Co-op

HRD Connect examines how The Co-op successfully created new and engaging learning and development systems.

Many organisations strive to go through a transformational journey and guarantee global success. To succeed in these challenges, businesses must undertake numerous changes over many years. This can heavily impact culture, talent, and strategic focus. Through these monumental changes, HR plays a key role in maintaining and aligning a consistent experience for their workforce in times of uncertainty.

This week, we look at The Co-op’s talent management journey. Their plan was to provide new learning and development opportunities for their workforce.


There has always been a unique aspect to working at The Co-op. Their ‘Being a Co-op Colleague’ strategy gives employees a sense of pride while working for the organisation.

However, in their annual engagement survey, it was revealed that 27% of their workforce believed that there weren’t enough opportunities to learn and develop. Furthermore, an additional 31% said they weren’t planning on working at The Co-op in 3-years’ time. After this survey came to light, they decided to restructure their talent strategy to focus on building future leaders internally.

“We wanted to put pathways in place to prepare colleagues for their current and future roles, reduce attrition, create an industrial talent pipeline and influence engagement.

My Co-op Career was born – a framework that captures all opportunities we create for our colleagues to develop in our business.” said Tim Moscrop, Qualitative Researcher – Leadership, Talent & Learning, The Co-op.

This new strategy aimed to provide their workforce with an accessible, bitesize learning system, available for everyone to use. This would be scalable, personalised, and transparent about their career opportunities. If The Co-op were to succeed in this talent transformational journey, then it would massively boost staff morale, retention, and collaboration across their workforce. This new learning and development system would be called Boost.

To succeed in building their talent strategy, there were many challenges that they had to overcome. Creating and delivering this new programme required large teams to collaborate across L&D and HR, which proved to be challenging initially, as these teams never co-operated regularly before. Frequent group meetings and continuous workshops eventually encouraged stronger relationships and increased teams’ appreciation of one another.

When adopting this new standard of learning and developing, The Co-op almost had to start from scratch in defining their operational methods and management structure. Overtime they tackled these obstacles by recruiting a high number of Team Managers to create 183 store operational standards, which maintained the learning structure. To further facilitate and deliver their new training strategy, they also delivered several inductions and sessions leading up to the launch of this new program.

Just 1 year after launching this new system, The Co-op has seen this learning strategy have a significant impact on their business. Over 2,000 employees have been through this new program, with 50% of the participants being promoted. They’ve also seen progress in recruitment internally, with 66% of Store Managers being recruited within The Co-op, in comparison to just 40% the year before.

“When our internal insight told us that significant numbers of colleagues felt there weren’t opportunities to learn and develop, and that they weren’t planning to continue their careers at the Co-op, we knew that this needed to be addressed,” said a spokesperson from The Co-op.

“My Co-op Career has introduced a framework that captures all the opportunities we create for our colleagues to flourish across the Co-op.”

Not only did they see internal promotions increase, but they also saw staff turnover decrease, which reduced by 5.67% over a year. Since identifying the clear benefits of creating an effective learning and development system, The Co-op has launched multiple systems to further ensure that their employees are following their favoured paths.

“Through My Co-op Career pathways: Core, Boost and Excellence – we’re able to provide colleagues with the core fundamentals of their roles, a development platform for those wanting to take the next step in their career, and the opportunity to excel in their current role. It provides colleagues with visibility and choice in terms of what they want to achieve.”

“First launched across our Stores, we’re seeing a significant impact due to more skilled colleagues with a greater awareness of what’s available – increased sales turnover, retention and internal mobility.”

The Co-op continues to expand and create new training programs. Earlier this year, The Co-op launched plans called Funeralcare and Logistics, which will be used by their HR function.

Today’s workforces are keener than ever before to learn and develop within their careers. Companies that choose to create effective learning systems like The Co-op will continue to reap the benefits of investing time and resources into these new learning inventions.

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