United Utilities hosts biggest ever employee conference

United Utilities CEO Steve Mogford presents from the purpose-built temporary studio at the company's Head Office

United Utilities has held its biggest ever employee conference, in the new post-COVID virtual world.

The annual event, which usually involves around 800 managers, this year engaged with more than 3,000 employees from all areas of the business.

Instead of hosting the event at a large hospitality venue, United Utilities created its own live TV feed from a temporary studio at the company’s HQ in Warrington. Senior leaders could present while socially distanced in the studio and interact with employees online, either at home, on site or in the field.

Using a combination of low cost applications such as company intranet, Slido and YouTube, employees were able to interact with the presenters, ask questions or catch up on presentations later on in the day at a time to suit.

It was an opportunity for the water company to reflect on the challenges and highlights of a year like no other and to look ahead to the priorities for 2021.

Steve Mogford, United Utilities’ CEO, summed up the company’s performance throughout 2020: “This year has shown United Utilities in its best light. Thanks to the flexibility and adaptability of our staff, our service has been unaffected. It’s been a superb performance right across the board. There is no part of the organisation that you could touch that hasn’t had to do things differently this year.” 

Jen Felton is Head of Brand, Communications and Digital Channels at United Utilities and she explained: “It’s so important to keep everyone connected, and we knew this year was going to be a huge challenge, but with a bit of innovative thinking it’s a challenge we have smashed.  In fact, the feedback from all levels within the company is that we have engaged with many more employees than ever before, in a more time-effective and cost-effective way. Virtual is most definitely the future when it comes to employee engagement.”

Presentations were delivered in an informal style, with Steve Mogford interviewing members of his leadership team. They covered topics including the growth and importance of AI and machine learning, financial performance and priorities for supporting vulnerable customers as the economic effects of the Covid pandemic continue. /Ends

A year in numbers at United Utilities:

Zero employees furloughed
Zero serious pollution incidents
3 weeks to get 3,000 employees working from home
1,000 lap tops and 280 mobile phones procured to help staff work remotely
17,700 jobs in the supply chain supported
50,000 customer service WOW Award nominations
142,000 customers supported through financial hardship
600,000 meals provided for families through support for charity FareShare
£71 million provided in financial support for customers