Sustainable and safe workforce

The health, safety and wellbeing of our people is our number one priority. We couldn't do the work we do without our people so it's important we maintain a talented workforce who feel motivated to give their best and who return home safe and well each day. That's why we're committed to our Zero incidents, Zero harm and Zero Compromise vision.

One of our strategic priorities – to build a collaborative and capable team dedicated to serving customers – requires us to have the right people, with the right mindset, skills and tools, to support our customers at the right time.

Underpinning this strategic priority are our ‘people priorities’, which identify how we build a working environment and high-performance culture which inspires us to live our values, grow personally and professionally and focus on exceeding our customers’ expectations every day.

We are focused on recruiting and retaining the best people and providing them with support and opportunities to maximise their potential. By providing an employee experience which develops, challenges and supports our dedicated workforce, we can create teams of true customer advocates. We take great pride in celebrating individual and team successes and shining a spotlight on colleagues from across the business that have gone the extra mile for customers. In 2018 there were 843 nominations for our ‘Spotlight’ employee awards.

We want our talented people to be proud, engaged and passionate about our business – after all, they’re at the heart of serving our customers well. We offer fair and flexible reward packages which support our strategic priorities and motivate our teams. Our ‘Share in Your Success 2020’ is a non-contributory incentive scheme open to all employees in non-managerial grades, offering a potential payment of up to 5% of salary in 2020. Targets for this scheme are based on what is important to our customers, such as providing excellent service, reducing leakage and pollutions and continuing our large investment programme and are fully aligned with our senior management incentive plans, ensuring we are all pulling in the same direction.

Working with trade unions

We are committed to delivering an industry leading employee relations environment, to support all of our people as they reach higher to deliver excellent service for our customers. We regularly meet trade unions, and where appropriate non-union representatives, at senior and working levels, to discuss issues affecting employees. In 2019 we are also launching a programme to actively engage our Board members with the workforce, including our trade unions. The Thames Water Partnership supported by other engagement approaches ensures that our peoples’ voices are heard on the issues that matter most to them.

The safety and wellbeing of our employees and customers is our first priority. There is nothing more important and we are determined to lead our industry in health, safety and wellbeing best practice. We’re committed to achieving our vision of “zero incidents, zero harm, zero compromise, every day we are at work” and every employee, without exception, has the authority to stop any activity that can’t be done safely. We ensure that our partner agencies share our ‘zero compromise’ view on health and safety. Sharing the same high standards, we were granted the Health and Safety award at the 2018 Utility Week Awards alongside our partner organisation, Lanes.

We use a range of metrics to assess our performance, including those in the table below. In 2018/19, we recorded the longest period in our history, over 40 days, without a single injury that led to someone not being able to return to work the next day. During this period, 15,000 of our colleagues and supply chain partners worked for a combined total of 3.7 million work hours. Like all major safety critical organisations, we measure lost time injury performance using frequency rates. In 2018/19 we maintained the number of incidents per 100,000 hours worked at 0.16. We saw a decrease in the number of lost time injury incidents during the period, the nil change in the frequency rate was due to changes in actual hours worked. We maintained the number of work-related illness cases resulting in absence from work, with 16 cases during 2018/19.

Under Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR), we’re required to report to the Health & Safety Executive all specified injuries, lost time injuries involving more than seven days lost time, work-related diseases and certain types of incidents not involving injury known as dangerous occurrences. In 2018/19 we saw an increase in reported notifiable injuries raising the frequency rate to 0.08 from 0.06 in 2017/18. We’ve seen an encouraging 73% increase in the number of hazards being reported by our employees - preventing incidents before they occur – and 33,065 senior management inspections carried out. Through reporting safety observations we’re able to put things right before they can cause incidents. 

*Value restated to reflect reclassification of some injuries.

We are committed to maximising our learning from all incidents and are already implementing the necessary measures to preventative measures to ensure we continue to achieve our vision of sending everyone home safe and well every day. We continue to place great importance on proactive risk prevention, while creating a culture of care through which all our people can improve their own health and wellbeing by making informed choices.

Future plans will see us continue our drive towards achieving excellence in health and safety, using the power of technology and developing our immersive and virtual reality platforms for a full range of health and safety courses. Since 2014, we have been using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) (also known as drones) to avoid the significant safety risk of working at height. During 2018/19, we added a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) to enhance our capability to inspect valves, pipes and other submerged assets within service reservoirs, while reducing safety risks for our employees working around cold, large and deep bodies of water.

Our mental health strategy, ‘Time to Talk’, covers initiatives such as mental health awareness training, open engagement forums and MIND’s Time to Change pledge. Within the year, 468 employees have taken part in the Mind Fit mental health awareness programme and we have trained 268 mental health first aiders. We aim to have one in ten people, in every team across the company, trained in mental health by March 2020.

Showing our commitment to our customer-driven value of being positive and visible, our industry leading activities in this area have been widely featured in the media. We were also featured in the independent review ‘Thriving at Work’ white paper commissioned by the Government and the Shaw Trust mental health report. As part of our continued commitment, we've launched a new confidential wellbeing self-assessment tool which will help employees quickly and easily identify any pressure points in their lives, and if needed, be directed to support and guidance.

Everyone at Thames Water is entitled to a free annual Personal Medical Assessment, with 2,825 employees signing up last year. We also offer free flu jabs, a ‘cycle to work’ scheme as well as gym memberships and wellbeing discounts. We have a 24-hour help line to assist in resolving personal or work-related problems which may affect their health, well-being or work performance.

Our wellbeing plans for this year include a focus on fatigue management and sleep education for our workforce who work night shifts. We are also launching an in-house occupational health training course for managers and a clinical advice line for support and guidance. We are continuing enabling our people to easily access opportunities for improving their personal physical activity.

During 2018/19, we held over 22,000 people training days and set up a new central Learning and Development Centre of Excellence with the aim of ensuring that all employees receive the key knowledge, skills and competencies required to perform their role and deliver on key business needs. In that time, our new Knowledge Management ‘My Guide’ has seen 1.4 million separate hits; we have commenced building a ‘Licence to Operate’ process for all critical water/ waste/Network/ H&S personnel; supported the launch of business critical projects such as our new customer relationship management and billing platform and vulnerability; and developed a more effective process for managing mandatory training (GDPR etc).

The Skills Accord is an Energy and Utilities initiative promoting sustained investment in the skills our sector needs most. As lead signatories on the Skills Accord, we have committed to address sector-wide skills gaps and shortages and to promote relevant skills development across the supply chain through procurement.

We run traineeships, apprenticeships and graduate programmes to develop technical and leadership skills and nurture the talent we’ll need for the future. Our successful apprenticeship programme serves to futureproof the supply of skilled people we will need in our more technical roles. In 2018/19 29 apprentices joined our company. They are hired on a permanent contract from the start and complete an extensive programme of on and off the job learning during their two or four year apprenticeship. Our graduate scheme focuses on creating future leaders. Last year we recruited 18 graduates onto this programme and they will be given opportunities to develop their leadership skills and study toward professional technical qualifications.

At Thames Water our customers and colleagues have a diverse range of backgrounds, beliefs and customs. We can serve our customers, support colleagues and work better together if we have a diverse and inclusive workforce. We’ve worked hard to build a culture of inclusion and belonging in which people feel safe, heard and respected and where everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute and progress their career.

Diversity and inclusion

Our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Mentoring Circle events offer face-to-face support, advice and guidance to help job seekers from BAME backgrounds. Senior managers have joined the circle sessions to pass on their knowledge and advice. We also run several employee support networks, including the BAME diversity and inclusion champions, which meet regularly, and a working group supporting the company to deliver our culture, inclusion and engagement strategy.

We are proud to be a Stonewall LGBT+ diversity champion, working to create a more inclusive, gender equal, empathetic environment. Our position in the Stonewall Equality Index rose 25 places in the year due to our wide-ranging inclusion programme. Our LGBT+ network, sponsored by one of our Executive Leadership Group, has worked hard to expand the knowledge and understanding about LGBT+ issues and promote the role of all our employees as supportive allies. We recently launched our Transgender and Non-Binary guidelines as a resource to support everyone across the business, providing definitions of key terms and an idea of the journey that someone who is transitioning experiences. Over the past year our Women’s Network for women and champions of women, has helped create ‘Balance for Better’ by facilitating a number of confidence building, personal skills and career development workshops for hundreds of employees across numerous sites. Each year we also celebrate events such as International Women’s Day and International Women in Engineering Day with members of our senior leadership team and partner organisations, inspiring people with their stories and providing networking opportunities.

We launched inclusion cards during National Inclusion Week, which aim to start conversations in team meetings to encourage everyone to consider how we can collectively build a more inclusive working environment. This approach has now been shared with many other businesses who had heard of the good work we are doing to challenge our own thinking and aspire to do better.

Gender pay gap

We are pleased to be able to report that, as with previous years, our mean gender pay gap has continued to reduce. As at 5 April 2019 our mean gender pay gap is now 10.4% which has reduced from 10.8% at 5 April 2018. We are additionally pleased to report that our median pay gap has also reduced, down from 12.5% as at 5 April 2018 to 12.2% as at 5 April 2019. This is as a result of an increase in the number of women within Thames Water in our upper pay quartiles. As is common across our sector, the main reasons for our gender pay gap is that there are more men than women in senior roles as well as more men in roles that attract shift pay and other working pattern allowances. Take a further look at our gender pay gap report.

Honest and ethical behaviour

We acknowledge the United Nation’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, so we have policies and procedures in place which ensure we’re compliant with these requirements, and that they’re enforced throughout our business. We seek to promote a culture of honesty and integrity in all our dealings, and we will not tolerate acts of fraud, dishonesty, bribery, corruption or theft of assets or data from the business.

Our Code of Conduct, together with our Honest and Ethical Behaviour policies, expresses our approach to business activities and how we work. These provide a clear, ethical and legal framework for our employees, customers and stakeholders, and clearly set out the minimum behaviours we expect. Our code covers a wide range of human rights issues, including discrimination, working conditions and equal opportunities. We have a confidential 24-hour Employee Assistance Helpline available and a robust whistle-blowing process in place for any of our people to ask questions or raise concerns. Our contractors and alliance partners have also agreed to follow the provisions of this code.

View our latest Modern Slavery Act statement alongside our Honest and Ethical Behaviour policy.