Making things simpler for colleagues on colleagues.coop.co.uk

Photograph from over the shoulder of a Co-op Digital colleague who is using the update colleague site on their phone.

We’re redesigning the Co-op Colleagues website and updating its content to make the navigation easier and the information more helpful to colleagues.

The problem we want to solve

There are lots of places where colleagues can find information about our policies, procedures and working at the Co-op. This is confusing because:

  1. We’ve never flagged one channel as the single, definitive place to find information.
  2. The information we give across the different channels doesn’t always say the same thing.

We’re now working with our internal comms team to make colleagues.coop.co.uk the main place to find out about being a Co-op colleague. It will help people who work here with everything from checking when they get paid through to finding out what to do before they go on maternity leave.

Favouring a website over the intranet

When we built the site a couple of years ago, we put it straight into the public domain, even though the main audience is people who work here at Co-op. It was a quick proof of concept, to show we could be open about our policies and procedures and make them more user-friendly. Doing it this way meant one Google search from any device could get a colleague straight to the information they need, without having to get onto our network or remember log-in details.

The best way to make information available to everyone who needs it is to make it open – that’s why the right product decision was to build a website rather than pour time into redeveloping our existing intranet.

There are other problems with the intranet too. Around 80% of our staff can’t access it because they work in our stores and warehouses and don’t have a work email address to log in with. For those who can log in, the search doesn’t work very well and the navigation isn’t intuitive. It’s not surprising many colleagues can’t find what they need and end up phoning our internal call centres for help, which takes longer, causes frustration and costs us more.

We’ve created a content ‘quality filter’

To avoid the Colleagues site going the same way as the intranet, we want to empower colleagues to help themselves. So we’ve created a proposition that provides a quality filter for everything that goes on the site.

All content must:

  • have a clear user need
  • be about being a Co-op colleague
  • have a named content owner who’s committed to reviewing it at least once a year

If a piece of content doesn’t fit these requirements, it doesn’t go on.

A big culture shift

People are used to being able to publish any content they want to our colleagues – our proposition takes away that right. Everything for the site will now be reviewed, edited or created by a small team of trained editors from around Co-op. They will make sure everything fits the proposition and is designed to help users find out how to complete their task as quickly and easily as possible.

That’s why we’ve written guidelines for creating content completely open too. We’re asking a lot from people, so it’s only right that we’re completely open about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. Then they can hold us to the standards we’re trying to set.

Where we’re going from here

We’ve already made some changes with support from Code Computer Love, but we’ll continue to add new content and restructure what’s already there over the coming months. We’ll also continue to review and iterate the guidelines to make sure they’re helping our editors to create content that meets our colleagues’ needs.

There’s a feedback button at the bottom of every page, so please let us know how we’re doing.

Hannah Horton
Content Community Lead

coop.co.uk/colleagues: we’re listening to your feedback

Just before Christmas we launched coop.co.uk/colleagues, a website where colleagues can find the things they need to know about working at the Co-op. In my previous post Welcome to coop.co.uk/colleagues I explained that we built it because we wanted to make information more easily available for all colleagues, not just those who have access to the work computer. Providing one, open place to access information from lots of different older Co-op sites.

The site has been live for around a month now and, just as we requested, we’ve had a lot of feedback on it.

What people have been saying

The site allows users to leave anonymous feedback on every page. We’ve had more than 70 pieces of feedback which were almost all positive. People said:

  • “It’s great that this stuff is now so accessible”
  • “Huge tick. Transparency. Access for all, particularly CTMs (customer team members), who have little access to back office policies”
  • “Easily accessible especially when you’re not a work”
  • “Much easier to navigate than finding information on the intranet”

But we know we’ve still got more to do. People also said:

  • “Don’t we have a whistleblower number or a risk hotline?”
  • “In the opportunities section could there be a link to a section about opportunities for study and self-directed learning?”

We’ve read and thought about all the feedback and now we’ll start using it to help us, improving the site plan developments and content changes. This is all part of working in an agile way.

But we know we’ve still got more to do, it’s not finished, we’ll keep iterating.

Spreading the word

When we launched in December we deliberately didn’t promote the site very much. We wanted to give ourselves time to gather feedback and think about at any issues. Now, we’re starting to share the site with more colleagues.

We posted about it on our colleague Facebook page and got some more feedback.

Written feedback from two colleagues in our Facebook group.

We wanted to help colleagues without access to their work computer to find out about the organisation they work in. Now we need to find the best ways to tell them about the site that will help them do that. If you have any suggestions, leave a comment below.

Peter Brumby
Digital Channels Manager

Welcome to coop.co.uk/colleagues

Four members of the colleague website team working collaboratively at Federation House.

We’ve launched coop.co.uk/colleagues – a new way for our colleagues to find the things they want to know about working for the Co-op.

The problem we wanted to solve

80% of colleagues either had no or very little access to our intranet (our internal website).

This meant they had difficulty getting access to relevant colleague information. For example, if a colleague without intranet access wanted to know the policy on shared parental leave or how to fundraise for our charity partnership, their only option would be to ask their manager.

Making things better

Having access to this type of information helps colleagues manage their working life. So it was fundamental that what we created was open and available on any device. The website we’ve built is both those things. It’s also simple to use and easy to navigate. We’ve introduced a new level of transparency for Co-op.

This is just the start

We started building the site 6 weeks ago with the aim of sharing what we’ve been working on with colleagues as early as possible. Now we’re asking for feedback at the bottom of each page. We want to find out what people think about what’s there already and what they’d like to see. We’ll combine their feedback with other suggestions we’ve had and use it to direct how the site develops.

Colleagues website team looking at and grouping feedback from colleagues.

Just like co-operative.coop, which we launched last week, this site was built by our in-house team. 

Doing things ourselves and working in this way means we can iterate quickly, and often. Our goal is to improve the experience for colleagues every time we make a change.

I’d like to thank the team for all their hard work: Fiona Linton-Forrest, Kyle Fyffe, Richard Higgins, Tom Walker Ian George, Steve Bruce, Nigel Jones, James Young, Daniel Magraw and Graham Davies. Big thanks also to all our colleagues from around the Co-op for their support.


Peter Brumby 
Digital Channels Manager

Highlights from the past year

It’s been just over a year since Chief Digital Officer Mike Bracken and his team joined us at the Co-op. When he invited me over to Federation House, the new home of our digital teams, I asked him which parts of the last year stand out to him the most.

Mike: Hi Nick.

Nick: Hi Mike. Thank you very much for inviting me here to Federation House… wonderful place. You’ve been with The Co-op for about a year now.

M: Yes.

N: And I wanted to ask you what you highlights have been during the time that you’ve been with us?

M: The first is obviously Membership. I’m old enough to remember the dividend and all the rest of it and to… to be part of a team that has reset Membership and reset… is resetting this organisation to be a radical member-based organisation.  

Probably to recapture what it was but also to make us much more relevant in the digital age. To be part of that programme, to help people through that fantastic… absolutely terrific and it’s only been less than two months since we started to re-card and get people ready and it’s… we’re at the start of that journey but that’s… that’s without doubt the best thing.

Next best thing – you’re sitting in it. It’s… this is Federation House and this is, I am reliably informed, one of the oldest buildings where the Co-op was way back in the day. And we’ve stripped everything out, we’ve made it into a modern, digital, creative centre where we’re going to see not just the Co-op but other people in Manchester. Other parts of the digital-eco system work with us to really grow our… our community work and our membership play and actually play a part in the wider digital economy.

So those 2 things bookend my… my time here and if I then pick one other thing it’s the people. And everyone always says that don’t they?

And the people here in Manchester but more importantly all around the country. In our stores, in our funeral homes, in our logistics centres. I’ve been to some by no means enough and particularly our sort of people in community who do work. They’re relentlessly cheerful, optimistic, positive, got fantastic values and it’s been really quite humbling, so those 3 things I’d pick.

Nick Crofts
President of the Members’ Council