Engagement with our employees is higher than ever. Our bi-annual Reflect O2 survey attracted a response rate of 81 per cent in 2004 and, on a scale of 0 to 100, our people scored 78 points when asked if they were proud to work for O2.
In 2004/05 we encouraged our people to help themselves manage a good work/life balance by introducing a range of services to monitor and improve their health and to relieve stress.
We have also launched an Employee Forum panel in the UK. From 170 applicants, 16 members were selected to meet bi-monthly to discuss performance management, training, resources and policy development.
O2 UK recognises two unions - Connect, the union for professionals in communications, and the Communications Workers Union (CWU). Our Employee Relations Team works closely with Connect and CWU on relevant matters such as consultations on key business events, and negotiations on changes to terms and conditions such as the annual pay reviews.
With the commitment to invest in the O2 customer experience by creating 1,500 permanent jobs at our new Glasgow centre and an additional 500 employees in our stores, we have regrettably had to review the number of non-customer facing permanent roles to help fund these investments. We are currently consulting with Connect, CWU and employee representatives on proposals to reduce permanent roles in these areas by 500. It is our intention to manage these reductions through voluntary means where at all possible. As difficult as this will be for employees who are involved, we believe the strong net investment in UK jobs and growth is the right thing to do and will position us to succeed in a competitive market.
The Spirit of O2 Awards celebrate the achievements of our employees. Recognising outstanding performance, employees are encouraged to nominate their colleagues for awards such as Team Spirit, Customer Spirit and Leadership Spirit. 1,100 nominations were received in 2004 and we invited 450 guests to a gala evening to announce the eight individual winners and eight team winners.
In addition to the O2 mentors involved in the Weston Spirit programme, our policy is also to provide some of our people with paid time off to carry out community commitments - such as special constables, charity board members and school governors. We won the Good Employer category of The Guardian's Public Services Awards in 2004 for our approach in this area.
The spirit of O2 UK was never more powerful than after the Boxing Day tsunami.
Encouraged by the strength of support from our employees and our customers, we joined with other UK mobile phone operators to promote a cross-industry text donation initiative, where all costs were waived and we gained exemption from VAT every time a £1.50 text message was sent to the appeal.
In all, over 700,000 text messages were received and a massive £1 million was raised. Our employees added another £60,000 to that figure and we matched their contribution pound for pound.