Implementing a new vision at Virgin Trains
A Virgin Trains case study

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Page 4: From vision to culture

In order to embed a vision into the organisation, it needs to become part of every aspect of work. At a practical level, the Virgin Trains vision is supported by clear Human Resource (HR) activities. These HR activities help to shape the culture of the organisation.

People-focused initiatives at Virgin Trains recognise and reward high-performing employees. Team and individual awards are presented at official ceremonies to highlight where employees have made a difference.

Positive behaviours

The business encourages new behaviours. Behaviours focus not just on what Virgin Trains” people do but also how they do something. For example, this might be focusing on the customer, listening to others or taking a positive approach to challenges.

As part of the culture change, Virgin Trains also promotes charitable work in partnership with organisations such as CLIC Sargent, which raises money for children with cancer. The charity is chosen on a national basis by the company; each region then supports in its own way.

The benefit of this behaviour is a more caring approach to customers and staff. This enhances customer satisfaction and desire to use Virgin Trains more often. Virgin Trains behaviours have developed from the bottom-up approach of the vision workshops.

Influencing recruitment, selection and development

The vision also guides Virgin Trains recruitment and development processes:

  • At recruitment the key skills required to deliver the vision form part of the person specification. This means Virgin Trains attracts people who share the vision and behaviours.
  • At appraisal, employees are assessed on their contribution to the business, development and customer focus. Appraisal interviews take place regularly where employees discuss current performance with their line manager and identify future personal targets and goals.
  • For developing employees, Virgin Trains has created a Talent Wheel that identifies the sorts of behaviours employees need to show to highlight their potential for promotion. Those considered suitable for promotion will be employees who are currently performing well, want promotion, feel passionate about Virgin Trains and are currently developing the skills and knowledge required for a more advanced post.
  • Learning and development opportunities include a range of internal and external courses and training opportunities for employees. Examples include developing coaching skills or encouraging people to learn how to ask questions and take responsibility.
  • Leadership programmes for front-line staff and managers embody the vision.

Virgin Trains | Implementing a new vision at Virgin Trains