Changing our culture

We want our Postmasters to know that we have learned from past mistakes and see the benefits of changes we are making following the judgments in the civil and criminal courts.

Although today’s Post Office is very different from the past, restoring the trust of Postmasters will take time. This isn’t about quick fixes, but fundamental changes in every part of the organisation, reviewing every process, procedure and policy.

We are on that journey and over the past two years we have delivered a series major cultural and operational improvements to right historic failings and ensure that we are fit for future. These are based on Postmaster feedback and have taken part in every part of the business – from initial training through to daily transactions and accounting.

In addition to the changes to our systems and processes (which you can read about here), some of our cultural milestones include:

  • Postmaster Leadership

    • Appointing two serving Postmasters on the Post Office Board as Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) to ensure that decisions taken at the very top of the organisation are grounded in the reality of Postmasters’ experiences. Since June 2021, Saf Ismail and Elliot Jacobs have served as the first two NEDs and been very well received.

    • Appointing a serving Postmaster as Postmaster Experience Director within the Management team itself to bring the voice of the Postmaster into the day-to-day running of the business. Following the end of Hithendra Cheetirala’s term in December 2023, Mark Eldridge recently succeeded him.

  • Listening to our Postmasters

    • Holding two Postmaster conferences each year – one at the start of the financial year, and one at the half year. These are attended in person, and also streamed online so all Postmasters can tune in and ask questions. These serve as an opportunity to update Postmasters on business performance, future strategy and new initiatives and support to support Postmasters in the running of their businesses. The most recent took place in November 2023 in Bristol, and another is planned in Spring 2024.

    • Conducting annual Postmaster research. In 2021, Post Office launched a nationwide Postmaster consultation to better understand our Postmasters’ businesses, the challenges they face and the aspirations that drive them. This exercise is now repeated on an annual basis and we have also introduced a supplementary ‘Pulse Survey’. The outputs of these surveys are shared widely across the business to help inform decision-making across the business.

  • Partnering with our Postmasters

    • Ensuring that the Postmaster voice and experience is embedded into its processes and procedures. For example, Post Office has an IT Working Group, a Branch Change Operational Forum and twelve Regional Forums all made up of serving Postmasters that enable Postmasters to directly share ideas and feedback to shape the direction of the business.

    • For example, in 2020 Post Office launched a cross-functional programme to replace our Horizon IT system with a new branch system that will underpin the future of our network. Built with Postmasters, for Postmasters, this will be faster, simpler and more intuitive to use – and the Postmaster IT Working group is central to this new system’s design and roll-out.

  • Educating Post Office colleagues

    • Launching the ‘Adopt an Area’ initiative for all Senior Leaders to visit and listen to Postmasters on a regular basis, to ensure that the leadership of the business hears first-hand the challenges and experiences of Postmasters.

    • Delivering the new “Perfect Day” initiative since December 2022, which provides an opportunity for Senior Leaders to visit branches and make sure that Postmasters have everything they need to run a successful Christmas campaign. This was successfully repeated in 2023 the run-up to Christmas.

    • Running 'Week in the Life of a Postmaster’ training for more than 1,800 support colleagues to help them put themselves in Postmasters' shoes (and which is now mandatory for all new joiners). This complements support that the majority of colleagues provide in-branch during the busy Christmas period, so that Post Office staff understand what it is like to operate a Post Office and bring this experience back to their work.

    • Launching mandatory training around the issues raised in the High Court Group Litigation Order (GLO) case, which sets out the issues identified in the judgement and what has changed at Post Office as a result of this, to ensure colleagues understand how and why the business needs to evolve.

    • Taking steps to ensure colleagues understand the scale and impact of the Horizon IT Scandal. For example, in early 2024 Post Office hosted 90 minute sessions in its offices on the scandal, its impact and the ways in which colleagues individually and collectively can improve Post Office’s culture today and in the future.

Sir Wyn’s public Inquiry is also well underway and is in the second half of its evidence-taking phase. We expect Sir Wyn to present his recommendations in due course and the business stands ready to respond to these.