Utility operatives welcome ‘golden’ chance to have a say


Operational workers at Lanes Utilities are being invited to sit in the ‘Golden Chair’ at senior management meetings to contribute to decision making on service delivery.

A place at the weekly meetings, led by Lanes Utilities Director Andy Brierley, is reserved for a wastewater engineer or office-based operational colleague, to share ideas and gain better insights across the business.

Lanes Utilities, part of Lanes Group plc, is the sole wastewater network services maintenance partner for Thames Water, carrying out more than 1,000 jobs a day to inspect, clean, and repair drains and sewers.

Andy Brierley said: “We want to work as one team, where ideas are shared and everyone has a say on how we can continuously improve our service for Thames Water’s 15 million wastewater customers.

“The Golden Chair initiative recognises it is the people on the front line, doing the work, who need to be listened to most. The colour reflects the importance we place on their contribution.

“Our people have great insights into how we can make our service safer, more effective, and better for customers. We’re already implementing some fantastic ideas, and I’m sure more will come.”

One of those ideas came from Blockage Engineer Perry Greenaway who explained how his safety barrier kept collapsing in high winds and suggested the sourcing of stabilising feet to help hold it in place.

He said: “What should be a safety measure was becoming a hazard for others, especially when I was working on the highway or in pedestrian areas.

“When I suggested having barrier solution, everyone at the meeting jumped at the idea. Now it’s being introduced. It’s a great feeling to think I’ve made a difference for colleagues and customers.

“Being in the Golden Chair was a really good experience. You got to see all the decision-making that goes into delivering our service. I’ve always found Lanes to be a place that’s open to new ideas.”

Combination Recycler Assistant Jonathan Knight also attended a meeting. He said: “I was intrigued by the offer. It was a chance for me to put my points across to the benefit of all my colleagues.

“Everyone around the table was interested in what I had to say, and I could see there are a lot of good things coming down the line. If the Golden Chair keeps working like this, it can only do good.”

Blockage engineer Ashley Spooner (pictured at the management meeting in the orange jacket above) was also impressed with the experience. He said: “It’s good to get an insider view of where the money comes from and what it’s spent on.

“It showed me that senior managers do care about engineers, so if any colleague has a niggling question about their work and wants it answered, I would suggest they take a seat in the Golden Chair as well.”


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