The push for upper quartile – The ignored impact on employees

Back to all Motions

2018 Water, Environment & Transport Conference
23 February 2018

As conference will be aware Ofwat is pushing forward it’s vision for the water sector commencing in 2020. A major part of this is to push competition between the water companies harder than before. The phrase ‘upper quartile’ in now bandied about as the place to be and those who are not ‘upper quartile’ will be penalised and punished.

Come day one of the next five-year period any water company not assessed in the ‘upper quartile’ will lose out. This model means that there will always be losers as not all companies can finish in the ‘upper quartile’ in fact only three or four will do so. As a result, there will always be more losers than winners.

The impact on employees is massive as teams are already being changed and increased performance targets set. As companies push to achieve the elusive ‘upper quartile’ position without even knowing what is needed to attain the position. Targets may be achieved and/or exceeded with the result still being failure. Hard working employees may end up being penalised through no fault of their own, which will not only increase stress in the work place but may lead to increased job insecurity.

In response to Ofwat publishing its strategy for the next five years, from 2020, this Conference calls upon the Service Group Executive to:

(1) Respond to Ofwat’s strategy outlining the negative impact on employees

(2) Engage with Ofwat to encourage the consideration of employees when setting future strategies to avoid unwanted side effects.