Be Wigan is an inspirational learning experience all staff are undertaking in Wigan Council.  It gives them a glimpse of how they have been working up until now and are introduced to The Deal for the future 2020.  Staff play a vital role in helping the council deliver the Deal for the future, this engagement gives them permission to work differently and embrace all of the “behaviours.”

The experience started with an informal meeting where colleagues had an opportunity to introduce themselves and hear a little bit the journey of The Deal and the Be Wigan Tour.

The Past, The Present, The Future, The Pledge

Just a short walk from the prestigious Town Hall the tour took place in the old civic building. A whole floor has been converted into an innovative space for staff and partners to interact and be part of the vision and future of Wigan. 

The tour started on the green path …. The room we entered saw us transported back into 2010, the set-up of an old office including: desktop printer, fax machine, desks with photographs, dead plants and work in progress boards. 

Following on the green path brought us to the “where we are now/what we have achieved” section. Connections were made here and it’s where staff can really see “what has this that got to do with me?  How have I been part of this journey?”

Further down the green path we fast forward to Wigan 2020, this is by far the largest section of the tour, it’s the place where staff can hear and see some of the fantastic work so far, with various spoken case studies and examples of achievements.  The room is full of boards that sum up facts and ambitions and they show what the borough will look like as a whole: new homes, new jobs, more skills, qualifications and economic growth.  Some time is spent talking about partners. Getting people thinking about whom our partners are and who we are already working with. GMCA boards show they are not alone in all of this, explaining the 10 districts in GM and the strengths of Wigan’s voice in this partnership.This section clearly explains what they mean by growth and reform and helps staff see the layers, where they fit into the bigger plan and how they can play their part in the Deal for the Future.

After a lengthy stint on our feet we set back off on the green carpet to what turned out to be the best surprise of the day. We arrived at the #Bewigan Cinema room; this is basically an old office that had been painted black and filled with chairs set out theatre style.  As we entered the room we were given a tub of popcorn and offered a seat.  The lights went down and a series of talking head videos started playing.  The films gave staff and projects an opportunity to shine and share some of their achievements. It also gave visitors a great insight into some of the real on the ground work that is happening throughout borough.

Another short walk on the green path and we arrive at an interactive behaviours room.  The message here:  Be Accountable (be responsible for making things better) – Be Positive (take pride in all you do) – Be Courageous (be open to doing things differently).  We didn’t play the game but there is a fabulous energising activity for staff to take part in which helps them see the things “I do” and just as importantly think about the things “I don’t”.  It’s a fun way of staff learning what behaviours they display the most and what areas they need to concentrate on more. After the full activity the individual should have a result which shows them which behaviour comes out on top and they each register their dominant behaviour in another fun activity and eventually the organisation will build up a picture of the percentages of the 3 behaviours as a whole.  At present, with 85% of the 4500 staff having undertaken the tour, Be Accountable and Be Positive are leading the board.

This led nicely into the next section, we had talked about the dos and don’ts in terms of behaviours, but what do those kind of words mean in real life? In this section we were greeted by an interactive table of services with voice case studies. “Listen to our Stories” – someone from every directorate has volunteered a story and the visitor can choose to listen to any or all of the videos. Each clip will tell you what Be Wigan means to them and how they display the behaviours every single day. This can be as simple as seeing someone walk past looking a little lost, then being positive and going to ask them if they are ok and see where you can help them.

Further along this section we entered the Staff Deal. This is where staff can learn more about what they are entitled to as Wigan employees.


  • My rewards an online platform: Online shopping through my rewards will return various cash back amounts, money off, top up cards
  • Support you to give something back: Every employee has the opportunity to receive 2 paid leave days to volunteer somewhere in the borough
  • Offer opportunities to learn and grow: Coaching, mentoring, training, work shadowing and attending seminars

There is a seamless link from this to My Time and My Time Extra section.  This is a new and innovative approach not taking away from the old performance objectives and scoring model but enhancing the model. It adds consistency and quality.  It is no longer dreaded, it is not a one off exercise and there isn’t a lot of prep.

This is a tool for managers and employees to have an ongoing two way conversation making sure time is more focussed and more meaningful. It is a chance to discuss opportunities and to learn and grow. Actions can be set and there can be explanations of how they link to the wider team/service/organisation.

Finally our journey on the green carpet takes us the Pledge room.  Staff have been through the experience and seen the deal for the Future (2020). They have talked about the importance of the Deal, the staff Deal, and the councils set of behaviours.  It is clear that staff play a vital role in helping the council deliver the Deal for the future, here they are given permission to work differently and embrace all of the behaviours.  Finally they are asked to name three new things that they learnt on the experience and name 3 things that they saw or heard that makes them proud to work for the council.

They are now ready to make their personal BeWigan pledge. This is something that they will commit to do, that will show others that they are willing to deliver the Deal for the future and display the councils behaviours in everything they do.  Pledging together makes Wigan a better place to work, invest, live and visit.

A networking – evaluation room is situated in the final room of the tour. Here staff can stop for a drink and some sweet treats and leave their evaluation of the day.  A more detailed online feedback tool can be accessed after the day.

Key: Top 5 organisational things that pulled all of this together:

  • Organisational clarity from Chief Executive right through the organisation everybody knows what the strategic objectives are how everyone buy into it
  • Consistency of driving the same messages through every tool available
  • Highly engaged workforce and readiness to change
  • Appetite of organisation leadership to be brave and do something different
  • Recognising that staff are at the heart of everything the organisation does

Fortnightly Corporate engagement sessions for staff are hosted with Chief Executive Donna Hall and the leader of the council.

For further information about the Be Wigan tour or the Wigan deal please contact Catherine O’Neill: