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First Bus

Developing a new First Bus purpose, values & behaviours, People Promise (EVP) and activation campaign.

The Challenge

With 12,800 employees and 4,500 buses across 52 depots, First Bus is one of the largest regional bus operators in the UK with 80% market share outside London and making 1.1 million customer daily journeys.

With the effects of covid-19 still being felt, alongside challenges around rising fuel costs, supply chains, and increasing customer expectations, they were significant obstacles our work was asked to address;

  • Recruitment and retention of key talent in a competitive marketplace 

  • Lack of a consistent employee experience

  • Pockets of demotivated and disconnected workforce 

  • Bus drivers were key workers that supported the nation, but this had an impact on attitudes to their work and their workplace 

  • Vehicle estate and bus station working environments were under-invested in

Dragonfish were engaged by First Bus to help the organisation shift towards becoming a more people and customer-centric culture.

The Solution

As part of the validation of the new purpose and ‘Our Way’, we facilitated an away day with the Wider Leadership Team that consisted of over 100 leaders across the UK.

Next in the transformation journey was the launch and activation of the new purpose, strategy and ‘our way’. 

Based on the insights around two key opportunities; Customer Connection and Genuine Care. From the earlier discovery, we observed a key delivery mechanism for the communications campaign to launch the new culture narrative and blueprint, which included the new business strategy, purpose and 'Our Way’ to the organisation. 

The concept was to celebrate the diversity of the First Bus people. This was brought to life through a newspaper, newspaper stands, USB sticks, and lanyards. 

To deliver on the commitment to put people and customers at the centre of the organisation, First Bus were also working on other important projects with other partners. 

As a final stage, we were delighted to support the evolution of a new People Promise (EVP). We also created a roadmap to support the activation and embedding of their culture blueprint.


Our Impact


First Bus now demonstrate putting people and customers at the centre of the transformation. The impact is about a more aligned and united organisation through a clear sense of purpose, strategy and behaviours that are consistent across the nation, shifting from a more regional mindset. 

The new culture blueprint and narrative has also been used to continue to strengthen the leadership team and make some important management structure changes. 

The grounded, co-creation approach has also helped the organisation be more transparent with their people around their ongoing transformation journey. 

They have reported 9% increase in Employee Engagement as a consequence of the culture transformation programme. 

They also witnessed a tangible reduction in turnover of employees, signalling a more stable and skilled workforce.

They have adopted a new management framework, driving a more intimate catch-up session over conventional appraisals between managers and their teams to foster open communication. ,

Nearly 8,000 conversations unfolded showcasing a commitment to swiftly address employee concerns.

"dragonfish really connected with the strengths and realities of our organisation, helping us to evolve our purpose and culture and put people and customers at the heart of our transformation" 


Kevin Green, Chief People Officer

First Bus

If you'd like to understand this project or our approach in more detail,

email or call 023 8082 8505

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