Helping a government body to achieve more with incremental improvements.

How do you empower a public body training service to make fast, small changes that will help them survive in a national pandemic?

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) is a Crown non-departmental public body of the UK Government. Its purpose is to improve organisations and working life through the promotion and facilitation of strong industrial relations practice. One major service area they provide is staff and management training, with courses designed to deal with workplace problems and keep up to date with best practices. Built over fifteen years this service had seen good growth. However, there was a significant drop in revenue as a result of Covid-19.


  • Public Sector


  • UK

The problem

ACAS training services are delivered by highly trained staff, traditionally face-to-face. But in the pandemic, they were forced to pivot to online delivery. Immediately there was a drop in course bookings. Revenue was recovering, but not fast enough.

The approach

We needed to help ACAS quickly build its online presence and communicate course benefits. By completing a full digital audit and interviewing their people, we would be in a position to assess their current situation and suggest instant improvements.

The end-game

To use digital technology to provide quick wins, and allow ACAS to improve their own performance. This needed to be done through small incremental gains that could be quickly and simply implemented to build course uptake.

ACAS would benefit from incremental gains to improve its business.


ACAS works with millions of UK employers and employees every year to improve workplace relationships.

They are an independent public body that offer free, impartial advice on workplace rights, rules and best practice. They receive funding from the government, and the ACAS training is their only other method of income generation. A drop in this vital funding would result in their other services suffering. And, if there was ever a time that workforce support was needed, a pandemic was it.

The objective of this project was to review ACAS’ current marketing strategies, tactics and performance, to identify ‘one percenters’ – simple tweaks, changes, and tactics that could be used to create small, incremental improvements in marketing performance. The idea was that implementing enough one-percenters would compound to deliver a large improvement in overall performance.

And they wanted all of this to be completed within six weeks.

Working swiftly, we took ACAS from first conversations to recommendations in just six weeks.

Claire Grainger - Senior Strategist


There was no time to waste.

We developed a custom research and audit process – one that could be completed within the timelines. This included a full documentation review, ACAS staff and customer interviews, competitors analysis, and a full social and digital audit. All to be completed in the first two weeks of the project, it would give us the foundational data we needed to identify areas for improvement.

Interviewing key people–from sales to trainers–gave us valuable insights that allowed us to build on the plan. Audits and research followed, giving us a more comprehensive picture of the organisation and the problems they faced.


Working fast, we identified twelve key areas for immediate improvement and seven actions that could be implemented within the next few months.

We broke down the analysis by explaining the problem that they were facing and how the solution we were recommending could solve this.

Of course, providing recommendations was only the first step. Next, we needed to ensure that they could be actioned by the ACAS team. Through the interviews, we had established an understanding of the digital capabilities within the team, and we used these to provide recommendations for implementation. In addition, to help to make the next steps clearer, we provided an ‘impact vs effort’ matrix to help prioritise the work.

Presenting this back to the service directors allowed us to answer any questions and clarify the approach needed. The client feedback was overwhelmingly positive, particularly commenting on the clearly articulated strategies and actions needed to achieve them.