Russell Parsons

Now, of course I have no idea if the employee in question enjoyed his job or felt a particular affinity with the company paying his wages but no matter, he was for the moment I saw him at least the perfect brand ambassador.

It is fair to say that his counterparts at Royal Mail have not always been the greatest cheerleaders for the brand. Industrial disputes borne from wave after wave of working practise modernisation created an almost perpetual stand-off between employee and employer that seemed to offer most of the postal workers that crossed my path – I speak with some authority as the son of a father that spent 30 years employed by Royal Mail – with little reason other than to scowl.

Royal Mail has recognised this, introducing several initiatives to acknowledge the contribution its staff make in the hope of developing an army of willing brand ambassadors. It introduced a “delivered by” mark last year ostensibly to recognise the work of its employees as well as re-establishing the brand behind the service.

And now, if weekend reports are to be believed, Royal Mail staff are set for a bumper pay day. Unconfirmed reports have it staff will be offered up to a tenth of shares when Royal Mail is privatised. Shares will be offered for free, it is said, in a bid to spread employee ownership and placate any disquiet over what a post-privatised company would look like.

This is potentially a smart move by Royal Mail. If the company is to perform when fully exposed to the vagaries as well as the opportunities the free market brings then it needs a workforce of ambassadors as well as the suite of direct marketing services it is currently offering under the Market Reach brand.

Questions have hung over Royal Mail for years. The question of the nature of privatisation has remained unanswered for too long and the fractious relationship between staff and employer has held back progress.

Privatisation will not be a cure all but it offers the organisation a chance to renew, not only business practices but its relationship with its biggest asset – staff. And maybe then it will bike-riding Royal Mail staff that will be noteworthy.