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People matter: Building a culture based on values

[Exclusive Part 1] Beaverbrooks, Ribble Cycle and Tesco agree, investing in your people is a non-negotiable and one of the most important (and attractive) employee benefits…. View Article


People matter: Building a culture based on values

[Exclusive Part 1] Beaverbrooks, Ribble Cycle and Tesco agree, investing in your people is a non-negotiable and one of the most important (and attractive) employee benefits.  

2023 is the year of People

If you want to smash your business goals in 2023, you need to be able to attract, retain, and grow top talent within your organisation. And the way to do that? By taking a strategic people-first approach to your business.

Why? Because when you invest in your team, they are going to be more engaged with their work and the business. And, prioritising retail employee engagement, translates to a host of positive outcomes.

The bottom line, people matter. A lot. When we feel valued and like we belong, we are more productive, more motivated and more engaged, so, go forth and invest boldly in your people strategy!  

But this is retail… 

Yes, I hear you. And the retail industry is notorious for long, unsociable hours, low wages, and oftentimes unruly customers. But financial incentives i.e., increasing wages, just won’t cut the mustard. Employees are voting with their feet in favour of more flexible working hours, continued availability of remote work, more autonomy and higher wages. They are also looking for an improved employee experience where they are supported, recognised, and valued.  

We all have our values

In the wake of the disruption from the past few years, expectations have changed.  

Climate change, sustainability, social responsibility — employees today want to work for organisations that not only reflect the values they believe in, but actively demonstrate them too. Employees are putting greater emphasis on values. They don’t just see shared values as a nice-to-have in employment, it’s now business critical 

But how do you take the idea of being a people first business and apply it in real terms? 

Start from the top, build it into the business strategy and make it part of your values.  

With a new urgency to get the people equation right, we saw a surge of retailers appointing Chief People Officer CPO) in 2022 including Gymshark, Pets at Home, Bloom and Wild and Pentland Brands. Businesses need to ensure that the vision for the CPO function is aligned with overall business strategy. 

High-street retailer Beaverbrooks, officially crowned the best large company to work for in the UK in 2021 are a solid example of this approach:  

“As a family-owned business, doing the best thing for our people is in our DNA, and this is reflected in every decision we make as a company. By staying true to our values, we have been able to deliver a record-breaking year of sales and profit — introducing a profit bonus, protecting our colleague’s jobs and keeping pay and hours fair.” says Mark Adlestone OBE DL, chairman of Beaverbrooks. 

Beaverbrooks managing director Anna Blackburn says enriching lives is not just about time and money, it is about how people within the company work, interact and treat people. 

“We believe in treating people in the right way and have the Beaverbrooks Way which everyone in the business works within. In effect, this is our moral compass,” she said. 

“Mark (Adlestone, chairman) believed that values-based leadership was the right way to take Beaverbrooks and the group worked together to articulate and set out our values.  The Beaverbrooks Way is integral in the business and all decisions are made with that in mind.” 

The ‘Beaverbrooks Way’ has five core values of passion, trust, fairness, caring and integrity. 

Regardless of business size, the ethos remains the same. We spoke to heritage brand Ribble Cycles for some insight as to how to achieve a successful people driven culture.  

Rowan Eden, Head of People at Ribble said: “Be clear on your vision, purpose, and values, and demonstrate how each colleague contributes to the success of the business, no matter what their role. People need to feel that their work is meaningful, this drives elevated levels of engagement and evidence shows that a highly engaged team leads to higher levels of productivity and retention. This shared vision and values will drive a strong company culture.  

“Whilst pay seems to be more important than ever right now, we mustn’t be dismissive of how important the culture of a company is and can often be the difference between talent choosing to work for a company, or not.” 

In 2022, Tesco made significant investments in colleague wages, benefits, and skills training. Emma Taylor, Chief People Officer, said: “Our colleagues really are at the heart of our business.  

“We work hard to provide them with the best opportunities to develop and progress in their careers, as well as understanding what makes them feel valued and appreciated. This helps us ensure Tesco remains a great place to work for all – something central to our values.” 

Here at TRB, we so passionately believe that people need to be valued and recognised that we are putting together the 2023 People in Retail Awards. We want to encourage, promote, and celebrate all the successes at all levels of our industry. Find out more here.   


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