Helen explains the benefit this

approach has on boosting staff knowledge and expertise. “We put a strong focus on training and, because of the way we work, we strive to broaden the skills set of our team. As the seasons change, they learn different skills. They might learn about different soil types, ways of planting, the different chemicals in the garden shop, or we could have a supplier rep in to help expand their product knowledge. That way, when the customer asks something, they realise they have that knowledge there.”

And, it is clearly a happy place to work, as some staff have been at Whiteleys for more than two decades. “If it’s for them, they stay a long time,” says Helen.

So, how does the business reward

staff for the extra hours and show them they are valued? “We do things like cook tea for everyone and we all sit down to eat together,” says Helen. “We’ve also done things like buy breakfast for everyone the morning after a late night; plus anyone who stays on after our big annual fireworks event knows we will get the pizzas in. “They may only be little things but it puts a smile on faces and lets them know we appreciate how hard they work. Also, over the Christmas period, if any staff wanted to attend one of our function nights, they could and got given an extra discount on their tickets.” “We used to do employee of the month,” adds Neil, “but we felt

“We always remind our team that customer doesn’t have to come here, they could go somewhere else. We are not a huge centre, so our strong customer service and our ethos has to be reflected as soon as visitors walk through the door.” Neil Redford

it wasn’t fair to single one person out and we wanted to spread that encouragement

and recognition.

Everyone has a great attitude and will say ‘let’s get stuck in’. We feel what we do is more effective rather than singling one person out – because everybody does a different job and they are unique at what they do.”

The team at Whiteleys continues

to grow, with a new plant manager taken on at the end of 2017 and a new merchandiser who joined at the start of the year. The input of each member of staff really is truly valued and helps make the business better. Of the newest addition to the

team, Helen says: “She was taken aback when I said she could put her stamp on the shop, as I’m not sure that was what she was used in her previous roles but we encourage our staff across the business to take ownership. We fully believe, if they get to put their ideas in and have an influence, they’ll look after the area like they own it.” “It’s nice for them to have their

DIYWK-22MAR19-GIMA_Layout 1 21/03/2019 09:49 Page 1

say,” adds Neil. “Because they are at the coalface and doing the job every day. If our team feel they own their workspace, it makes it better. We want them to believe in it – and they really do come up with some great ideas!”

22 MARCH 2019 DIY WEEK 13

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