A great businessman once said to me that the most important part of his huge corporation was his staff. “It’s always been the staff you see, right from when I owned one shop and made £100 a week. They are the ones that do the work lass, you have to treat ‘em right!”

He said many other wise words to me but it was these ones that stuck with me throughout the whole process of setting up shop myself and they still ring true today.

I do not doubt that in my company, the staff are my most valuable asset. They are the ones facing the clients every day, bringing in new business and keeping on top of the stores. If the staff aren’t on board then you have zilch and very successful companies can fade into nothing if the staff decide they’ve had enough. Unfortunately then, as well as being my most valuable asset they are also my most volatile.

As such, I decided very early on that I wanted to create a community within my company so that it was more than just work, it was almost a way of life somehow.  I introduced a strong brand to the company from the start, working only with colours of teal and lime and using a simple but effective logo. The first shop was painted with a branded sign out front, teal feature wall and lime skirting boards with white everywhere else. It looked fresh, clean, new and most importantly it looked like something. I followed this through with the staff uniform, sticking to the same colours and having embroidered logos on the cuffs and collars of the work shirts and on the half aprons too.  This uniform is now standard across all of my stores and creates a recognisable brand for customers but also an identity for the staff.

As well as these more standard procedures I have also implemented the 20% rule, which is to say that for 20% of an employee’s time at work they should be doing something other than work. It’s a difficult time management principle to implement, but if you can nail it, it works wonders. Researching, playing, relaxing; whatever it is that helps the staff to perform better. This makes the staff feel valued and also encourages them to do things together socially, perhaps taking advantage of the generous and well equipped staff areas behind scenes. In addition all staff get access to continuing professional development as standard and I expect to support staff moving through the ranks.

Lastly, there can be no staff community without a few dreaded team building activities and the annual drunken Christmas party. Again, standard procedure but effective when combined with the other bits and pieces. I know I have to look after my staff as if I do, they tend to look after me. And I don’t just mean getting me home safely after that awful party!

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