Neil Goodwin outlines how colleagues led Wickes’ response to the cost-of-living crisis
Wellbeing is fully integrated into the culture at Wickes. We describe working for us as ‘Feeling at home’, and that’s quite powerful for us to test our initiatives and benefits against, to make sure they fit with our wider culture. For us, being healthy and productive is a key differentiator as a retailer – it’s a tough market, where there’s not a lot of differentiation on basic pay – so having a strong wellbeing culture is key for our overall employee value proposition (EVP).
With this in mind, we reacted as early as we could to take action to support staff during the cost-of-living crisis.
We set up a colleague-led cost-of-living working group, which helped us to come up with a number of initiatives to support colleagues with cost-of-living pressures. Measures included: enhancing our colleague discount, introducing free food provision within our stores, and running webinars for the first time on the cost of living and pensions.
We also reviewed targets for our store-based bonus plan, in light of the economic conditions – again, a suggestion that came from the cost-of-living working group. It has been really good see the output of that group lead to some practical and valued solutions for colleagues.
Monitoring ongoing needs
As part of the ongoing process of assessing colleague needs, we recently ran a pulse survey to get feedback on the cost-of-living initiatives we’ve introduced. It highlighted that many colleagues are being personally affected by the cost-of-living crisis, and there’s a risk that this is going to have a knock-on effect for them at work.
Having this information is really important, as when we’re trying to make a business case to make changes and bring in new benefits and services, we can be clear on what we’re actually hearing from our colleagues.
In addition to finding out what support colleagues need to help with the cost of living, we’re also pressuring our brokers to make savings in our benefits renewals, with the aim of potentially redirecting that money to support cost-of-living initiatives.
Don’t neglect wider wellbeing
As we look forward, we will inevitably continue our focus on cost of living to maintain what we’ve already got, as well as to introduce new initiatives. But we are being careful at same time not to neglect wider wellbeing, which is easy to do at the moment.