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Being kind is not being soft

In the first season of That Wellbeing @ Work Show we’ve heard from some of the world’s leading experts in the employee wellbeing space. So I thought it was time to hear from an organisation whose commitment to creating a happy, inclusive, caring and high-performing culture is lived and breathed from bottom to top!

Janet Leighton is the superbly titled Director of Happiness at the Timpson Group one of the UK and Ireland’s leading retailers with over 2000 stores and 5000 colleagues.

This is a fascinating insight into a business who really do put the wellbeing of their employees front and centre yet at the same time instil a high-performance culture that delivers bottom line success.

A very diverse workforce [2:36]

The Timpson Group are one of the largest employers of ex-offenders. Janet explains that although employing people with a previously troubled background does sometimes come with challenges, the rewards of helping people to turn their lives around is extremely valuable.

Communication is the foundation of our culture [3:34]

Timpson prides itself on having a listing and open communication culture. Employees are encouraged to share their feelings, emotions and issues. As Janet explains, the firm may not always be able to solver employee’s issues but they will always listen.

Autonomy is key to wellbeing and engagement [5:18]

Janet explains the latitude that employees are given such as setting store opening times and determining prices. This she argues leads to greater employee engagement and allows the employee to flourish.

Technology to support wellbeing [6:44]

Janet reveals that technology in terms of a branch dashboard is used to ‘take the temperature’ of how employees are feeling. Scores (particularly low ones) are fed back to regional management who contact the individual to try and resolve any issues. As Janet explains the issues often relate to a problems in an individual’s personal life that the firm is always happen to help with.

The importance of financial wellbeing [8:10]

Timpson have a substantial wellbeing fund deployed to help employees in financial distress and how important this has become because of the cost of living crisis. Janet explains that supporting employees financially is a win for the firm as happier employees feed directly to the bottom line.

Being kind isn’t being soft

Few organisations display the level of kindness to their employees to the same degree as Timpson. Janet argues that kindness is being soft. Timpson expect great things from their employees and kindness is the best motivator.

What makes an attractive employer? [12:09]

Flexibility is key says Janet. The pandemic has led many employees to re-evaluate their priorities and employers that offer flexibility and autonomy will attract better talent.

Timpson’s wellbeing initiatives [13:36]

Janet outlines some of the firms other wellbeing initiatives such as time away for the death of a pet or an additional day off for a child’s first day at school or nursery.

Wellbeing starts at the interview [19:14]

Janet explains that their focus on wellbeing and culture begins at the interview by carefully outlining the values of the business and stressing the importance of the behaviours they expect and what the employee can expect in return.

The Timpson University [21:43]

Janet reveals that the company have created a dedicated learning facility whereby colleagues from across the business are encouraged to undertake 13 months of learning in Timpson’s philosophy of ‘Upside Down Management’.


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