Q: Can the Colchester Shrub End store staff be praised for very effective and safe control of queues? Staff need huge praise for going above and beyond.
A: We are incredibly proud of all our colleagues. Throughout the pandemic, our customers have relied upon us to keep our stores stocked and open for truly essential retail – buying the food they need to feed themselves and their families.
This wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible work of all our frontline colleagues. They have worked tirelessly under extremely challenging circumstances to provide a safe retail environment for our customers to buy food.
Q: Aside from an extra week of pay, how have you supported staff throughout the pandemic? Some are on the front line, others isolated at home.
A: Firstly, what was really important for our colleagues was their personal protection. We secured stocks of PPE early on, well before it became mandatory to wear face coverings.
Colleague welfare is paramount, and we have in place a confidential helpline to assist colleagues called Grocery Aid. A number of colleagues have taken the opportunity to use this service, where they can express concerns and worries freely in a confidential way and gain support. We also introduced a Covid helpline so that colleagues could access support and advice from our Health and Safety and HR Services teams.
In recognition of our colleagues’ determination and resilience the Board, in April 2020, gave an extra week’s pay to all colleagues, as well as £110 in vouchers in December and a further £50 before the April Bank Holiday. These additional payments were not made to our Leadership Team.
Colleagues also benefited from the doubling of their employee discount, from 10% to 20%. This enhanced benefit is still in place and this will be reviewed at the end of the year.
We pride ourselves on the care and support we provide our colleagues and therefore those that could work remotely have done so in line with Government instructions.
Q: Is the Society considering incorporating the minimum "Living" wage rather than the national minimum pay rates?
A: We continue to pay our colleagues under 25 years of age our full ‘adult’ pay rate rather than exercising the right to pay the lower rates permitted under national minimum wage regulations.
The hourly rate of the highest paid colleagues is 16.5 times that of our lowest paid colleague, being well within the maximum ratio of 1:20 recommended by the Work Foundation.
Q: In the present political climate what steps are the society taking to support your ethnic minority colleagues?
A: We continually strive to be a more inclusive and diverse organisation. We’re currently updating our action plan for the next 12 months following an external review by our internal auditors.