Engaging with our staff
We provide a variety of communications to staff in order to ensure that everyone is engaged in our business strategy and objectives. We do this through clear communication cascaded by team briefings, large employee events, intranet sites and regular e-newsletters.
Each month, our executive directors deliver business briefings to the senior management team. These briefings provide updates on the Company’s performance and give managers the opportunity to ask questions. This information is then communicated out to all head office employees by directors and senior managers.
We want to ensure that all staff are regularly updated on activity across the business. To meet this aim, we circulate a fortnightly e-newsletter in head office and distribution centres that contains articles on business activity, staff recognition and new recruits, policy updates and store promotions and events. Across the year we hold strategy briefings for head office and store employees, briefing on our progress and the launch of new initiatives, as well as covering other topics including Corporate Responsibility. Once a year, conferences for stores are held to communicate messages that are pertinent to our total business strategy, performance and the running of WHSmith stores. These conferences offer detailed information on products and the direction of the business.
Many of our staff, particularly in store and in our distribution centres, are members of a trade union. During the year, we have focused on strengthening our engagement with the trade unions representing our staff and we have created an Employee Communications Group for those employees who choose not to participate in Union activities.
Living our values
We share four key business values: Customer Focus, Drive for Results, Value Our People and Accountability.
VIP - Values in Practice
The WHSmith Values are actively pursued by employees across the business, and it is important that we recognise this work. To do so, we offer a head office ‘Values in Practice’ or ‘VIP’ scheme. Launched in 2004, this successful programme is an opportunity for any member of our team to nominate a colleague who has set a leading example in demonstrating one of the values. Each month a VIP nominee is selected as ‘VIP of the Month’ by the executive team as an example of how to live our values. Each nominee’s story is published in our staff newsletter and the VIP winner is rewarded with free tea or coffee for a month and three extra days holiday.
Our store staff work tirelessly to deliver our business plans and strategies. In recognition of this work, we celebrate the achievements of our store staff through several awards programmes. During November, December and January, we run the WHSmith Store Heroes scheme. The scheme recognises hundreds of employees based on their accomplishments at work. We also offer an Annual Store Awards programme, including Most Improved Store, Store of the Year, Store Manager of the Year, Area Manager of the Year and a Special Recognition Award.
Valuing our people
As people’s lifestyle patterns change, it is important that WHSmith provides a workplace and benefits to promote a good work life balance. Our ‘School Starter’ scheme grants working parents half a day paid leave to take their child to their first day at school. We offer phased retirement plans to allow employees to voluntarily reduce their working hours as their retirement date approaches. ‘V-Time Working’ enables employees to voluntarily reduce their working hours for a defined period, to cope with life changing events and in so doing reduce the levels of stress they face. During the year, we also relaunched our Holiday Trading Scheme which enables staff to buy additional holiday, and also our Cycle to Work scheme. In the year ahead, we will develop a more flexible total reward package which can be tailored to the needs of each employee.
Employee share ownership
WHSmith operates a HM Revenue & Customs Approved Save- As-You-Earn share option scheme (‘Sharesave Scheme’). The scheme, which we have operated for many years, provides employees with the opportunity to acquire shares in the Company on favourable terms. At the end of the savings period, the participant has the opportunity to buy the shares at a special option price that is fixed at the start of the scheme and at a discount to the share price at the time. 829 employees participate in the scheme.