If you were listening to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning you may have heard the chief executive of Pret a Manger sounding very happy about the sandwich chain’s results: like-for-like sales up 10% and net earnings of £76m. Unsurprising really – they make an adequate sandwich and have been working on the brand for many years. But the interesting part of the interview came when Clive Schlee was asked to explain why Pret is a successful company – he didn’t talk about management or driving profits, but about the way a happy team is the core of a successful company.
According to Schlee, Pret goes out of its way to recruit outgoing, cheerful people who get on in teams, and then puts in even more effort to look after those teams and make sure they communicate well together. Asked if the key incentive now was to make people feel happy, loved and cared-for at work, more than financial reward, he said you have to have a bit of both, but that “connection with the company and your colleagues is a prime motivator in any business”.
Schlee says that staff socialise together and feel a genuine connection to their colleagues, the company and, vitally, the customers. Curiously enough these are among the core questions that WeThrive asks, because the 4C model for intelligent performance puts them at the centre of a functional culture where staff enjoy work and get things done.
In some organisations these would be seen as luxuries – surely the main thing is to focus on work rather than ‘fluffy’ social factors or, worse still, enjoyment. But the hard fact is that productivity, enthusiasm, engagement, motivation – and in the end staff retention and even the number of customers on the doorstep – all depend on a social connection between people. Pret seems to have found a way to make that happen, and we can help you do that too. Whatever you think of high street sandwiches, and the ‘happy culture’ of some fast-food outlets, if the staff are having a good time, that’s good for business as well.
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