Employees rate retail co-op highly

Midcounties Co-operative has been consistently been rated as one of the top organisations in the country for engaging with its employees.

Midcounties Co-operative has been consistently been rated as one of the top organisations in the country for engaging with its employees.

For three years running it has been included in the Sunday Times listing of the 25 Best Big Companies to Work For — this year it was ranked 13th among companies such as Iceland, McDonalds, Marriott, PwC, American Express, Boots and Hilton.

The Sunday Times listings are judged on feedback from an employee survey which assesses all areas of the employment experience. This includes leadership, personal development, wellbeing and remuneration.

On news of this year’s award, Chief Executive Ben Reid says: “Our business is built on ethical values. We believe in involving colleagues, helping them to develop and enjoy their work so we can deliver the best for our customers and members.

“An engaged workforce is key to our success as the largest independent co-operative society in the UK. To be recognised as among the very best employers in the country confirms our approach is the right one.”

Midcounties employs more than 9,000 people across its traditional retail businesses of food, pharmacy, funerals and travel, but also in much newer areas such as childcare and Co-operative Energy.

The Sunday Times judges says that in dealing with the acquisition of 20 nurseries last year, new staff were nervous at working for an organisation that was strongly associated with selling food.

Midcounties made them feel welcome by getting bosses to visit sites to discuss concerns, the result being that staff feel everyone is treated fairly, which was gauged from a 66 per cent positive score and a top-10 ranking.

Mike Abbott, the General Manager for Childcare, said the doubts were understandable given the sensitive nature of the work. “It’s much more emotive, this business, than just about any other business I can think of.”

He added that he and other managers defused concerns by being approachable and listening to staff. “It’s all first-name terms here. We try to be as accessible as possible,” he says.

Midcounties staff say managers ensure they have the resources they need to do their job (75 per cent) and do not take advantage of them (69 per cent).

The newly acquired nurseries also benefited from the introduction of colleague councils, which are used across the co-operative businesses.

Employees at the Warwick-based co-operative can also air their views by speaking to one of more than 300 representatives who pass their thoughts on to bosses.

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