Good Work for All: Regular staff ‘check-ups’ at Greggs to improve employee satisfaction and performance

Greggs identified issues with working hours as a key motivator for employees leaving the business, so the bakery chain introduced employee ‘health checks’, to gain a better understanding of employee needs. The company believes this could have a big impact on employee satisfaction and retention leading to better customer service.

Greggs is the UK’s largest bakery chain, with more than 1,800 shops and 20,000 employees so retaining staff is a top priority. Using HR data, Greggs was able to identify a key motivator for employees leaving the business and has taken steps to improve employee satisfaction across its shops.

As a customer-facing business, Greggs has an imperative to ensure that colleagues across its 1,800 shops are happy and engaged. Each year the company conducts an opinion survey of its staff; which has revealed a clear correlation between high levels of employee engagement and the best sales and customer service.

To improve employee satisfaction levels, Greggs did some analysis to understand why shop colleagues leave the business. Though Greggs has never used zero-hours contracts, many of its staff are part-time, generally contracted for 16 hours. However, Greggs’ analysis revealed that one of the most common reason employees leave the business is a need for more hours or greater predictability of hours. 

To address this challenge, Greggs has introduced employee ‘health checks’ – where Shop Managers will meet with direct reports twice a year to understand whether they are happy with their number and frequency of hours. Every decision about shifts and hours needs to be a balance of staff preferences and the needs of the shop; but Greggs hopes that these check-ups will help to identify where there might be small adjustments which could have a big impact on employee satisfaction, and retention.

The benefits
The ‘health checks’ are already leading to a better understanding of employee needs, as a Shop Manager in the Midlands explains: 'Just by talking to colleagues about their hours and finding out their preferences has helped me try and give people the shifts they want. You can’t always give everyone exactly what they want, but I know who wants more hours and is flexible and who struggles to cover particular times of the day.’

Top tips for other businesses
Different people have different needs, for some irregular hours and shifts can work really well but for others they absolutely need certainty of when they are working so that they can arrange the rest of their lives. It’s as simple as talking and listening to your people.