Patisserie Valerie have shown how a happy workplace is a productive workplace

Last time out we posted an article about the careers section on the new look Patisserie Valerie website. In it we discussed how they like to think of their staff not just as workers but as family. By creating this family atmosphere, they ensure that everyone:

  1. Is happy in their work
  2. Supports each other
  3. Pulls in the same direction

This is important as it reflects in the treatment of their customers. Being served by happy, smiling staff may bring a little bit of sunshine into their day. customers enjoy being there and will not only return but will probably tell all of their friends and family about the wonderful time they had eating there. With the power and influence of social media the message spreads far and wide, bringing business to their many other high street stores across the UK. Positive recommendations such as this are like gold dust for their business.

A happy workplace is a productive workplace. Let me give you another example (names have been changed but this is a true story). A large office of around 500 staff, in a city somewhere in the depths of the wild West Midlands, was run by Mark. The staff liked Mark, he was friendly and approachable and would always smile and say hello and take time to chat with staff, knowing everybody’s name. He was no pushover though; he expected the best but his staff loved him and went out of their way to make sure the very best was what he got.

One day Mark decided it was time to retire so he handed the reins to his deputy, Shirley. If there were ever two complete opposites as Mark and Shirley… she saw the staff as beneath her and strode through the building with a face like thunder and her nose in the air. She only ever communicated with the management team directly below her.

She decided that things had been too relaxed under Mark and boasted to her superiors at head office that she could get better results than him. Her methods were to get rid of all the little perks and rewards for good work. Targets were set and teams that used to cooperate were forced to compete. Staff talking to each other when they should be working was banned and personal use of the phones was also banned. They were there to work, not socialise.

Any hopes of higher productivity were soon dashed. Staff came in, did their set hours and went home but their work rate dropped significantly. Nobody wanted to go the extra mile, why should they if it wouldn’t be appreciated? Everybody was miserable and both sickness rates and staff turnover rocketed.

How did the story end? Mark enjoyed his retirement and Shirley was replaced.

Remember in a previous post we talked about recruiting the right people for your team? We mentioned the personality traits you should be looking for; just as a reminder:

  • Are they able to cooperate with others?
  • Are they able to communicate ideas effectively?
  • Do they display leadership qualities?
  • Are they sociable?
  • Do they feel the need for recognition?
  • Are they considerate towards others?
  • Are they dependable?
  • Are they efficient?
  • Are they even-tempered?
  • Are they achievers?
  • Are they self-confident?
  • Are they able to think outside of the box? 

If you are lucky, or skilled, enough as a recruiter to find a group of individuals with the qualities listed above, then you are in a position to mould a winning team. Remember, though, a team is only as good as its leader. Do you have the attributes needed to make your team successful? Let’s have a look at some of the questions you should be asking yourself:

  1. Are you approachable? Being friendly is not showing weakness! You want your staff to be confident that, when they speak to you, they will not ignored/shouted at/growled at etc. Spread a bit of sunshine.
  2. Are you supportive? Not everybody has an idyllic life and sometimes they have concerns at home that need tending to. Are you the sort of boss that will stand by them when they need it?
  3. Are you encouraging? When someone gets something wrong, explain what they should be doing to prevent them making the same mistake. When they get things right, congratulate them.
  4. Are you open to suggestions? You don’t know everything! If someone has a suggestion on how to improve performance, then listen to what they have to say. It helps to have people look at problems from a different angle and what they bring to you could be a winning idea.
  5. Are you leading by example? You’ve got an industrious team working flat out, you can sit back and take it easy – no! Work harder than the best of them and they will follow your lead.
  6. Are you positive? Nobody likes a negative nelly. (Did I just write negative nelly? Who am I? My grandmother?). Annnnyway, spread a little positivity and your team will respond positively.
  7. Are you inspiring? Are your actions and words an inspiration to others? Or are they glad they are not you? You decide.
  8. Are you able to delegate? Don’t take on too much. Have faith in your team and hand over tasks to them. Not only will it relieve the strain from your workload, they will be glad you showed trust in them.
  9. Are you able to communicate effectively? This is a key point. You can have all the ideas in the world, but they will make no difference whatsoever if you your team members cannot make head nor tail of what you are trying to convey. Be clear, be concise.
  10. Are you creating an atmosphere that makes your staff want to be there? Take another look at the tale of Mark and Shirley and decide for yourself which is the best way to operate.

Smiles are infectious. Our friends at Patisserie Valerie have shown the way to create a place of work that is more like a second home. By creating their unique family atmosphere, they have made it a pleasure for their staff members to come to work in the morning, knowing they are part of something special. It is the way a business should be run.


Contact Recruitive today to find out how we can help.



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