"A good heart, they say, is hard to find, but staff at the Essex fresh produce supplier have managed to track one down. Compassionate core values and an apple a day make for a stress-free workforce at Hart Worldwide.
The fresh fruit on offer is not just for staff consumption; the company sources and supplies apples and pears for Asda (see our list of the best big companies to work for). Based in Harlow, this family firm still counts the sons of founder Sydney Hart among its senior team, although John Potter, the managing director, now heads the outfit.
Potter expounds a ""one team"" approach in which staff support each other within both their working and home lives. They are trusted to handle their workloads responsibly and efficiently without having their hours formally managed, and flexible working is in place where appropriate.
Employees report low stress levels, and responses to all questions in the wellbeing category of our survey display an exceedingly contented team — the most contented of all 100 best SMEs. Just 3% have suffered stress-related symptoms in the past year, while 93% have not suffered ill health due to work. Almost 90% of staff members are happy with their work-life balance.
Colleagues enjoy each other's company and work well together, too; 91% say they care about their team-mates and 90% think they are fun to work with. Social get- togethers include trips to the ballet and opera, paintballing, and a quiz presided over by Potter. He is well respected; 89% are inspired by his leadership, another top SME score.
The company invests heavily in off-the-job training, supporting its staff in diverse qualifications that range from accountancy to an MA in human resources management. A ""try new things"" initiative gives £100 to each employee to spend on any type of training they choose, and online courses also have a good take-up rate. More than 92% (top score again) are happy with the support they receive when they need to learn new skills.
Staff benefit from a profit-share bonus worth 10% of basic salary if targets are met, plus free private healthcare and gym membership. The company also gives something back to the community via a relationship with St Clare's, a local hospice. As well as fundraising, at least one employee a month is pledged to help out with anything here from carpet cleaning to database work.
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