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A JOB AT Nando's is as hot as the restaurant chain's signature peri-peri chicken dish, with happy employees ranking it the best big company to work for in the UK.
Our figures speak for themselves; the company has not only debuted in first place on our big list, but also attained the best overall positive factor scores for Wellbeing (70%), My Manager (76%) and My Team (79%). Nando's came second for Leadership (75%) and attained third place positions for Fair Deal (61%) as well as My Company (77%). The company also managed 72% for Personal Growth, a score bettered by just three other organisations. With more than 220 restaurants nationwide and more than 6,300 employees, or Nandocas as they are affectionately known, the firm continues to see substantial growth with another 20 restaurants forecast to be opened this year. So, what is the Nando's secret recipe for employee engagement and how is it maintained?
"The principle philosophy is creating a different kind of place to work. We wanted people to enjoy their jobs and it has been that way from the beginning," says human resources director Julia Claydon. "Our managers have the same value sets as our company, we want managers who believe that their restaurant will succeed because they look after their staff."
Employees say they love working for Nando's, giving an 80% positive score, they agree that there is a strong sense of family in their teams (81%) and not only feel that managers care about them as individuals (79%), but say they also talk openly and honestly with them (82%), all top scores.
Nine years ago Paulo Santimano Sequeira arrived from Portugal and on his third day in the UK he started working for Nando's.
"I didn't know anyone in England, I didn't know much English and even though I was a civil servant in Portugal I got a job as a cleaner. "It was a challenge but Nando's was my first job and the place where I found my first friends," he says.
Within two years, thanks to the firm's internal and external courses, Santimano Sequeira became an assistant manager of a restaurant and soon after joined the firm's central support team
where he now oversees health and safety, food safety and licensing.
Claydon says about 75% of her budget is invested in learning and development. That works out at about 45 hours of training annually per employee, at an average cost of £425. However, in Santimano Sequeira's case the support went further, with paid time off and help with tuition fees to complete a full-time business degree during weekends at Thames Valley University.
"Decisions are not always made from the top, they will listen to everyone in the company," he says. "And to have someone who will listen to what you have to say even when you are the cleaner, shows how it can motivate a person within a company."
His colleagues say they are not bored with their work, a 70% positive score. They also agree that training is a great benefit to them personally (75%), experience gained will be valuable in the future (75%) and that their jobs are good for their personal growth (79%).
Employees say that managers help them fulfil their potential, giving a 74% positive score. Also, managers share important knowledge and information (76%), they listen (73%) and motivate (76%), again all top results nationally.
Since joining Nando's eight years ago, area manager Nicola Pegues has become a mother twice with a third on the way. Maternity pay begins with six weeks at 90% and then 12 weeks at 50% and an additional 21 weeks at the statutory minimum. In addition to childcare help with vouchers, her working hours are very flexible.
"There are some meetings I have to go to, but some days I start in the afternoon, sometimes I work the weekends or extra hours. Nobody asks me how many hours I have worked, it's grown-up," Pegues says. "I can use my brain and I still have time to see my children. I don't think, in 20 years, my kids will say I didn't spend time with them."
Employees don't feel that the organisation takes advantage of them, giving it a 63% positive score, they are happy with the balance between their work and home life (70%), and don't feel work deadlines are unrealistic (73%).
Learn more about the 8 factors of workplace engagement here
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