Patricia Wheway could map the aisles of her local Tesco in her sleep. Having walked miles scanning shelves for products that would not aggravate the food allergies of her son George, she thought the supermarket could do a lot more.
Now, a year after she wrote to the chief executive, Sir Terry Leahy, as a frustrated customer with a good idea, she is on staff and in charge of a “free from” range of products for people following a gluten-free diet. “I was delighted to be offered this opportunity, and with the support I have received from all areas of the business,” she says. “I know how difficult it can be to find alternative foods that are good to eat.”
Britain’s largest supermarket chain has sales of more than £20 billion and, with more than 210,000 employees, is the largest private-sector employer in the UK.
Keeping this “family” happy and motivated is a major operation but the supermarket chain has jumped up from No 100 in last year’s survey with the help of an open, charitable culture and generous benefits.
All but one of the board have worked their way up through the ranks — and they all regularly spend a week back on the shop floor to remind them of what customers want.
Nearly four out of five employees praise their benefits. In 2001 the sharesave scheme distributed £123m, and half of staff have joined the plan, which discounts stock by 20%. Last year everyone with more than a year’s service had a profit-related bonus of 3.6% of pay and this year staff with a year’s work under their belt will receive shares. There are long-service awards of up to £500 plus up to £300 for a meal out after 40 years.
Everyone has life insurance, boosted to three times salary if they join the contributory pension scheme (where the firm puts in up to 10.8% of salary and staff put in 4%).
There is a charitable flavour too: the firm gives just over 1% of pre-tax profits to good causes and there was a special newsletter to publicise the efforts of 17,000 people who ran the Race for Life for Cancer Research UK. Last year Tesco raised about £2m for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, and its 11-year-old Computers for Schools campaign has put equipment worth £77m into 24,000 schools.
Together with a 10% discount card, it is another incentive for staff to take one more trip up the aisles to stack their own trolleys.
Number of Staff:
Male to Female ratio:
Under 35 to Over 55 Ratio: