High street retailer Oliver Bonas introduced the Living Wage in September 2015. In the following six months staff retention increased, there was a small decline in sickness and absence rates and it has been easier to attract good quality employees. The move has also improved the company brand among customers leading to increased sales.
The decision to pay the Living Wage was not immediate. The business undertook a pay review that looked at a whole range of different scenarios. A project team was put together which included the human resources, operations and finance departments. As part of the assessment, the team looked at how much it would cost and which of its employees it would affect. Crucially, the team also assessed how it would affect other roles in the business, because of the need for pay differentiation.
- Two thirds of Oliver Bonas’ employees were directly affected by the move to Living Wage.
- In the six months after introducing the Living Wage, staff retention increased and there was a small decline in sickness and absence rates.
- It has been easier to attract good quality employees who want to stay with the business for longer.
- The business has seen sales increase over the period, and there is a clear sense that the Living Wage has improved the company brand and that some customers have noticed the decision and are “making that conscious choice to spend its money in a store where employees are being looked after.”
“It definitely makes it a more appealing company. It’s a fantastic company to work for anyway, the people are great, but I do think the part-timers and for students, those people who are trying to make ends meet it’s definitely more encouraging. The jump for the part-timers was something like £2 an hour so it’s a massive incentive. I think people are more likely to stay. We saw that after we went living wage…. We’ve had [customers] say that it’s really fantastic and I do think that people react to it and they see it as a more ethical way of shopping if they know we’re being treated right it makes them feel better about putting its money into that business.”
Full-Time Team Member, Oliver Bonas
Part-Time Team Member, Oliver Bonas
The investment in employees, combined with strong business growth, has provided an opportunity to look at wider operational issues including improvements to recruitment, scheduling, store staffing structures and training. The Living Wage is a good opportunity to make wider business improvements, and Oliver Bonas stress the importance of looking at these issues early on in the process.