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What makes Woodie’s a great place to work?

Sharon Kelly, Woodie’s HR director, talks about the company’s Great Place to Work Journey and gives some insight into a culture beyond the shop floor that may surprise you

seeds

Woodie's Seeds for Success program gives colleagues the opportunity to achieve a level 6 qualification on the national framework

 

Woodie’s started our Great Place to Work journey in 2014 following the arrival of our new Leadership Team. At the time, only 39 per cent of colleagues in the business were engaged and colleagues had very low trust with the company. Since our first GPTW survey, we have been relentless in our focus on becoming the type of employer where our colleagues can be themselves, fulfil their potential and trust that the company is heading in the right direction. On average 98 per cent of our colleagues complete our engagement survey each year, which gives us a great steer on where to focus our people agenda.

To improve our colleague experience, one of the first areas we focused on was the leadership style within the business, moving from a top-down structure to a more approachable style of leadership where coaching and developing our teams in a supportive manner is hugely important to us. To achieve this, we have invested significantly in leadership skills and all our people managers have completed our eXcellerate leadership development program. 

The Woodie's training calendar has kicked off with a mobile classroom touring the country to deliver product and customer service training to almost 1,000 colleagues each year
The Woodie’s mobile classroom toured the country in 2019 delivering product and customer service training to over 1,000 colleagues

For our colleagues to feel confident in their roles and to be ready to develop into future roles we have a comprehensive training plan that the L&D team have created in collaboration with the wider business. Over the past three years our training calendar has kicked off with a mobile classroom touring the country to deliver product and customer service training to almost 1,000 colleagues each year. In 2019 the roadshow became a virtual reality plumbing training environment. After the roadshow we head into our spring show where almost 400 colleagues attend a trade-show style event to receive training from our suppliers. This is replicated later in the year with our autumn show. 

Upskilling

Throughout the year, we run over 20 different programs to upskill colleagues in the areas of product knowledge, IT skills, project management, communications, health and safety and to prepare for progression into other roles in our business.  

In store, we deliver our Seeds for Success programme which gives colleagues the opportunity to achieve a level 6 qualification on the national framework. In addition, our Retail Degree and Apprenticeship programmess provide colleagues the opportunity to achieve third-level qualifications. 

On the communication front, we have introduced top-down and bottom-up communications structures within the business to ensure the voice of our colleagues is heard and that key information is readily available to all colleagues. Each year starts with our communications day for managers, where strategy for the year ahead is shared by the leadership team and feedback is welcomed. Our weekly trading pack keeps all colleagues up to speed on what is happening in the business, while our quarterly magazine, Woodie’s Whispers, takes a more personal focus. Initiatives like our weekly feedback, leadership team roadshows and colleague committee provide colleagues with the opportunity to freely share their thoughts on where we can improve the business for our customers and colleagues. The ability to communicate across the business is further enhanced by Woodie’s Workvivo, an app and web-based communications and recognition tool which has high adoption amongst our colleagues. 

We have fostered a culture of ‘catching people doing the right thing and recognizing it’. Workvivo enables colleagues and managers to instantly share and appreciate examples of colleague’s exceptional work across the business. 

Sense of pride

Woodie's Heroes, an annual one-month campaign, has raised over €1.55m for children’s charities over the past five years
Woodie's Heroes, an annual one-month campaign, has raised over €1.55m for children’s charities over the past five years

Our annual 'Woscars' ceremony reinforces this culture of recognition and a Woscar is a highly coveted achievement at Woodie’s. The nomination and selection process begins in August and culminates in a gala awards ceremony, in Croke Park, with almost 400 colleagues in attendance. When Woscars season kicks off, it is amazing to see the sheer sense of pride as longlists, shortlists and winners are announced over a two-month period.

In our first engagement survey, colleagues told us that we could be doing more when it came to CSR. Taking this feedback on board, we introduced Woodie’s Heroes in 2015. Heroes is an annual one-month campaign which has raised over €1.55m for children’s charities over the past five years. The campaign is colleague-driven and it is wonderful to see all the wacky and creative ideas our teams come up with to raise money each July for these worthy charities.

While this is just a snapshot of some aspects of our culture that we’re really proud of, there is countless other areas I could talk about! We are constantly striving towards being a world-class employer of choice and that’s no different for 2020 which will see a big emphasis on diversity and inclusion (D&I), innovation and wellness in our people plans. 

On the D&I front, our colleagues score us quite highly in regards to inclusion. 92 per cent of colleagues feel that they can be themselves at Woodie’s, while 97 per cent of colleagues feel they are treated fairly regardless of ethnicity or sexual orientation. It’s great to see that our culture is so open and welcoming to people from all walks of life.

49 per cent of our colleagues are female and a key focus this year is to see this balance at a company level translate into more females in senior roles within our business

When it comes to gender diversity, 49 per cent of our colleagues are female and a key focus this year is to see this balance at a company level translate into more females in senior roles within our business.  

Innovation is something Woodie's is excited about this year and we have plans to partner with world-class companies to upskill our teams on Digital Leadership & Innovation to ensure the business continues to be sustainable as the face of retailing changes. 

If you’re a follower of Woodie’s on LinkedIn, this year you’ll see a lot of activity when it comes to our wellness plans. Focusing on our four M’s (meals and nutrition, money, mood and movement) we will support colleagues to be as healthy and happy as possible. It is something the market and our colleagues expect of a business of our scale and also an interesting next step on our people journey. Colleagues can expect to see a dozen new initiatives from “quit smoking” to our WW partnership, and much more, as our focus shifts to become not just a Great Place to Work…but also a 'Healthy Place to Work'.


Check-out www.woodies.ie/careers for opportunities to join the Woodie’s team