Dee Smith of Pladis has revealed how McVities make continuous investments into employee satisfaction, focusing on health and wellbeing to create a positive working environment.
The workplace culture is all about community work and ensuring staff are happy, which McVities say helps them keep a strong reputation as an employer.
Last year, the McVities factory celebrated 100 years of operation. This is a huge milestone, and contributes to the fact that it is one of the most iconic food production sites across the UK. People with food jobs at the site are mostly working on the digestives range, as well as Jaffa Cakes, and the chocolate which is used for all Pladis biscuit factories in the country.
Pladis itself is a new name: it was only set up back in 2016 by Yildiz Holding to serve as an umbrella company for a number of UK brands. Dee Smith has personally remained with the Pladis brand – under its various previous incarnations – for most of her working life, and is therefore well placed to serve as a spokesperson for the way that they do business.
There are four main shift teams which help the factory to run around the clock, and each of them has developed their own personal culture. However, the teams do work together on occasion in order to further continuous improvement projects. One team, for example, was set up with members of each shift to help improve the variation of the weight of digestives being produced on a particular line.
Smith believes that it would be difficult to bring projects like this one to success if it wasn’t for the fact that staff members are made to feel like part of a real team. The Pladis motto is “we promise happiness to the world with every bite”. The management feel that this should also include their employees.
Respect and service
There is a healthy degree of respect given towards employees, with a number of initiatives in place which demonstrate this easily. They hold long-service dinners as well as star awards, to celebrate members of staff who have been around the longest and done the hardest work.
They also have a learning centre which is run by unions, and which will certainly be a big pull during food recruitment drives thanks to the huge opportunities it affords to staff members. Employees are able to develop their literacy and numeracy skills, for example – perfect for anyone who felt left behind at school. But the lessons don’t even have to be work-orientated. Staff can learn to play the guitar, or pick up a new language, if they want to.
Pladis also recently signed up to the Time to Change mental health campaign. This is centred around the destigmatisation of mental health problems, as well as the introduction of support systems for team members who need them. There are now 19 mental health ambassadors amongst the employees at the McVities site, whose role is to look out for signs of problems and point those at risk in the direction of help. There is an additional free online GP service for those who may require it.
Other company initiatives include a special celebration day called ‘Pladis Make Happy, Be Happy Day’ in which members of the community are surprised with gifts, family fun days, Christmas lights switch-ons, school workshops, placements for school leaders, and more.
On top of this, they run attractive graduate and apprenticeship schemes which are designed to attract engineers, team managers, and operators. They have won a number of awards for their various initiatives, all of which are geared towards a happy workforce.