Last year, employee-owned John Lewis Partnership recruited more than 10,000 temporary positions across the country in a bid to meet increased demand throughout the busy festive season. At the same time, it also revealed that it would provide free food to all partners, as well as temporary staff, for three months to help its workforce with the cost of living.
Rebecca Hemsley has been head of wellbeing at the Partnership for almost a year, having held previous roles as head of transformation and partner & head of hospitality and food service delivery at the company.
How big is the HR team?
We have more than 700 partners working on HR in our team. ((Being a partnership, staff are referred to as ‘partners’)
What employee benefits are currently offered?
Partners can enjoy generous discounts at both John Lewis (up to 25% off) and Waitrose (20% off). We’ve also negotiated a huge range of discounts with brands and services to help with domestic and leisure costs. This applies across popular restaurants, theme parks and travel/holiday companies, and even into household utilities and financial services.
In addition, we’re proud to have a range of Partnership Hotels across the country – including Brownsea Castle, on Brownsea Island off the coast of Poole – available for rental exclusive by partners.
Elsewhere, we have a network of 24 clubs and societies – from the sailing, horse riding and motorbiking clubs, through to theatre, photography and wine – which are free to join and offer fantastic, and often discounted, activities. To take the sailing club as an example, the partnership has our own boats, which members can use.
As well as offering discounted tickets to theatre and live music events via our partners, we have suites at The O2 London, and Wembley Arena, with tickets available to the workforce. We also offer all partners a £60-a-year ticket subsidy, so they can claim back the cost of attending live events.
Both partners and our customers can also benefit from exclusive savings and discounts via our MyWaitrose and My John Lewis loyalty schemes. In terms of health and wellbeing, we have a dedicated team of occupational health experts and a Partnership Doctor, to support our people.
We additionally offer a generous pension. Partners can decide how much they want to pay in, and the Partnership will match that, up to 8%. After three years’ service the Partnership will contribute an additional 4%.
We’re also incredibly proud to offer equal parenthood leave. Introduced in November 2021, this gives all new parents 26 weeks of paid leave (14 weeks at full contractual pay and 12 weeks at 50% contractual pay).
How do you communicate your benefits offering?
Our partners can read about benefits available to them via our internal site, Partner Choice, as well as our own Partner Intranet.
How are you supporting your people with the cost-of-living crisis?
We’re providing all our partners with a £500 one-off cost-of-living payment – prorated for part-time partners– alongside an increase in entry-level pay rates, which will benefit around 70% of our workforce. For context, this put us among the highest paying supermarkets for entry-level roles.
We also provided free meals to all on-duty workers and seasonal staff until 6 January, and we’ve doubled our Financial Assistance Fund, which provides both loans and grants to help those who are facing particular difficulties.
How often do you review your employee benefits offering to ensure it stays relevant?
We continually review our benefits/policies and we’re always open for feedback about ways to improve what we offer, and what we can provide more of. We have a number of mechanisms partners share their views with us and this is important for ensuring benefit relevance.
What HR benefit/policy makes you stand out as an employer of choice?
We have a number of benefits that are unique to the John Lewis Partnership, such as our hotels and leisure facilities. Our equal parenthood leave, introduced in November 2021, gives all new parents 26 weeks’ paid leave (14 weeks at full contractual pay and 12 weeks at 50% contractual pay).