Many companies claim to treat their employees as family. It’s a nice concept, but – as many employees will tell you – one that often falls short of the mark.
At Whitworth Chemists, however, managing director Jay Badenhorst (pictured below) has been eager to ensure that the company’s strapline “Your family pharmacy” is far more than just empty words. The chain aims to celebrate its 285 employees as individuals and coax them through difficult times with tailored support. Strong ties between employees at different branches are encouraged, and every year the entire Whitworth workforce gets together for the company’s annual conference.
Above all, Whitworth works hard to ensure that each and every member of staff is made to feel like a valued part of the team. This just one of the many reasons its employees voted it the second best pharmacy company to work for in this year’s C+D Best Places to Work initiative. So how does Whitworth manage to offer what so many companies claim, but often fail, to deliver?
The secret to a happy home life is often attributed to a positive attitude and Mr Badenhorst is keen to stress that the same is often true at work. Politeness, friendliness and professionalism are some of the key values he prizes. These are the characteristics that Mr Badenhorst aims to “live by” himself, and the ones he looks out for when recruiting staff.
It is clear that Mr Badenhorst is keen to instil family values throughout the company. Honesty is encouraged at all times: Mr Badenhorst stresses it is of “the utmost importance” for management to be truthful, even if it is not what the staff want to hear.
And Mr Badenhorst is keen to ensure staff feel valued by listening to them. This means reassuring employees that you are taking action to improve their situation, rather than just offering “empty words”.
This compassionate attitude isn’t confined to the workplace. Mr Badenhorst explains that the company has gone “out of our way to support” staff through difficult personal situations including relocations, bereavement and poor health. “[Its support] really is bespoke to every team member,” Mr Badenhorst stresses.
“We go out of our way to support [staff] … It really is bespoke to every team member”
Respecting the differences
This attitude has clearly been noted among branch-level employees. Out of all five companies that took part in C+D Best Place to Work 2015, Whitworth was voted top for relationships with supervisors.
Pharmacy technician Balkees Khanam, who has been working at Whitworth’s branch in Nelson, Lancashire for 25 years, can confirm the positive atmosphere. The pharmacy was under different ownership when she started, and she noticed a marked change when Whitworth took over 13 years ago. She was understandably “a bit apprehensive” about the takeover, but stresses that her fears were put to rest when she was interviewed by the new Whitworth management, who were “brilliant” and made the transition “smooth”.
Ms Khanam is clear that Whitworth has managed to keep staff happy in the long term, too. She says the pharmacy has improved in the years it has been under Whitworth management – not least because the company respects each branch’s individual sense of identity, which she stresses makes all the difference to staff and patients alike.
While Whitworth clearly takes its responsibility to its staff very seriously, it also puts a strong emphasis on having fun. The company’s annual conference is not only a time for staff to boost their CPD, but a time to let their hair down.
Staff are encouraged to celebrate their good work through the company awards – an event that always proves popular. “The amount of entries I’ve had this year is amazing,” says Mr Badenhorst. “All of that [recognition] makes them feel that they’re working for a good place.”
Arguably, it is the emphasis the management puts on celebrating the success of its employees that marks Whitworth out at an excellent place to work. As Ms Khanam says: “We work together as a team. It’s like a home away from home.”