10 December 2015

Announcing a rise in profits and turnover should be something that the press celebrate but, when you’re also exposed for not paying the minimum wage to your team, bragging about financial success is guaranteed to land you in hot water.sportsdirect

This was the case for Sports Direct this week.

The minimum and living wages are hot topics in the media at the moment, and quite rightly so. It is something that I will be speaking about on ITV tonight.

According to the Guardian, Sports Direct’s policy of extra, unpaid time for ‘rigorous’ compulsory searches, taking around 15 minutes, meant that their employees are paid less than the minimum wage – not the living wage, the minimum wage.

The firm’s warehouse in Shirebrook is, according to the Guardian report, known locally as ‘the gulag’. Teams walk around 20 miles a day around the premises and are hurried along by a tannoy, by name.

The company disputes the Guardian’s reports and its statement claims that 80% of staff are on zero-hour contracts, but regardless of the final outcome, while the claims are being investigated, the brand’s reputation is, without a doubt, taking a hit. According to the BBC, so are their shares, which fell by 10% earlier today.

As an entrepreneur, the top priority when running a business should be fairly compensating the team for the work that they do. Whilst I firmly believe that money is not the best motivation for people, it certainly makes a huge impact on their lives at this level.

Also, compulsory, rigorous searches cannot be healthy for morale within the company. Imagine being searched on your way out of the workplace? I cannot bear to think of that being a possibility here at UKFast. On the one hand, yes, you do need to manage the risk of theft but how can you build a strong company culture and a happy, motivated, efficient team if you cannot trust them not to steal from the business?

It is incredibly sad.

Although I would never condone theft, perhaps paying a fairer wage would remove the need for these searches as employees wouldn’t feel disgruntled enough to consider stealing in the first place?

You’re nothing without the team around you. You have to invest in them, not just with money, but with your time and energy.

This week we’re in the middle of a packed events calendar with which I am thanking the UKFast team. From our incredible Christmas Party at the weekend to next week’s Star Wars premiere; they work exceptionally hard and I want to reward them for that. The least that huge national firms like Sports Direct should be doing is paying a fair wage – especially when announcing flat revenue with pre-tax profits growth of 25% to £187m from the six months to October!

I hope to see more positive news in the coming months of the brand rewarding its team and creating a positive workplace in which people can grow and feel properly compensated.

What do you think?

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