Gary Conroy, Founding Director of 5 Squirrels Ltd, shares his reasons for paying more than the Living Wage to staff and how this benefits his business.
I had often visited Brighton for weekend breaks and really enjoyed the sense of community and feeling of a progressive society the city had to offer as well as of course the beach! So, when I decided to set up 5 Squirrels the decision was quite easy to move and base the company here. I knew there was a wealth of talent from the city’s colleges and universities as well as a great network and support for start-up companies.
When we started trading funds were extremely tight but it became apparent quickly how little an individual could live on, but there is a threshold to which income impacts quality of life, peace of mind and general well-being. Having previously having held relatively high income positions it did beg the question, how do people manage on the governments ‘minimum wage’ especially in a relatively expensive city, like Brighton.
When 5 Squirrels started to grow, and expand to require employee support we felt that new people joining us should be recruited both on skill set but also loyalty, after all there is still a lot of risk in an early stage company, so if individuals were willing to take a risk and come on our journey with us, then they should share equally in the reward. So, we set our internal living wage at £10 as a minimum for all employees, wither they be interns, temporary, part time or permanent full-time members of the team.
This of course increases employee engagement but much more than that, everyone in the team takes pride and is fully engaged to ensure the company is successful and on a tactical level every task is completed to a high standard to ensure customers are delighted and continue to trade with us.
In the new tax year and due to the performance of the team our new internal living wage will increase to £11 per hour so that everyone continues to share the rewards of success.
As part of our growth strategy we have been supported greatly by Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce, Coast to Capital growth fund, Entrepreneurial Spark and its partners NatWest and KPMG so it is appropriate that we pay this support forward by recruiting from the local community’s talent pool. We have worked closely with local initiatives Recruit Ability and the universities who have helped us find dedicated, talented individuals without whom we probably would have not seen such growth.
Even though funds are tight in most companies and even more so in start-ups, the Living Wage initiative for us has created a team ownership culture which hopefully contributes in some small way to the culture of progression and fairness we are all trying to create in Brighton!
Thanks to Gary for writing this blog for our website. 5 Squirrels create skincare products that you can brand as your own, find out more about them on their website www.5squirrels.com.