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John Lewis offers its ‘Better Jobs’ programme to all UK suppliers


Retail group John Lewis and Partners has announced that, following a successful trial, it is rolling out its new progressive supplier engagement programme called ‘Better Jobs’ to all of its 120 UK manufacturing suppliers.

The purpose of the Better Jobs initiative, which is free to suppliers and replaces traditional ethical audits, is to create more rewarding and enriching jobs for the people who make John Lewis own-brand products, explained the brand in a statement, and has been based upon a key principle which the retail group was founded upon: “the purpose of the business is the happiness of all partners through their worthwhile and satisfying employment in a successful business”.

The initiative has been created in conjunction with a group of suppliers, as well as an advisory group consisting of representatives from The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Institute of Employment Studies, and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and features a framework which helps suppliers think about the ways they support, engage and reward their employees, alongside an employee survey.

The framework has seven themes - voicing opinion, progression, reward, security, job design, respect and health and wellbeing. While the anonymous, employee survey consists of questions from an annual survey which the retail group asks its own employees, as well as some from the CIPD ‘World of Work’ survey, and covers all seven Better Jobs framework themes.

Following the survey an action plan is then created with support from relevant John Lewis experts, and managers are given access to a custom-built portal with resources to aid them in delivering their plan.

The suppliers invited to take part have a “long-standing relationship” with John Lewis, the department store added, and have already undergone “forensic style audits” to confirm that they comply with laws on employment and human rights, and health and safety.

Nadia Youds, social impact manager at John Lewis, said: “The Better Jobs Programme was set up following discussions with suppliers about how the Partnership could support them with the challenges they face such as recruiting skilled people, future-proofing their industry and being more innovative.

“We wanted to support them to go beyond just meeting the law through ‘tick box’ audits which suppliers said they found restrictive, and to deepen our relationship with our suppliers and share some of our resources with them. So, we created the Better Jobs Programme which assesses continuous improvements that have a positive impact on their employees' experience of being at work.”

The retailer has stated that findings from the first year of the programme featuring 23 UK suppliers and 800 of their employees found that more than 70 percent of employees feeling that they could voice their opinion, while the majority feel their employer supports their wellbeing.

Other key findings in the report added that more than 80 percent of suppliers have development plans in place for their employees but this needs to be offered to a more broad and diverse range of employees, and almost 90 percent added that they have influence over how they do their work.

Following the success in the UK, John Lewis also added that it will begin to trial the programme with 15 suppliers in China using a mobile app to communicate directly with suppliers’ employees.