Menswear Buyer Article | May 2014


“Take off your shirt, turn over, and breath in deeply. This is going to hurt.” I’m sure I have your full attention now, dear readers. And those of you with filthy minds, put those thoughts away. MWB is a wholesome family publication.

The voice giving such forceful instructions was Liz, who is a masseuse. We pay for her to visit our Head Office once a month, and give a massage to all the staff who want one. They go into her room stressed and tense and emerge happy and relaxed. It’s still a family publication. Stop sniggering.

Liz has particular issues with my left shoulder. It is, as she so delicately puts, a wreck of tension. I’m prone to storing any stress there, and in addition, keyboard work seems to aggrevate it. Worse of all, and really disastrous news, is her conclusion that my croquet swing may be the biggest contributory factor. This has vexed me all week. I’ve tried different postures, and variations of swing, but none with any great change. Certainly, over the last few years, I have developed a tendency to miss to the left and she feels that my wrecked shoulder is to blame.

Whilst all this is depressing for me, and doubtless not eliciting much sympathy, there is a wider point here. Whenever I mention Liz and her visit to friends, they’re always amazed that I would go to such trouble for my staff. “What a great idea,” they say, “I wish my company would do that for me.”

My view is this. My staff work hard, and loyally. It’s an open jobs market, and they could all stroll out of here today and into another role tomorrow. They have chosen to work for me. The least I can do is say ‘thank you’ in a few small ways other than their pay packet. This year, we’ve introduced a staff welfare fund. Not a fortune, but enough for them all to have a few good nights out, or all go off to Chessington together. I’ve left it up to them to choose. It deliberately doesn’t involve me, or Wendy, so that can let of steam and misbehave. There’s always cake on someones birthday. Small things, but they can add up.

I think it’s easier for a company our size to do this, rather than a big business, but it’s not impossible. With a purely ‘boss’s’ hat on, it does engender more loyalty and commitment.

And they do look happy as they emerge from Liz’s cabin. I’m assuming it’s all family values in there but what if I’m wrong?

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