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Human Capital Report
– Office®

IMPACT OF COVID-19 LOCKDOWN ON employees

Following the start of the national lockdown on 23 March 2020 all store employees and those in supporting field-based roles were furloughed. Head office employees in key roles were required to work from home on reduced hours and salaries, while those who were not required to work were also furloughed. The company applied for funding from the UK government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme for Ireland for all qualifying furloughed employees. Most warehouse employees continued working during lockdown to support the increased demand in online orders. Senior management took a 50% salary reduction for at least two months.

Over the past year there has been a continued focus on embedding the Group culture in the business and ensuring that the Business Philosophy is entrenched.

A key human resources focus has been on driving employee engagement by ensuring that the relevant processes are in place to effectively manage and develop employees.

Approximately one-quarter of Office’s employees are full-time employees and personal development discussions are undertaken twice a year to ensure employees continue to develop and enhance their skills and capabilities. The Truworths rating system is used across the business so that employees are familiar with the scoring system as they progress through the business. A salary benchmarking survey, aimed at ensuring Office remains competitive in the employment market, commenced in March 2020 but was not completed owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant lockdown.

Office has developed a human resources dashboard that reports on key statistics such as attrition, employee sickness absence rates and vacancies. These performance indicators provide insight into whether management’s decisions and actions are improving business performance in these areas.

While minimum wage standards are being met, employee turnover remains a concern. Exit surveys are conducted to establish the primary reasons for employees leaving.

With the planned freedom of movement in the European Union due to end and the point-based immigration system being implemented in January 2021, Office is ensuring that employees who are non-UK residents are aware of the process to apply for residency and encouraging eligible employees to apply.

Training expenditure decreased this year due to the impact of COVID-19. The Apprenticeship Levy is a UK tax on employers which can be used to fund apprenticeship training. A total of 650 employees attended internal training courses until March 2020 when the UK entered lockdown, 31 employees are also now enrolled on an apprenticeship programme.

Both internal and brand-related training is offered via an e-learning platform. Employees are able to complete compulsory training such as General Data Protection Regulation, and health and safety training via this platform, as well as brand-related sales training. A total of 1 879 employees used this platform in the past year.

During the period Office prepared the gender pay gap report for 2019 which is required in terms of the Equality Act 2010 for businesses employing more than 250 employees in Great Britain. While the results of the gender pay gap analysis compared favourably to the national and industry results, the business will continue to enhance the experience of all employees in respect of equality, diversity and inclusion. The report is not required to be published for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021 Office will continue to roll out the new programme started in 2020 to support management in people-related matters, which will include training on performance, well-being and compliance. Office continues to embed talent and succession planning to ensure the opportunity to move and promote people internally far outweighs hiring external talent.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the business, forcing management to consider and implement drastic measures to curtail expenditure in order to secure the long-term viability of Office. Accordingly management initiated a head office redundancy process in June which is scheduled to be completed by end-September 2020.