Our Living Wage journey started long before sprigg was trading; it’s in the business plan I used to raise initial funding!
I originally committed to pay our staff £8.45 an hour, the real Living Wage at the time. However, when we launched, I opted to pay the current rate of £8.75 an hour (don’t tell the bank!). At this point, the minimum wage for a 20 year old was £5.90 an hour, which is really hard to believe.
Committing to the real Living Wage ahead of trading, with no idea if the business idea would survive, is one of my proudest achievements, both as an individual and a business. We not only survived our first year of trading but increased our pay to a minimum of £9 an hour, in line with the real Living Wage review of November 2018.
Our 14 month journey (and counting) has been a whirlwind, however upon reflection, I can’t imagine sprigg as a business which doesn’t pay the real Living Wage. Whilst it isn’t something I or the staff think about on a daily basis, it clearly surrounds everything we do. It’s a quantifiable commitment from me, to my team, that I can’t hide from.
I often consider how lucky I have been with the 11 staff I now have, however perhaps it isn’t all luck. Perhaps my commitment to paying the real Living Wage, and in turn my commitment to them as individuals has been more significant than I hoped. Luck or otherwise, I love my team and I owe them all the credit. They are incredibly dedicated, hard working and engaging.
Whilst culture change in existing business is possible, instilling the correct culture from the outset and embedding it within the DNA of the business is far easier, in my opinion. Amy, 23, now our Manager, has been with us from the outset and has grown with the business. She embodies everything I hoped to achieve for the staff, commenting that ‘sprigg is an incredible work environment that isn’t found in many workplaces, the success of sprigg definitely stems from how you look after the team’.
There is so much more to looking after your staff than simply paying a fair hourly rate, you have to be supportive and you need to listen to them; you can’t get it right all of the time, and both the business and I as an individual, have an incredible amount still to learn. You do, however, need to start somewhere and what better way than to anchor yourself to the simple commitment of paying a fair rate of pay? It’s not a cost, it’s an asset, and right now in the real-Living-Wage-shy hospitality industry, it’s our advantage.