We also gave everyone a 10 per cent pay rise (or more if 10 per cent didn’t bump them past £25,000) and paid £5,000 to every employee – apportioned for their time in the business in 2020.
Why? Well, because we could afford it and it felt like the right thing to do.
I’d love to share the financial analysis that demonstrates this move will in fact have a positive return through increased staff retention and productivity but unfortunately, I can’t because we didn’t waste our time calculating any of that. The decision was simply about paying the best wage we could afford and recognising that our success is only possible with the hard work and talent of our people, who rolled up their sleeves and powered through everything that was thrown at them in the past year.
We’re keenly aware how fortunate we are to have flourished in a year that has been so brutally difficult for many. We’ve always placed a huge emphasis on our people and culture, but against this backdrop, we’ve witnessed a renewed consideration of how society apportions value in the workforce.
The vital importance of those who keep the lights on and hearts beating (literally and metaphorically) has never been more apparent. While the national outpouring of thanks may clearly identify our most treasured key workers, an analysis of financial reward would not lead us to the same conclusion. Unfortunately, doorstep claps and rattled pots and pans – however heartfelt – do not pay the bills.
At Ooni, we sell pizza ovens. They’re pretty great but it would be a stretch to claim they’re saving lives or keeping our fragile national supply chains running. However, we can at least claim to have played a part in one noble cause this past year; in creating good jobs and providing a secure working environment through a time of uncertainty.
Since March 2020, our team has grown from 50 to 131 to cope with increased demand. Our responsibility and privilege as an employer is absolutely core to our being – as valuable and guiding as any mission statement. Striving to be a kind, fair and responsible employer is not a means to promote growth or improve performance. For us, providing security, happiness and fulfilment through employment is an end in itself.
By raising our minimum wage by £6,000 and focusing on fair recognition of the workers who make our success possible, we’ve already heard from team members who’ve finally been able to buy their own property and escape the cycle of rent. Or who can now upgrade their car to one in which they feel safe enough to bring their newborn baby home from the hospital.
So, whatever the statistics and analysis may eventually show, we already know it was the right decision - and one we’re really proud of.