Careers Shop Wickes

18 January 2024: Wickes, the UK’s home improvement retailer has announced that it is making all store management roles open to flexible working. Following a six month pilot across 14 stores, Wickes has now launched this across its 230 stores nationwide.

Wickes partnered with Timewise to undertake research on the roles of store managers, operations managers and duty managers to understand the barriers to flexible working and to design, trial and evaluate a flexible working model that supported managers to deliver their roles with greater flexibility, input and control over their working patterns.

During the trial some managers opted to change their working patterns to work four longer days in-store, whilst others chose to flex their hours across the week in a way that better suited their lives.

The results from the pilot demonstrated that there was no negative impact on store performance or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and 96.5% of store managers taking part in the pilot were either ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their working hours at the end of the pilot (up from 66.5% pre-pilot).

Sonia Astill, Chief People Officer at Wickes comments: “We are delighted to be giving the opportunity for our store management teams to explore flexible working options and busting the myth that managers in retail operations need to be on-site at all hours of the day. We have demonstrated that this just isn’t the case and that being open-minded about flexible working patterns can deliver significant benefits to both the company and colleagues.

“At Wickes we want our colleagues to feel at home and feel supported to be their authentic selves at work. Key to achieving this is a healthy work-life balance, allowing people to switch off from work and spend more time with friends and family. It is also a win-win for the business leading to higher levels of engagement, reduced turnover and the ability to attract and retain diverse talent. Ultimately, happy colleagues lead to happy customers and better overall company performance.”

Amy Butterworth, Consultancy Director at Timewise says: “The UK has approximately 8 million shift-based workers, and they want to be included in the flexible working revolution. In roles based at a particular location – a busy store, a hospital ward, a factory floor - the best way to make that happen, is by offering greater input into the schedule and more say in terms of working pattern, exactly as Wickes are doing.”

Gav Harrison Regional Leader, Wickes comments: “My team has experienced and led amazing results in working flexibly! Giving our store leadership teams greater flexibility over their working patterns has created a work life balance that supports the needs of their working time, and time for other aspects of their personal or family life. We have learned that how people work or want to work is very unique and personal to them and enabling cultural flexibility, has removed barriers and given all colleagues the opportunity to contribute and develop to their fullest potential.”

Feedback from store managers who took part in the trial:

Mark Reynolds is Store Manager of Wickes in Tottenham: “Before the trial I was probably doing five long days in the store. I remember having my review. I’d just won Store Manager of the Year, but my home life wasn’t great. My daughter was 3.5 years and my other was newborn.”

“I’m a self-confessed workaholic, and put in all the hours I can. But I had started to realise that a change was needed. I wasn’t getting any time at home with my wife. She was getting no support from me and I had started to drift from my friends, who always get together on weekends, when I used to be working.”

“At first, I felt a lot of guilt and responsibility. But gradually I realised that it was just about setting a new norm. Getting the processes in place was not easy, but once you get there it’s a different way to live and work. A better one. I’ve developed a new phrase: happy home life, happy work life. I am a happier me.”

Tanya Tozer works in the Wickes Worksop store. She has three children and her middle daughter has a rare genetic condition which requires a lot of support at home. Commenting on the trial Tanya says: “I didn’t think I needed to change my working pattern, but on reflection, I needed the respite more than I let on, more probably than even I realised I needed it. I had been struggling with my mental health.”

Tanya says the change to her working pattern has changed her life: “Now, I can go to the gym, I can do some crafting. I have always had Tuesdays off, as these tend to be hospital days. But having Fridays off is really making a difference in my life. The girls are in school. It is my day for me.”

And it has also helped Tanya’s team: “I think it’s had a really positive impact on the team. It has helped everyone feel more accountable. I’ve had to strengthen some of my weaker areas; build in more planning and more structure. I’ve also had to delegate more and it has been great to see the team step up to the challenge and grow.”

Wickes are rolling out their flexible working programme as part of Timewise’s wider Flexible Working for All action research programme, supported by Impact on Urban Health, with Guys’ and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and Sir Robert McAlpine also taking part. The Flexible Working for All action research programme aims to show the impact of embedding good quality flexible working for all on both employees and organisations.

About Wickes

Wickes is a digitally led, service-enabled home improvement retailer. With an extensive range of products and DIY brands, a Kitchen & Bathroom design and installation service and a bespoke loyalty scheme for local trade, Wickes is the perfect partner to help with both small and large-scale projects. With 230 stores across the UK and an extended range online, it has everything customers need, whether an amateur DIY-er or trade professional.

About Timewise

Timewise are the UK’s flexible working experts. A 17 year-old social enterprise, it comprises an experienced team of consultants who advise employers on job design, and an innovation unit that produces leading research on the UK labour market. Specialists in large, complex workforces and particularly in shift-based roles, Timewise aims to build stronger workplaces where good flexible working is available to everyone.