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Why we invested so much time in enriching the employee experience and staff development when expanding globally

Without doubt, we wouldn’t have been able to strive towards these results without the right people behind us and one of the key reasons for our success was identifying, recruiting, nurturing and developing them.

Ramsden International is one of the UK’s leading international grocery wholesalers, exporting more than 23,000 British food and drink products to over 600 customers in more than 130 countries across six continents.

It evolution has seen us go from my running the business on my own, to employing nearly 100 people and sales close to £58m.

Without doubt, we wouldn’t have been able to strive towards these results without the right people behind us and one of the key reasons for our success was identifying, recruiting, nurturing and developing them.

This applies to both staff both at home and in our five overseas offices – nearly 20% of our workforce is made up of people who were born outside the UK. This international human resource brings with it a multitude of skills and additional benefits, such as being on the ground in advancing markets such as Sydney, Dubai and Hong Kong and speaking the local language.

With this diversity comes many cultural considerations and we work hard to bring intercontinental offices together. Examples of this include celebrating international holidays, such as Chinese New Year and we are in step with multi-cultural events and holidays in the many territories we operate in.

We keep a close eye on the expectations of the modern worker. Believing that attending to the health and wellbeing of employees is important to any company’s achievements, we are one of the 40% who have a health and wellbeing plan in place to meet this requirement. We also provide a monthly contribution towards gym membership and benchmark the benefits and perks our employees receive in comparison to other local companies and sectors.

We know that approximately a third of a person’s life is spent at work and ensure that this time is as fulfilling as it can be. Employees’ contributions are celebrated in Employee of the Quarter and Employer the Year awards with winners having access to senior management as per of their development.

Grimsby isn’t a town that’s known for its convenient geographical location. Due to the region’s traditional reliance on low-skilled industries, there is also a limited pool of ‘service industry’ talent. I won’t pretend it was easy to recruit the multi-lingual talent we need to deliver the high quality of service we aspired to.

Nevertheless, we took the time to identify the skills and potential that was either there or could be tempted to relocate and successfully built an accomplished team of highly motivated individuals. Indeed, we now regularly attract graduates from across the UK, who are interested in relocating here to boost our team.

We believe our people are our greatest asset and encourage employee progress and achievements by offering tailored personal development plans to everyone. These include cross-functional moves, so staff can learn about other areas of the business and broaden their perspective.

Through our ongoing employee support, we continue to grow our skills base and quality of offering. I take the lead in driving a positive culture, which in turn injects motivation, by working hard to improve my own capabilities and knowledge as I develop my career. Attending a new executive course every year, gaining fresh skills, self-motivation and contacts, also allows me to cascade cutting edge knowledge and insights to the rest of the business.

Our approach has paid dividends, including minimal absenteeism rates and highly committed employees. One staff member is still happily working within Ramsden International, 29 years ago (meaning he has been here longer than I have!)

All of this has contributed enormously to our reputation as an organisation that delivers exceptional levels of customer service and stands true to our motto that, ‘Together, we are world class’.

I know that my business wouldn’t be here today without the drive and commitment of my amazing employees. I involve my entire team – from Dubai, Hong Kong, Toronto, Singapore, Sydney and Grimsby – in decision-making through internal workshops and employee engagement sessions and success is always recognised

It is vital for every entrepreneur to have a strong, dedicated team behind them and we offer our people powerful reasons to stay in-house rather than move elsewhere. These demonstrate to staff that their employer is prepared to invest in their future in the workplace and has a stake in the progress and personal outcomes of each of them.

Sean Ramsden – CEO – Ramsden International

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