Pret A Manger: It’s A Wrap When It Comes To Creating Safer Working Environments

Posted: 9 Jul, 2024.

Pret A Manger, a high street staple, stands out not only for its fresh handmade food but also for its commitment to social responsibility. Since 1996, The Pret Foundation has been addressing food waste and homelessness, highlighting the brand’s compassionate corporate ethos. This responsibility extends to its people development and safety strategy, reflected in the charities it supports through the Foundation and its dedicated care for colleagues.

Prioritising Colleague Safety

Day-to-day, it is the job of Mark Wood, UK security and standards manager at Pret, to help keep colleagues safe. It is these colleagues who service the UK’s 450 owned and franchised shops on the high street and at transport locations including all of the major airports.

“Safety of staff is a top-down agenda item—it is part of the values of the business,” said Mark who sits within the people team in the UK. Mark’s role is the physical security of the business and its people and premises.

“We believe that happy teams mean happy customers,” said Mark who has worked for Pret for almost two decades.

Long-Term Safety Solutions

Getting it right in terms of the right safety tool kit is not a quick fix but a sustainable long-term approach.

“It’s a journey that involves reviewing policies, carrying out extensive risk assessments and training in areas such as conflict management both as e-learning modules and face-to-face. It is only then that we look at what strategies and technologies will best support our people and our business.”

Mark is always looking for ways to give colleagues more reassurance, including investing in new technologies that will work for the Pret business.

“The solutions have to be scalable because some of our venues are tiny while many have a much larger shop footprint.”

Partnership with Peoplesafe

Attending the ORIS Forums Risk Summit in Stratford-upon-Avon in May 2023, Mark was introduced to John Seddon, senior business development manager at people protection specialists Peoplesafe.

A year on from that conversation, all equity shops have access to Peoplesafe’s lanyard-based portable personal safety technology, which allows colleagues to activate an audio recording device to capture and de-escalate incidents in the shops. Pressing the button activates an alarm at Peoplesafe’s 24-hour alarm receiving centre (ARC) which listens in and then triages the call including dialling 999 when necessary.

Positive Impact

“It’s easy-to use—store colleagues simply wear the lanyards and activate them in line with their training when they need to. That alerts Peoplsafe’s ARC who can listen in,” said Mark.

“There is no IT integration or involvement and I get access to all of the audio for evidence purposes simply at the push of a button via the online Nexus management platform.

“Its introduction has had a positive impact across the business.”

Each shop has two devices, one with the manager and another at the counter. With 10,000 colleagues, the devices complement the other conflict management training that all colleagues go through as part of their induction. Mark added:

“The feedback we have had back from our team about the Peoplesafe device is that it is easy-to-use and it gives the team reassurance that there is always someone there.”

Continuous Improvement

This collegiate approach would have only come about as a result of 360-degree communication with store teams.

“We learn from our great people because we go out and about more to understand what is going on. We are all on the same journey and that has enabled us to deliver the right support for our store teams.”

The Peoplesafe devices support Pret’s other safety priorities, investing in quality CCTV, conflict management workshops and risk e-learning modules.

John Seddon from Peoplesafe added: “For Mark, whatever occurs, there is a better record and response, and the staff feel more re-assured and respected by their employer.”

Cost-Effective Solutions

“Since we went live, I’ve walked around a number of stores and spoken to staff and everyone knows what the device is and how to use it,” John added.

Such innovations represent good value for businesses. John added:

“The monthly cost is not much more than a cup of coffee, but what cost do you put on your staff’s safety? For the cost of a manned guard for one week, you could roll out five of these devices for a whole year,”

Ensuring Safety

By leveraging scalable safety technologies, Pret ensures its values are embedded in every aspect of its operations, from the smallest local shop to its largest franchises. This commitment underscores Pret’s ongoing dedication to fostering safe and sustainable environments for both its employees and customers.

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