Meet the finalists: Employer of the Year

By William Dodds

- Last updated on GMT

Four firms have been named as finalists for Employer of the Year
Four firms have been named as finalists for Employer of the Year

Related tags Food manufacture excellence awards

The finalists for the 2024 Food Manufacture Excellence Awards have been chosen, and four businesses are in the running for Employer of the Year.

Arla Foods UK

Arla Foods UK employs 3,700 people across 11 sites that are scattered across the country from Lockerbie to Devon. Averaging more than eight years of service, 97% of its team members are employed full-time and all of them play a role in the producer’s significant operation.

Operating as a farmer-owned cooperative, Arla Foods UK supplies nine out of every 10 litres of milk in the UK and plays a large role in the nation’s supply chain. As part of this role, the firm believes that it has a responsibility to take care of the environment from which it benefits, but also the people that make its success possible.

To achieve this it has established the Strong People, Stronger Planet initiative, which includes services such as access to health kiosks, financial wellbeing tools and cultural learning sessions. Its wider benefits package includes options such as private healthcare, pension contributions up to 6% and career development training.

As part of its application, Arla Foods UK said that the opportunity to learn and grow has been a strong driver of employee engagement, measured by its staff survey, with five levels of a leadership course on offer. Meanwhile, its apprenticeship and graduate schemes have allowed the firm to stand out when hiring new talent.

Bumble Hole Foods

Egg products manufacturer Bumble Hole Foods is a family-owned business that cares deeply about the local community in Worcestershire. Employing 85 full-time members of staff, the firm has developed a caring ethos and culture, reflected in its charity work and relationship with a local SEND school.

Bumble Hole Foods invests heavily in training for staff at all levels of the business, writing in its application for Employer of the Year: “We offer basically unlimited training where appropriate, and we have a proven history of training and developing staff from shop floor to managers​.”

Staff can earn bonuses based on performance against key targets, while longer serving team members are offered additional holiday. Other benefits including healthcare, free electric car charging, flexible overtime and discounts, while it operates a ‘Help to Grow’ programme in partnership with Aston University.

On average, staff have spent eight years with the company and management believes that this is in large part down to the fact that employees feel heard and supported. The owners are regularly in contact with team members and are empathetic, actively offering assistance when any problem arises.

The owners take an interest in what I am doing and are very supportive​,” one staff member reported.

Mondelez International

The home of brands including Cadbury and Maynard Bassetts, Mondelez International employs more than 4,000 people in the UK. In a bid to reflect the philanthropic nature of the Cadbury founders, Mondelez International retains such an approach to this day and continues to invest in UK communities.

On average, staff have spent more than nine and a half years with the manufacturer, while just under 95% are employed on a full-time basis. Mondelez International said in its application that this loyalty is the result of an approach that puts people at the heart of its successes and an ongoing commitment to employee wellbeing.

The firm’s diversity and inclusion strategy is underpinned by a series of groups that provide support in meeting key goals through the organisation of events and training sessions. These have helped educate and empower team members and feed into a culture where staff feel free to be themselves.

Employee benefits include discounted gym memberships, dental and travel insurance and a taste card, while all staff are entitled to 27 days of holiday, eight statutory sick days and additional flexibility to take half days when requested. Mondelez International also invests extensively in skills, training and development and runs the annual ‘Growing Here Week’.

Proper Cornish

Pasty and savoury pastry manufacturer Proper Cornish currently employs 212 members of staff, 177 of which are full-time, with the rest part-time. Due to recent growth the business is hoping to expand its team through the recruitment of 35 more colleagues in the near future.

The average length of service at Proper Cornish is six years, but the manufacturer notes that several employees have been with the firm for longer than 10 years, with some even reaching the 30-year milestone. According to how long someone has been with the firm, additional benefits can be earned including extra holiday and a bonus.

To ensure that team members feel that their concerns are being heard, the firm operates a quarterly colleague forum which invites staff to share feedback – good, bad or indifferent. All suggestions are reviewed by the board and decisions are weighed against information communicated in the colleague survey. Benefits on offer include enhanced overtime rates, free and confidential counselling, free fruit and pasties and a funded health plan.

Meanwhile, Proper Cornish delivers training in several forms, such as eLearning programmes, apprenticeships and external courses. The Team Leader Supervisor Level 3 Apprenticeship Programme was offered in response to the company survey and involves a 12-month process for staff hoping to step up into managerial roles.

The winners of this prize will be announced at the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards 2024 on Thursday 8 February at the London Hilton Bankside. You can buy tickets here.​​​

Thank you to our headliner sponsor Menzies, alongside event sponsors Quor, HSBC, and CAS Recruitment.

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