Gloucestershire food firm creates blueprint for the modern workplace

Innovative Gloucestershire food business Green Gourmet has just been ranked as one of the UK's Best Workplaces – and may also have created the blueprint for the modern workplace.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published

Food innovator Green Gourmet has just been certified as a great place to work and recognised as one of the UK’s Best Workplaces for Wellbeing – a reward for creating a culture thousands of other firms are now desperately trying to achieve.

Pre-pandemic the Stroud firm, which delivers food products for the education, travel, leisure and retail sectors, had already established a successful and dynamic ‘work from home if you want’ approach – as well as created one of Gloucestershire’s coolest offices.

Recognising its achievements, Great Place to Work included the firm in its UK’s Best Workplaces 2022 list and certified it as a Great Place to Work – and with the pandemic forcing a whole new approach to home working and wellbeing nationwide it is a model many other firms want to replicate.

‘It does feel a bit like we have our hands on the Holy Grail at the moment. But this is not a case of ‘job done’, it is an ongoing focus for us,’ said Caroline Barnes, director of people and performance at Green Gourmet.

‘We have created a culture of open dialogue with our people to provide ongoing feedback enabling us to set clear boundaries, provide clear instructions and tackle the thing we need to improve. This is part of who we are and we don’t expect those conversations to ever stop. And ‘yes’, it is working.’

Barnes said Green Gourmet’s goal had been to develop a culture that allowed staff to reach their highest potential, but emphasised flexibility – allowing them to put family first if needed, work from anywhere they wanted, yet still love being in the office and always get the job done.

It believed if it could achieve its goal, it would create a near virtuous circle whereby a dynamic, happy workplace attracted and retained the best staff and drove the company forward.

It is a journey that can be traced back to the very beginnings of the ever-innovative business, started 30 years ago by founder Adam Starkey, and which today creates and delivers food products for sectors as diverse as education, travel, leisure and retail.

It was taken up in earnest by managing director Mike Hanley when he joined in 2017.

It is a culture underlined by Green Gourmet’s mantra: ‘Have fun, be dynamic, trust each other, always deliver’ and reflected back by its office space – a former bar, restaurant and one-time malt house at Salmon Springs; think London creative studio or Silicon Valley firm meets the best of Gloucestershire.

Barned added: ‘It has been a four-year journey so far to get this really embedded. When Mike came we transformed the way we led ourselves and our people. .

‘It is all about performance. We want to take the business to the next level. We know we have great people, and we want to get the best out of them and for their experience with us to benefit them personally and professionally.

‘We focussed heavily on wellbeing and that led us down the flexible working path before Covid. It was about creating clarity for people, so they knew their boundaries, what was expected of them and where the company are going and are empowered to make decisions and deliver to achieve our goals.

‘With consistency and repetition this now feels like the norm. The conversations are ongoing, but content has all changed as we have moved forward and continuously improve. That mantra – have fun, be dynamic, trust each other, always deliver – is not aspirational now, it is who we are.’

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