Anthony Joyce co-founded Wolf Components in 2017, and the bed industry specialist supplier has gone from strength to strength ever since, now employing over 60 members of staff across its two sites in Rotherham – and going to great pains to retain them …
How large is your workforce, and what kind of job roles are involved?
Our workforce currently stands at around 60 employees across the company. Job roles range from entry-level production through to experienced machine operators, maintenance and team leaders. They are supported by a team of supply chain, finance and administration managers and staff.
Is recruitment a challenge?
Recruitment has been a challenge in this post-pandemic world, in addition to identifying talented potential employees who are looking to commit to a long-term career instead of just short-term working. Increased time and fresh approaches have been required.
Why might a job searcher choose Wolf over another local employer?
We pride ourselves on being a true family business, and as a small team actively work to create an atmosphere of every employee feeling valued and never just a number. We’ve been pleased to see many of our team recommending friends and family members to join us, and have often seen employees return to Wolf.
What measures have you put in place to increase worker satisfaction and ensure staff churn is minimal?
The directors have been active in increasing benefits for staff as the business has grown. A health plan was introduced, which has been well received, and this has been extended to include employees’ families.
This year, further benefits such as enhanced sick pay are being introduced for employees with longer service, therefore rewarding commitment. We also quickly recognised the coming impact of the cost of living crisis, and implemented a company-wide salary increase back in the spring.
Have you weighed up the costs against the likely benefits of doing so?
In every instance we have found the costs of these measures – ensuring every employee feels valued and supported at work – to be minimal compared to the benefits. Of course, retaining an excellent and happy team is significantly less costly than continuous recruitment and the employment of temporary staff.
What do you think your employees value most about working for Wolf?
All employees are given the opportunity to take ownership of their career development. Our production employees are encouraged to work through a multi-tier training plan, to develop their skills in addition to increasing their salary. Our other staff are actively encouraged to grow their own career within the company through training and multi-skilling, and we now have employees pursuing finance apprenticeships and further health and safety training, in addition to wellbeing and mental health.
We believe our employees value these opportunities to progress, and all our managers have been promoted and grown through the company.
How do you think your approach stacks up compared to the wider industry (and other sectors)?
We have always been keen to focus on long-term careers at Wolf instead of short-term employment. We believe this approach makes our employees feel part of the growth and success of the business, in addition to developing strong relationships and communication across all levels. Our ethos has been to recognise and value skills and experience and, unusually across the industry, we were proud to retain all our employees through the pandemic.
Do you feel there’s a disconnect between industry and training bodies?
In our experience, training bodies generally deliver generic skills, and the majority of valuable training in our industry is still undertaken ‘on the job’. The availability of more furniture- and manufacturing-specific training would certainly be welcomed.
How might the industry make itself more attractive and accessible to new recruits?
More information and promotion of the career diversity and opportunities of working in the furniture industry needs to be undertaken. It is truly an industry where talented employees can start at any level and, with the right support, can progress to senior positions and rewarding careers.
Read more about the furuniture industry's staffing crisis in January's issue of Furniture News.