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Social Justice & Smelly Soap: The Lush Story | #189

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EP 189
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Nathan Bush is a director at eCommerce talent agency, eSuite. He has led eCommerce for businesses with revenue $100m+ and has been recognised as one of Australia’s Top 50 People in eCommerce four years in a row. You can contact Nathan on LinkedIn, Twitter or via email.

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With expertise in employment law, employment relations, compliance and managing complex business projects, Amy’s role as People Support Manager is diverse and also oversees the key functions of recruitment and safety. Throughout her time at Lush, she’s been driven by authentic leadership and having a genuine desire to see people reach their potential and achieve their goals inside or outside the company.

You can contact Amy at LinkedIn

Amy shares her wisdom on how the world’s most famous smelly soap shop looks after its people. Lush!

In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Amy Lynes, People Support Manager at Lush (aka the smelly soap shop). Lush has been selling those amazingly fragrant products for almost 30 years now and has 923 Lush shops in 52 countries worldwide – including some brilliant eCommerce stores of course. In Australia, Amy and her team look after up to 800 team members at a time across Australia and New Zealand ranging in responsibilities from retail to manufacturing to support office. Today, Amy and I dive into how a values based organisation is not only essential for attracting customers – but also attracting staff. We discuss some of Lush’s unique team benefits including fair pay, bonuses for everyone, 50% off product, getting your birthday off, and the very cool Employee Benefits Trust where employees own 10% of the company to ensure that decisions are always made for the right reason. And we also get to techniques for managing mental health, tips for recruitment and how to get regular feedback from your team. 

“They come to us because they like our values and then they help us strengthen those values

Amy Lynes

People Values

“I remember I started 12 years ago at Lush, so I’ve been around for a while. And I remember when I started, I was at the shop and I used to work in the shop and people would often come in and say, “Oh yeah, you’re those guys who do soap, right?” That’s what we were known for. “You’re the smelly soap shop, aren’t you?” And then I feel like that message has changed over the years.

And now people really know us for things like campaigning or for the kind of charities that we support or the causes that we’ve stood up for or things like being against animal testing. And all of those values are quite well known now by our customers. And I think definitely something that we hear from our staff, they are very great at telling us, “Hey, you should campaign on this”, or “This is an issue that Lush haven’t considered”, or “This is an issue that Lush should take a stand on”.

So I guess there’s quite a good feedback loop there, right? They come to us because they like our values and then they help us strengthen those values and they help us think about how we can live those values better. So it works really well, both ways.”

True Insight

“So I think we use all the normal avenues. There are things like appraisals, but we do one thing that we’re still really in the infancy with, but is really exciting for us is that we do use Peakon, the online engagement tool. That’s been great because not only does it allow people to give very anonymized feedback, which I think is quite important to us, I think it helps staff feel like they can be really, really honest about what they’re experiencing.

Peakon, one of the things I like about it is when you’ve used it for a certain amount of time and you have a lot more data, so once you have data of, let’s say Amy doing a survey in year one and a survey in year two, and then maybe Amy leaves the organization in year three and she’s done two or three sets of surveys, it can start to predict for you things like, how long in someone’s tenure is it until they start thinking about looking for another job.

And those insights, I think are very valuable in terms of people strategy, otherwise you think you know what’s happening, but you don’t.”

EBT

“The employee benefit trust basically is … I think the easiest way to explain it is that 10% of the shares of Lush were gifted to the EBT in 2017. So essentially what it means is that all the staff who work for the companies that are owned by Lush are essentially beneficiaries of the employee benefit trust.

So really the whole reason behind the EBT existing is that it enshrines Lush’s ethics and it means that the business can’t be sold to any external organizations, if that were to ever happen in the future, without the majority of the staff actually voting for it. So I think it really importantly protects the things that we believe in.

And we spoke earlier on, about how staff are really drawn to us for our ethics and our values and I think this is a really important part of making sure that the company doesn’t stray from those. It means that the employees all have a voice. It means that we really ensure independent ownership of the business. And it’s definitely a forum for communication. And we’ve seen a huge benefit in the way the EBT can help staff’s voices be heard literally at every level.”

Questions answered in this episode include
  • What are your top recruitment tips in the current climate?
  • Are there any unique policies or workplace behaviours that you have at Lush to foster mental wellness and team loyalty?
  • Why did Lush step away from social media?

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