June 22, 2023

Q&A with Denise Scott – HR Manager

When it comes to the success of a business, people are a crucially important ingredient, and that’s no different here at Sambro.

Last year Sambro celebrated its most successful year to date in terms of sales and growth, thanks to our people-first approach to operations and evolved work practices.

Over the last 12 months, we’ve invested heavily in our people, growing our team from 96 to 106.  

In our second instalment of our Q and A series, in which Sambro’s experts will tackle some of the toy industry’s big and burning questions, Denise Scott, HR Manager, shares her views on why it is the people that really do make or break a business…

  1. What is it about your ‘people-focused’ approach, which really works at Sambro? 

The most important thing when it comes to being people-focused is the engagement we have with our people, our teams, our customers and throughout the business as a whole.

At Sambro we share ideas and initiatives openly; no idea or question is dismissed or trivial, and the ‘people focus’ starts right at the top with our CEO Paul Blackaby’s open-door policy and coffee mornings, centred on our engagement philosophy.

Our business involves sophisticated coordination of many business partners, including manufacturing partners, logistics partners, licensors and customers. This means that a cooperative culture is vital, as are the people who live in this culture daily. It is the people that make our business work, making it what it is and driving our growth and success.

  1. Why is investing in their well-being and development so important?

Our people are our greatest assets, and we have a team of highly dedicated and diligent people. Our CEO, Paul Blackaby regularly instils this in his Town Hall meetings and it is an ethos we believe in and are striving to achieve with every member of the Sambro team. 

  1. What do we do differently at Sambro? 

I would say that after a huge culture shift, we genuinely value our people and are placing much greater importance on investing in our employees.

Sambro is a fast-paced business and the learning and development for our team was previously more of an afterthought.  As a business we are working together on changing this over time, placing L&D and training at the forefront of an employee’s career at Sambro, so each employee has a clear development path to work towards.

  1. Tell us more about the training programme here at Sambro. 

We are making significant positive strides with our employee training programmes, with a particular focus on creating a path for each role. Whilst we are moving forward and progressing, there is still some work to do to make the programmes as natural and embedded as we would like.

Promotion from within would be our aim with every vacancy if we could, but dependent on the role requirements, this is not always the case. 

The aim by the end of 2023 is to have a clear programme in place for each role and what the progression through the business looks like, not just for the new and future Leaders in the business but for all employees.

  1. What providers are you currently working with? 

Currently one of our major partnerships is with Total Excellence Centre (TEC) based in Bolton, which provides Leadership and Management training for the business, from Coaching and Mentoring, Sales Support and Customer Service to ILM Leadership accredited courses.

In 2022 we trained seven supervisors and team leaders in ILM L2, and 12 Managers in ILM L4, which was mainly funded due to TEC’s diligent work.  This training will now progress into further leadership development and with TEC’s expertise, we will develop a bespoke programme to fit with our additional development needs.

We also work with The Growth Company, Manchester Chamber, Leading Well, Intertek and PBA Training.

  1. What well-being initiatives do you have in place? 

To support our employees’ well-being one of our 2023 ESG goals was to provide a Total Well Being Strategy.  So far, we have held Mental Health Awareness days for our leadership team and managers and recently trained six Mental Health First Aiders, all with the aim to help and support our people in times of need, particularly in a post-covid world and current cost of living crisis.

We have also recently partnered with a financial advisor to help with mortgage applications and financial advice for our team, which we understand is of greater need in recent years. Our free EAP and Cash Plans also provide help with physical and mental well-being, GP appointments, counselling services and Perkbox. Currently, we are also assessing wider initiatives to help with the cost-of-living crisis. 

  1. Tell us more about the menopause workplace champions schemes. 

The menopause workplace champions are a new initiative for Sambro and we are yet to roll this out to the wider business. In Q3 this year we will train our leaders and managers on how to recognise and support our employees if they are approaching or experiencing menopause, have family members affected, or post-menopausal employees who still need help with the changes experienced.

Around half (52%) of the employees in Sambro are female with 25% approaching or post-menopausal age, but we also have 48% who are male and may need guidance on how to support family or partners or are themselves experiencing andropause. We’re keen to roll this out to the rest of the business to boost our inclusive and welfare policies.

  1. What’s next for Sambro when it comes to people-focused initiatives? 

Our next steps will be to consider how we can introduce and adopt a continuous learning environment and to retain, attract and develop our future talent and appreciate that we have so many creative minds in our business to help us to do this.

In May the business won the MEN Business of the Year award, which generated an even greater ‘buzz’ throughout the business, and we would like to make sure we keep that excitement and momentum going. Oh, and more training!

Georgia Dunn