HR Grapevine
HR Grapevine | Executive Grapevine International Ltd

From apprenticeship to leadership

After its apprenticeship roll out in 2018, Pret a Manger has built a burgeoning workforce of competent leaders and…
From apprenticeship to leadership

 

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Leading a change


After its apprenticeship roll out in 2018, Pret a Manger has built a burgeoning workforce of competent leaders and…

Words by Jade Burke| Design by Theo Griffin

Recent studies showcase how important good leadership can be. 2019 cross-sector research of almost 1,500 UK employees by Jobrapido found that more than a third of UK workers want to leave their company because, amongst other reasons, their boss lacks vital leadership qualities. On the flipside, Randstad’s poll of near 9,000 employees discovered that 24% would remain in their current role if strong management was demonstrated.

Yet it’s not just the impact to people talent that leadership impacts. In October 2018, The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) estimated that the cost of poor management to the UK economy would be an eyewatering £19billion a year through lost productivity. It makes the need to find leadership skills an imperative.

The necessity of leadership skills is why international sandwich shop chain, Pret a Manger, is making efforts to improve its leadership ability with a scheme called The Pret Apprenticeship. First launched in 2018, the scheme is designed to offer individuals an alternative to traditional education routes in order to give them the skills needed for leadership roles.

The scheme offers employees hands-on training, as well as the opportunity to complete a university degree, and has proved so popular that 110 people now enrol each year. Speaking exclusively to HR Grapevine, Andrea Wareham, Chief People Officer at Pret a Manger, reveals why the programme helps the firm’s leadership capabilities, staff and the business itself.

Firstly, according to Wareham, the firm is helping to improve the firm’s leadership capability. “It’s [the apprenticeship route] a great job for a school-leaver and we have a whole programme of career progression up to manager,” she says. “27 apprentices have been promoted to a key role or leader within their first 12 months, with the majority of key roles being hot chefs (someone responsible for preparing hot food), team member trainers or baristas. Two are already in training to become leaders. We hope many more will progress as leaders upon completion of their first programme at the end of this year.”

 

Building leaders:

The Human Resources Professionals Association published a white paper last year that found 63% of Millennials feel a lack of leadership development.

The State of Leadership Development 2015 revealed that 83% of organisations say it is important to develop leaders at all levels.

A report published by Universum, a global research and advisory firm, found that 41% of executives expect future leaders to have the ability to empower their employees.

Around 85% of our managers started life as team members, and they know it’s hard work, but they really look after their teams

Moulding leaders
The scheme is also creating leaders who understand what working life at Pret A Manger is like. Those who embark on this route begin as a team member whilst they embark on a Level 2 Hospitality Apprenticeship. They can then train as a leader on the Level 3 Hospitality Team Supervisor Apprenticeship. Finally, they can progress towards becoming a manager taking on the BA Business Management Undergraduate Degree with the Manchester Metropolitan University.

“Around 85% of our managers started life as team members, and they know it’s hard work, but they really look after their teams,” shares Wareham. “It’s a good option for people who want to leave school but still want to get a degree, and we will teach you everything you need to know.”

 

Pret's history...

The first Pret store opened in July 1986, located at 75B Victoria Street in London. This is now where the head office is based.

In the early days, Pret sold around 12 cups of coffee a day. It now sells around 1.4million.

Back in 1998, the firm served 20million customers who ate 14million sandwiches and drank 10million cups of java.

In 2008, Pret set up its Rising Stars programme to help hundreds of homeless people get jobs.

Leadership behaviours
Yet the building blocks to become a leader have to be displayed by an individual before they can progress. There are four key behaviours Pret looks for in its apprentices who hope to shoot up the hierarchy. These include: passion; clear communication; team work and great execution. If a candidate expresses these characteristics Wareham believes they will undoubtedly go far within the business. “Pret has defined the behaviours that we believe are important for anybody working here and we have a set of behaviours that are relevant to every single person working at Pret, from your newest joiner to the CEO,” she explains.

The specificity of Pret A Manger’s leadership behavioural requirements tallies with contemporary thinking. Deloitte’s 2019 Human Capital Trends survey stated that many organisations expect leaders to have specific skills such as the ability to manage operations, supervise teams, make decisions, prioritse investments and manage the bottom line.

Yet, while these skills may seem obvious for a leader to acquire, 80% of Deloitte’s respondents believe that they need to start to develop leaders differently. Additionally, 63% of Millennials feel there is a lack of leadership development within their workplace, according to The Human Resources Professionals Association, suggests a bigger emphasis on building and nurturing leaders is necessary to grow a business. If so, Pret could be ahead of the curve.

‘A melting pot’
Like any organisation would, Pret are keen for its development scheme to help the business succeed. And, in step with contemporary thinking around the benefits that diversity can bring, Pret’s apprenticeship scheme is that it is open to anyone of any age. While Wareham recognises that ‘there is an untapped talent pool out there of school-leavers’, she also understands the benefits of attracting talent from a range of backgrounds with a variety of different abilities when it comes to building leaders.

Research by Josh Bersin, President and Founder of Bersin & Associates, a leading industry research and advisory firm, backs her thinking. Their studies found that inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market. Additionally, a study by the Technical University of Munich discovered that if a workplace develops diversity, it promotes better decision making, 87% of the time, within the company and its leaders, suggesting why employing a diverse workforce is crucial.

From Wareham’s description, it also has a less tangible benefit for the business: making it an enjoyable place to work. “Diversity is so important and in fact when we asked our apprentices and school-leavers particularly what they enjoyed the most whilst working at Pret, it was one of the top three things in terms of how diverse the employees were. They love how Pret is this melting pot of 120 different nationalities, lots of different ages and backgrounds – it just makes life so much more interesting.

“Pret has got a real heart; we care about our people a lot and a lot of people say that and it can be lip service, but we really do. As a company grows you can easily get distracted by process and structure and corporateness and some of those things are required but you have got to make sure you don’t lose the heart of the business.”

 
Mobile

Recent studies showcase how important good leadership can be. 2019 cross-sector research of almost 1,500 UK employees by Jobrapido found that more than a third of UK workers want to leave their company because, amongst other reasons, their boss lacks vital leadership qualities. On the flipside, Randstad’s poll of near 9,000 employees discovered that 24% would remain in their current role if strong management was demonstrated.

Yet it’s not just the impact to people talent that leadership impacts. In October 2018, The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) estimated that the cost of poor management to the UK economy would be an eyewatering £19billion a year through lost productivity. It makes the need to find leadership skills an imperative.

The necessity of leadership skills is why international sandwich shop chain, Pret a Manger, is making efforts to improve its leadership ability with a scheme called The Pret Apprenticeship. First launched in 2018, the scheme is designed to offer individuals an alternative to traditional education routes in order to give them the skills needed for leadership roles.

The scheme offers employees hands-on training, as well as the opportunity to complete a university degree, and has proved so popular that 110 people now enrol each year. Speaking exclusively to HR Grapevine, Andrea Wareham, Chief People Officer at Pret a Manger, reveals why the programme helps the firm’s leadership capabilities, staff and the business itself.

Firstly, according to Wareham, the firm is helping to improve the firm’s leadership capability. “It’s [the apprenticeship route] a great job for a school-leaver and we have a whole programme of career progression up to manager,” she says. “27 apprentices have been promoted to a key role or leader within their first 12 months, with the majority of key roles being hot chefs (someone responsible for preparing hot food), team member trainers or baristas. Two are already in training to become leaders. We hope many more will progress as leaders upon completion of their first programme at the end of this year.”

Building leaders:

The Human Resources Professionals Association published a white paper last year that found 63% of Millennials feel a lack of leadership development.

The State of Leadership Development 2015 revealed that 83% of organisations say it is important to develop leaders at all levels.

A report published by Universum, a global research and advisory firm, found that 41% of executives expect future leaders to have the ability to empower their employees.

Moulding leaders
The scheme is also creating leaders who understand what working life at Pret A Manger is like. Those who embark on this route begin as a team member whilst they embark on a Level 2 Hospitality Apprenticeship. They can then train as a leader on the Level 3 Hospitality Team Supervisor Apprenticeship. Finally, they can progress towards becoming a manager taking on the BA Business Management Undergraduate Degree with the Manchester Metropolitan University.

“Around 85% of our managers started life as team members, and they know it’s hard work, but they really look after their teams,” shares Wareham. “It’s a good option for people who want to leave school but still want to get a degree, and we will teach you everything you need to know.”

The first Pret store opened in July 1986, located at 75B Victoria Street in London. This is now where the head office is based.

In the early days, Pret sold around 12 cups of coffee a day. It now sells around 1.4million.

Back in 1998, the firm served 20million customers who ate 14million sandwiches and drank 10million cups of java.

In 2008, Pret set up its Rising Stars programme to help hundreds of homeless people get jobs.

Leadership behaviours
Yet the building blocks to become a leader have to be displayed by an individual before they can progress. There are four key behaviours Pret looks for in its apprentices who hope to shoot up the hierarchy. These include: passion; clear communication; team work and great execution. If a candidate expresses these characteristics Wareham believes they will undoubtedly go far within the business. “Pret has defined the behaviours that we believe are important for anybody working here and we have a set of behaviours that are relevant to every single person working at Pret, from your newest joiner to the CEO,” she explains.

The specificity of Pret A Manger’s leadership behavioural requirements tallies with contemporary thinking. Deloitte’s 2019 Human Capital Trends survey stated that many organisations expect leaders to have specific skills such as the ability to manage operations, supervise teams, make decisions, prioritse investments and manage the bottom line.

Yet, while these skills may seem obvious for a leader to acquire, 80% of Deloitte’s respondents believe that they need to start to develop leaders differently. Additionally, 63% of Millennials feel there is a lack of leadership development within their workplace, according to The Human Resources Professionals Association, suggests a bigger emphasis on building and nurturing leaders is necessary to grow a business. If so, Pret could be ahead of the curve.

‘A melting pot’
Like any organisation would, Pret are keen for its development scheme to help the business succeed. And, in step with contemporary thinking around the benefits that diversity can bring, Pret’s apprenticeship scheme is that it is open to anyone of any age. While Wareham recognises that ‘there is an untapped talent pool out there of school-leavers’, she also understands the benefits of attracting talent from a range of backgrounds with a variety of different abilities when it comes to building leaders.

Research by Josh Bersin, President and Founder of Bersin & Associates, a leading industry research and advisory firm, backs her thinking. Their studies found that inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market. Additionally, a study by the Technical University of Munich discovered that if a workplace develops diversity, it promotes better decision making, 87% of the time, within the company and its leaders, suggesting why employing a diverse workforce is crucial.

From Wareham’s description, it also has a less tangible benefit for the business: making it an enjoyable place to work. “Diversity is so important and in fact when we asked our apprentices and school-leavers particularly what they enjoyed the most whilst working at Pret, it was one of the top three things in terms of how diverse the employees were. They love how Pret is this melting pot of 120 different nationalities, lots of different ages and backgrounds – it just makes life so much more interesting.

“Pret has got a real heart; we care about our people a lot and a lot of people say that and it can be lip service, but we really do. As a company grows you can easily get distracted by process and structure and corporateness and some of those things are required but you have got to make sure you don’t lose the heart of the business.”


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