This year, we've given every employee an 11% pay rise. In the face of the cost-of-living crisis and huge energy bills, how have we managed it? And why?

Manager at Middlesex showrrom sits in front of computer, on phone
Jason, manager of our Middlesex showroom.

The “why” is easy. “Respect for people and society is integral to London Stone,” says Steve Walley, managing director. “We know the cost of just about everything has increased throughout the year, at rates not experienced for 40 years here in the UK. We understand the pressure this places on household budgets and the impact it has on lives.”

As part of company policy, this pay rise follows on closely from our reduction of staff working hours for improved work/life balance, and our accreditation, this year, as a Living Wage Employer. This commits us, along with 9,000+ other accredited organisations, to paying, as a minimum, the independently calculated Living Wage hourly rate. Unlike the Government’s national minimum wage, it is based on the actual cost of living.

The Living Wage Employer Mark of 3 superimposed circles, showing the London Stone is an accredited member.
Only accredited members can display the Living Wage Employer logo.

How our employees made a pay rise possible

But how have we done it? After all, inflation has hit us all, companies and individuals alike. Inflation is currently estimated at around 10%. It was 12% in August of 2022. But the average growth in rates of pay was only 6% up to September last year.

It boils down to a determination to, in the words of our finance director, “making stuff happen”! A huge facilitator of "making stuff happen" is our adoption of the Lean philosophy. This drives continuous improvements throughout the company’s departments. It has the potential to make every work practice more efficient and we’ve been bowled over by how, over the past two years, our staff have taken to Lean with such enthusiasm.  

The result, through staff suggestions on how to improve processes and create efficiencies, has saved the company significant amounts of time and money. It continues to do so.

For example, even something as seemingly minor as creating a spare parts bin for pallets means that we can repair damaged pallets and not throw them away. Putting a roll of packing foam on a wheeled platform gives it a storage space that’s quick to find, at the same time allowing it to be rolled to where it is needed. And many changes are much larger.

“Many organisations are resistant to change,” says Steve. “We celebrate it. Our approach is dynamic and agile, enabled by a flat company structure, so great ideas and improvements can be discussed, tested and implemented rapidly, by those at the rock face.”

Shadow board displaying equipment for saw bench.
This newly installed shadow board was suggested by Lean Operations Manager Mike Edwards. It has a place for equipment needed to operate a saw bench. Items are easily accessed and it's immediately clear where each should go and if something hasn't been put back.

Increased productivity

Implementing the continuous improvements suggested by employees in all departments has saved us an estimated 2,836 working hours last year alone. That’s more than two months’ of labour hours added to the working year.

This increased productivity obviously has a significant impact on how much we can achieve, especially in in our operations and transport departments, where logistics have a particularly strong role. However, savings have proved possible across all departments. Sales, for example, have just notched up their 500th continuous improvement of the year, with a saving of 223 hours. Everyone in the company puts forward suggestions for continuous improvements. And this means that every single person in London Stone has helped make possible the 11% pay rise.

Final word goes to finance director Duncan Walley. “Everyone plays their part, no matter what their role is, and when you put it all together the result is a strong business with a great culture.

“I would like to thank all of our staff for their hard work and commitment this year, for embracing the Lean transformation and for generally…making stuff happen.”