When studying for my A levels I worked at my local Tesco. Every Thursday and Friday evening and Saturday morning I’d jump in my little silver Mini and head across town to work.
I loved it. A bit of responsibility, subsidised meals and discounted shopping for my Mum. Brilliant.
I worked alongside a mix of others from local schools as well as the full-time staff who accepted our, at times, exuberant approach to shelf-stacking and customer service with uncommonly good grace.
My experience has led me - when times and headlines are tough for Tesco and other supermarkets - to wonder why they don’t roll out a communications campaign focussed around how deeply woven these businesses are in the UK’s national identity. We are famously a nation of shop-keepers but how many of us have worked at Tesco/Sainsbury’s/Morrisons/Asda et al over the years? To me its an audience they are failing to successfully tap into.
I, like many of you, will have seen the moving story of the Sainsbury’s employee kept in her job for five years despite gradually being overtaken by Alzheimers.
As Mrs Salomon’s condition worsened Sainsbury’s took steps to ensure she was given tasks she could still undertake, even creating a completely new job for her. Eventually she was forced to retire this week which hastened her son to reveal the story via Twitter.
What became clear is the wonderful community spirit that exists at Sainsbury’s in Harrow where Mrs Salomon worked for five years. As her son said Sainsbury’s “acted with compassion, class and dignity” then hailed the store for going “above and beyond”.
Too many businesses look to communicate first before getting fundamentals like strategy and culture right. Strategies are, in the most part, obvious and often communicated openly. Culture glues organisations together and includes things like purpose, approach and basic values. Culture therefore is harder to put a finger on, quantify or communicate.
That is why - beyond the human element of this story - I was so pleased to see a supermarket making positive headlines. This story shines a light on Sainsbury’s corporate culture and the kind of people it employees. At their store in Harrow, at least, they are people with very strong values who take the right approach I their work which makes Sainsbury’s my Communicator of the Week.
Communicator of the Week is written by Edward Staite.
If you enjoyed this article, you can subscribe for free to our twice weekly event and subscriber alerts.
Currently, every new subscriber will receive three of our favourite reports about the public relations sector.