The Living Wage Foundation
As a business owner you want the best for your team. Whether that’s because you have an altruistic view on life, or you understand that a great team sets the foundations of a great business. For me it’s a bit of both. I worked in hospitality for a long-time pre-pandemic, and it was sometimes a struggle to get by- even with two incomes in our household. With the hours I worked, having a 2nd job wasn’t much of an option, and my employers didn’t care much for the personal circumstances of those under their charge, and so it led to payday loans, and then more payday loans to cover the previous payday loans until that led to needing a bigger overdraft and running behind on my mortgage. The only thing that I didn’t need to worry about at the time was that I was a Kitchen Manager which meant that I ate for free on shift. If it was a 12-hour shift, then I’d get to eat twice. Unfortunately, though, I was salaried which meant that it didn’t matter if I went over my 48 hours (which I did anyway) as I wouldn’t get paid for it- all’s I was doing was reducing the labour % for my employer.
My scenario led to my performance at work (and home) suffering, which led to more drinking and more smoking which made me spiral even further until one day I jumped before I was pushed. I went from being good at my job and loving every minute of it to despising everything. My employer never once asked why my performance had slipped but rather documented that it had slipped.
I hopped from job to job and never stayed anywhere for any length of time. The hospitality industry as a whole was drastically different pre-pandemic and I only ever found one employer that actually cared about their employees, but because of my past relationship with hospitality I just couldn’t see this and so I moved again to my last ever job in the industry.
The situation that I was in is indicative of the situation that most people in the UK are in- especially those in hospitality. We work long hours, with few to no breaks and often for no more than minimum wage, and with few to no benefits.
I wasn’t living, I was surviving.
When I started Evans and Co Hospitality Accountants I did it to make a better life for myself and my family with no thought to how I might be able to impact the lives of others, and in fact I didn’t want “others”- the whole idea of starting my own business was to be my own boss, work my own hours, and make enough to be comfortable. But, I grew my business to a size where I could no longer manage on my own and I had to bring others in and I ensured that they were paid the same wage as the job that they’d just left. There was no thought behind this, no motive, and definitely no altruism.
The business grew again, and I needed more staff, and then again, and again. I can’t put my finger on the exact date that it happened, but there came a time where I realised that I wasn’t the one running my business- I was growing it and my staff were running it. That’s the point where I realised that I didn’t have staff, I had a team, and once I realised that I had a team, something just “clicked”. I thought to myself “wow, I need these people, like, I really need these people”, and then I started to think back to the last time that I was part of someone else’s “team”, and I wondered if they’d ever gone through that very same thought process. I decided at that point that I didn’t want any of them to be in the same situation that I was in throughout a good portion of my hospitality career, and that if I wanted the best from my team then I had to pay them what they were worth to me, not what the market or other job descriptions decided they were worth, but what I decided that their value was worth to me, and that value is more than the National Living Wage, and more than the Living Wage Foundation determines the actual UK living wage to be.
The average salary in my business is £28,857.95 per annum (or £14.80 per hour), and our labour percentage is around 55% (this is high by accountancy standards and definitely high by hospitality standards, but our other major overheads are software and so we don’t have a typical COGS %). Our revenue for the first 6 months of this year was equal to our revenue for the whole of last year, and this year we’ll generate 2.5 times what we did last year as we’re still growing.
Since the point when my mindset changed, we’ve grown exponentially, and I’ve now been able to remove myself from a major part of the day-to-day running of the business and placed greater control of the business in the hands of the team. Because of this, my labour % is now decreasing as the team have been building our processes and procedures that streamline workflows and increase the quality of our output.
Subscribing to, and exceeding the expectations set by the Living Wage Foundation has been a huge part of our success and continued growth, and I am going to ensure that we continue to exceed these expectations.