Staff at Dawson & Sanderson are being consulted on a pay rise and bonus structure as part of a fresh approach to engage more closely with the travel agency’s workforce.
Managing director Annelene Hutton (pictured, second left) admitted the agency had fallen behind in terms of hiking salaries post-Covid in order to retain and attract staff.
“Historically we were one of the best paid travel agencies in the northeast. And that’s something we need to hold on to. I think we have slipped. Coming out of Covid people have upped their game and we haven’t responded to that as quickly,” she said, adding: “But that’s something we are responding very quickly to now.”
She said understanding employees’ needs at the north of England agency chain was one of her biggest priorities.
Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, she said: “We’ve stabilised the business and now we’re focusing on the future of the company. Our priority is to understand what’s important to the workforce and what needs we need to meet.
“They [staff] have the answer to a lot of our problems so let’s sit down and listen. You can’t ignore your workforce, without them we don’t have a business,” she said, adding the company had started to do regular surveys to get staff feedback.
The company is now putting pay scales in place and development matrixes. She said: “It works because people feel they’ve got something to aspire to and work towards. It’s based on performance, and that that will be good for the company ultimately.”
The agency has proposed a pay rise and bonus scheme but will be assessing staff feedback before rolling it out. Hutton said she was prepared to change the proposals if the majority of staff felt the balance between the pay rise and bonus structure was not right.
“My question to the staff will be ‘did we get that decision right? Was the balance between the pay increase and the bonus structure correct?” said Hutton, who said the company was ploughing profits back into the business as part of its investment in staff.
Hutton said the company was currently recruiting to fill vacancies after some staff decided to leave the sector because of issues raised by working during the pandemic.
She said: “We have seen people actually just get up and just say they’ve just had enough and want something different.
“We’ve got a number of vacancies right now and we’re actively trying to recruit. We don’t generally get applicants with any travel experience so we are looking at that training and development piece.”
She also admitted the business needed a “more flexible approach” to working but said it did not currently have the technology to set up a homeworking model, while its focus remained on its high-street shops.
“Obviously we need to maintain our stores and we’re on quite minimum staffing levels as it stands. We are aware of customer trends, and the way people book has changed. It is at the forefront of our mind; we’re moving in that direction,” she added.
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