Sports field with goal posts and houses in the distance

Valuing your workforce - Dunsters Farm

Dunsters Farm is a family-run foodservice, supplying quality food and drink to their customers throughout the North. They have been a leading supplier to coffee shops, restaurants, schools, and hospitals for over 50 years. Hannah Barlow is the Managing Director, working alongside her brother and father:

The real Living Wage is something that has been on our minds for years, but we always thought was out of reach as a small-medium sized family firm. However, last year in the midst of the pandemic, we decided to take the plunge.

Being in the food service sector, we know that the industry has historically been known for low paid, often entry level employment for warehouse and office staff. This was an issue for us when we first considered uplifting our staff given that our competitors had been and continue to pay the minimum wage and that is taken as the norm. We also had the challenge of getting approval from our board as this was something that had not been spoken about before and we had to be clear that this was sustainable from a financial perspective.

However, it was during the Covid-19 pandemic last year where we got to witness and appreciate the true dedication and hard work of our core team. Their work kept our business viable as we were still serving schools and hospitals and we were determined to get over the line and fulfil our ambitions to pay them the real Living Wage. As a family-run business, we have always wanted to be seen as a fair employer who value and look after their workforce.

I first found out about the real Living Wage by attending an online panel discussion on the topic and hearing from Donald of One + All on the benefits it had brought to the business and to their staff. Donald is a true inspiration (even if he would be too modest to admit!) and I thought if they could do it then why couldn’t we? I would also recommend putting yourself forward for these webinars, like the ones run by the Good Employment Charter, as the insights you gain can be game changing for your business.

In terms of the benefits that paying the real Living Wage has brought to our business, here are just a few:

  • Peace of mind knowing that our staff are paid fairly for their hard work.
  • Improved recruitment as we can attract and retain a high calibre of staff.
  • More business. We often work with organisations such as the NHS, schools, and colleges, and they are increasingly looking for contractors that can demonstrate the social value they bring to their communities.

I would urge everyone who is on the fence to strongly consider paying the real Living Wage and see how becoming a better employer works for you.