Strategy & Operations » Governance » Staff agency FD denies staff mistreated at Sports Direct’s central UK warehouse

THE finance director of the biggest supplier of staff to Sports Direct’s central UK warehouse has admitted it relied on an “anonymous face-to-face survey” to measure employee engagement and denied that any staff had been mistreated there.

Recruitment agency Transline received just a 2% response rate on a whole of employee online survey conducted in the spring where only 45 out of 2,000 people replied, sister title HRD Connect reports.

So in preparation for the appearance at the Business, Innovation and Skills select committee hearing into employment practices at Sports Direct, it conducted a one question face-to-face survey.

Giving evidence to the committee, Transline finance director Jennifer Hardy initially claimed that its staff placed at the Shirebrook warehouse showed a 96% positive engagement score.

However, when later pressed, Hardy admitted this survey was an “anonymous” face-to-face one conducted shortly before the committee appearance, and that an online survey three months ago had generated just 45 responses.

Hardy revealed that even a reward incentive for filling it in, believed to be around £100 in value, was not enough to entice workers to give their views.

“We did a full survey of all the current workers a few months ago which was a survey monkey which was an electronic process,” she said.

“I got 45 responses to that. So I’m normally on that basis saying to those workers on site we want feedback from you, we want to understand if you’ve got any concerns, any issues, and it was a very nicely worded email, there was a reward for filling it out, I gave £100 – there was an incentive there to give us that feedback, so I can’t see how that would be derived as a negative.

“Last week was a face-to-face survey. We had 348 responses and we got a 96% positive rating,” Hardy added.

She and Transline managing director Chris Birkby were also not able to provide any evidence of surveys of the workforce being conducted prior to the online one earlier this year.

Birkby admitted: “We do them ad-hoc and that’s something we should move forward to; more of a structured survey process.”

The committee also scrutinised the recruitment agencies approach to employee wellbeing at the site.

In response, Hardy said there were several ways for employees to relay their views: “It’s our responsibility to take care of employee welfare. We’re on the NG20 which is a community-led committee which looks at not only the workplace but welfare outside the workplace and the impact its having on the local area.

“We are holding the surgeries daily, having contact with them, and also got 18 to 20 of our internal staff on site so if they’ve got any issues whatsoever, and they actually walk past the agency office on their way out of the building, they can always come in. It’s an open door policy, air any concerns that they may have,” she added.

All three representatives from the recruitment agencies said that to the best of their knowledge no-one had been mistreated at Sports Direct.