Staff engagement proved to be child’s play for Kent Employer of the Year

A Tunbridge Wells company which has spent 65 years “dressing children beautifully” has won the Employer of the Year award, sponsored by law firm Furley Page, at the Kent Excellence in Business Awards 2017.

Childrensalon employs nearly 300 staff running the world’s largest online store for designer childrenswear. Director Denise Hamilton was presented with the award by Andrew Masters, Partner and Head of Employment at Furley Page, at a glittering ceremony at the Kent Event Centre on 22 June.

Andrew says:

“It’s been an enormous pleasure for Furley Page to sponsor the Employer of the Year category and to have the opportunity to visit and meet so many excellent and hard-working employers in Kent. We feel privileged to have so many great employers in our county.

“In this highly competitive category, irrespective of size or sector, the employer must demonstrate the hard economics of commercial success – turnover, profit and strategies for growth – while achieving excellence in its commitment to the support and development of its most important asset – its workforce. 

“All of the finalists are passionate about their staff. They were able to demonstrate clear evidence of how innovative initiatives around staff engagement were making a positive difference to the lives of their staff and the benefits this brings to business outcomes.”

Sponsoring the Employer of the Year Award is a natural fit for Furley Page, which has one of the most highly experienced employment law teams in the region. The team’s expertise is recognised by independent national legal guide Chambers UK, while Andrew is personally ranked in the highest band for employment lawyers in the South of England.

Andrew says Childrensalon was a clear and stand-out winner in this year’s award.

“It is a highly successful and rapidly growing business with a good story to tell. It has a great buzz with very happy staff. In terms of housing, health and education it ticks all the boxes. Crucially, with a generous heart, it actively lives its mantra of people before profit. Huge congratulations to them.

Childrensalon has used annual growth of 50% to invest in its staff and create a motivated workforce, often promoted from within the ranks.

“Hiring from within is an important part of our culture,” says Denise Hamilton. “Having people who ‘get’ our culture is important, and promoting from within ensures this. Career progression is paramount.”

Almost all its team in its photo studio started as warehouse packers, with similar stories in its buying team, IT and customer service. About a third of mid-level and senior management came from lower level positions. It pays the well above the living wage as a Living Wage Foundation employer and works with new mothers to offer home working where possible, along with flexi-time, part-time and sabbaticals.

Ms Hamilton explains:

“We motivate our employees by giving them autonomy and trust. We believe in letting people do their jobs.”

As well as trust and flexible working, the company engages it staff in other ways.  The company aims to provide subsidised meals and childcare subsidies, runs English-as-a-second-language classes in-house at no cost to staff, and a weekly newsletter shares news, meanwhile very employee is invited to a weekly sales meeting.

As well as the award, Childrensalon regularly receives great employee reviews on Glassdoor.

One employee said:

“I have been employed by Childrensalon for 5 years.  During that time I became a strong, confident person and I don’t think I would be near where I am now without their help.  Childrensalon always makes their way to help their employees weather they have problems or just simply when they need flexibility.”


In congratulating Childrensalon, Andrew Masters said:

“This is the first year we have sponsored a KEiBA award and it has been an incredibly enjoyable and rewarding experience and we look forward to being involved again in 2018.”

Andrew was also keen to heap praise on his colleague, Associate Deborah Geering, for her significant role and hard work in supporting him throughout the judging process.

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