The last weeks have been marked by uncertainty, anxiety and isolation; but it has also marked out individuals and businesses. Fudge Kitchen MD, Sian Holt, and her team are one such exceptional example, whose support of their customers, community and particularly their staff has characteristically gone the extra mile.
“Our team are employed on the basis of being particularly fabulous,“ said Holt, “a more creative, talented, maverick bunch you’d be hard pushed to find. All 60+ of them are the lifeblood of Fudge Kitchen and we are very much a family, with some having worked with us for over 35years. Maintaining that sense of belonging, of unity while safeguarding their health, mental health and their jobs, as far as we are able, has been central to my planning during the coronavirus.”
This protective prioritising has translated into keeping communications regular, information transparent and silliness maximized, including: morale boosting, madcap weekly challenges for prizes, pitting the seven shops, production and management teams against each other, in crazy competitions that capitalise on the creativity, theatricality and famous game-on-ness of the Fudge Family. These have ranged from recreating famous works of art, home movie remakes of classic films and fudge-making themed, home made playdough sculptures. Look out for the results of their Caricature A Colleague Challenge on Instagram @fudgekitchen_uk, next week.
The team have had regular video sessions to check the mental and physical health, safety and well-being of staff. There are weekly newsletters from MD Sian Holt to all staff, furloughed or working, from Bath to Edinburgh, giving detailed updates on how the business is coping and sharing lockdown news from team members. Of course, it is a given that Fudge Kitchen has also taken every precaution to practically safeguard staff, in line with government guidelines and beyond.
The seven Fudge Kitchen shops were closed in advance of the government ruling, to protect staff; most of whom use public transport to get to work and all of whom work in small, historic shops, where social distancing is difficult. All staff who are not working on online orders have been furloughed, with employment retention a priority. Wherever possible they are being unfurloughed, which has included the Canterbury shop team and recently, the Bath shop team. Both shops have been given over to producing slab fudge for online sales, with staff wearing gloves and masks, strictly observing quarantine protocol, and working on separate floors, with separate access to kitchens.