John Lewis Partnership offers staff sports and social activities

The John Lewis Partnership has operated a number of sports and social clubs for many years; in fact, they date back to its founder, who wanted to give employees, or partners as they are known, an opportunity they would not otherwise have had.

And so a sailing club was set up to enable the average employee to sail a boat.

The sailing club still operates today and is the most popular club offered by the retailer. The partnership owns its own yachts and pays for their upkeep, an investment the organisation has made as part of its total reward proposition.

Rachael Abbott, reward manager for benefits, says: “This is just one part of our total reward proposition; the reason people want to work for the partnership, and when they join, tend to stay for a long time, is because of their total reward package.”

The John Lewis Partnership currently runs 23 clubs, including a music, clay pigeon, drama, surfing, running, golf, garden and the venture club, which runs activities such as cycling in the Pyrenees, white water rafting and open water swimming.

The clubs are run by employee volunteers, but are subsidised by the organisation, with employees contributing, depending on the costs involved. To set up a club, at least three employees must be involved: a chairman, a treasurer and a secretary.

Just over 5,000 John Lewis employees have joined an average of three clubs each. After the sailing club, the wine club is the next most popular group, followed by the venture club.

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Although the clubs are run by staff, the organisation sets out clear criteria and rules about how they should operate. For example, ahead of the motorcycle club visiting Spain for a two-day off-roading event, risk assessments are carried out to ensure employees have the appropriate insurance, and that the travel agents used are Abta-protected.

“Clubs and societies are one part of our total reward proposition, but they are an important part of that,” says Abbott. “This is about partners doing what they really enjoy and love.”