Asda sets humble style by removing hierarchical status symbols at head office

Humility is the watchword for senior executives at supermarket chain Asda.

People director David Smith, who lives the Asda brand, proudly wearing a £49.99 George suit purchased with his 10% staff discount, told Personnel Today: “We have no trappings of status in our business. It keeps us humble.”

Examples of senior management humility include:

  • There are no fancy offices with mahogany desks at Asda House in Leeds, it’s all open plan.
  • Senior managers always travel second class and stay in budget hotels.
  • Directors have no allocated parking spaces (these are used as a reward for excellent service) – “we drive around looking for a space like everyone else”.

Smith added: “It has been a hard fight and has taken us 15 years to achieve. Senior execs have worked hard to get where they are, so it’s quite tough to take things away from them, unless it’s driven down from the top. The biggest noise was about the company cars, when we moved from BMWs and Audis to Fords.”

Asda maintains this ‘colleague equality’ with strong policies of:

  • Communication. “We make sure everything is ‘sense checked’ and use Daily Mirror-style tabloid language, headlines and pictures in our newsletters. Asda ‘team huddles’ have revolutionised the business – we use them to tell people everything. The more they know, the more they care.”
  • Recognition. “This has become an art form – never underestimate the power of recognition.”
  • Hiring for attitude rather than skills. “Asda has 24,500 employees over 50 and claims to be the biggest employer of older workers.”

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