Yet another happy company: Pret A Manger

Samantha Wood interviews Pret A Manger’s Head of Communications, Jay Chapman, and she is more than happy to divulge some of their secrets of success.

I especially love the opening:

She tells me she’d love to have a scary sounding formula to impress people with, but in her mind it’s all pretty simple stuff:

“If you treat your employees well and involve them in the decisions that will affect them, they’re much more likely to be engaged in carrying out the effects of those decisions.”

There’s another gem when they talk recruitment:

“You can’t hire someone who can make sandwiches and teach them to be happy,” says Jay, “So we hire happy people and teach them to make sandwiches”.

If you don’t know Pret A Manger, they make coffee, sandwiches and other great food. It’s sort of like the British Starbucks – only better!

What I’ve always liked about them (apart from the outstanding quality of their products and the great service you get) is their passion. It’s obvious that this company cares deeply about what they do – and that’s huge to me.

Go read the whole thing – it’s excellent!

17 thoughts on “Yet another happy company: Pret A Manger”

  1. Thanks for the tip. I’m impressed especially how they say the customer service receives positive or neutral feedback 60% of the time. That is something VERY hard to achieve.

  2. It is really simple and so true. Happy people generally come happy and carry it within them.

  3. Thanks so much for highlighting the article Alex, it was certainly an interesting one to put together. Pret are inspiring! For those that are interested, this is the beginning of a series. Still to come are companies of all different shapes and sizes including Beaverbrooks the Jewellers, innocent drinks and method… people against dirty. And if there’s anyone you think is excellent at engagement that you’d like to see featured – let me know!

    Thanks again Alex, I’m a big fan of this site.

  4. It’s something employees should note also. The best way to get your boss’s attention (and promotions) is to be happy and enthusiastic about what you’re doing. Nobody likes a grouch, esp. employers.

  5. Hiring a happy person and teaching them to make sandwiches is DEFINITELY the right philosophy. In the eary 1970s I offered a programming job to a person who had never written a computer program. When he asked why I would hire him, I explained that I knew he was a hard working, dependable individual who always did his best. I could teach him how to program a lot easier than I could try to turn an experienced programmer into a hard working, dependable employee.

  6. Hire happy people…. I don’t know. In my experience happy people are more likely to be too gullible, so if you’ve got a company full of only happy people you’re less likely to spot problems before they happen…

    You need sceptics too in a company, people who think of all the things that can go wrong, and who warn you about them…. Often happy people won’t do that, because they think things are just all good, when in reality they’re maybe not.

    So, I don’t think your advice is sound, Kjerulf.

  7. Amazing that the notion to treat employees well and involve them in the decisions that affect their working life is revolutionary but with the rise of the corporation as a living, breathing entity beholden only to the shareholder this is not done almost anywhere. Another company you might want to take a look at is Trader Joe’s in the U.S. I love going in there and I’m sure the employees love working there. They always seem so happy.

  8. Trader Joe’s. Ok, thanks Maia, watch this space! If anyone has a contact at Trader Joe’s that wouldn’t mind me getting in touch with them – let me know!


  9. Pret’s about to open up a shop just in front of the metro station I take to work every day. I wonder how they’ll turn out…

  10. Hi,

    I commented before, but would like to emphasise again that the “happy” culture in Pret A Manger is fake.

    I am raising awareness regarding Pret A Manger and the horrible work environment. The public is not aware of how it really is behind the facade and are easily bought with free coffees.

    Pret’s food is not handmade, it is assembled in tiny/cramped kitchens from ready cooked products and ingredients delivered from factories that are as fresh as if we would go shopping from a grocery store with products and use by dates.

    I worked in Pret A Manger and survived being bullied during bereavement. I am raising awareness on how it is behind the scenes. I know how non-caring Pret is. Not labelling before and even after the first death is very shocking, but not surprising.

    Clive Schlee, Pret’s CEO labelled me late night girl patronizing me. My story is like out of a Hollywood film, but it’s true and I have a lot of written evidence.

    I am “shadow banned” on Twitter ( @LateNightGirlMe) which is a secret censorship Twitter denies doing to protect big companies and political views.

    Staff have 1 minute to serve customers or they lose bonus, get told off later n the office etc. Pret is very very different behind the scenes!

    My ordeal in Pret is on a mindmap as an overview:

    Other staff reviews / complaints:

    Undercover report sparked by my blog:

    Thank you for reading.

    Kind regards,

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